NFL roster opportunities arise for former EWU football players

By Sam Deal, Sports Writer

Three former Eagles received invites to participate in this past weekend’s NFL rookie mini-camps and the opportunity to make an NFL roster this coming season.

Andru Pulu, Anthony Larry and Demitirius Bronson are the latest in a growing line of NFL prospects produced at Big Sky powerhouse Eastern Washington University.

“It’s great, every year we produce every sort of NFL athlete. It shows that we can hang, it proves that we can produce the same type of athlete that the D-1 programs get,” said Bronson, who was picked up immediately after the draft by the Seattle Seahawks to attend their rookie mini-camp. “It helps our program grow. It draws more student-athletes to the school.”

The Eagles have been Big Sky or Co-Big Sky champions three out of the last four seasons, including a national championship during the 2010 season. In that time, the system has continued to produce NFL-caliber players.

This recent success on the field, combined with players’ post-collegiate accomplishments, has pushed the football team to new heights.

Running back coach Kiel McDonald explained what past success means to the future.

“Those guys moving forward are huge for the program. You get a chance to see what kind of athletes we’re getting and the trajectory of where we are headed with all the help it does recruiting,” said McDonald.

Recruiting is a key role in having success at the college level. EWU has come up with a formula for the type of person they want to bring in. McDonald believes these are the same type of players whose skills translate to the next level.

“Recruiting the right young man, the blue-collar type. Those guys are going to do what it takes to go on and play afterwards.”

Recruiting the right guys has led to the success of this program, but the attitudes that the coaches and players maintain is the reason behind the sustained success.

“As far as the team, I felt we were all a band of brothers,” said Bronson. “It was just a great atmosphere. I think that’s what kept program winning while I was there and what will keep it winning in the future.”

Pulu, who was also signed as a priority free agent by Seattle, alluded to similar feelings and how EWU’s winning program has prepared him for playing in the NFL.

“I know that [Seattle] has that competitive edge and that’s exactly what we had at Eastern. I feel like we go into almost the same program moving forward,” said Pulu.

Pulu was second team All Big Sky Conference last year after being joined by his younger brother Jordan Pulu, who also plays defensive tackle. He explained the importance of his current situation to future Eagles, including his brother.

“It just opens doorways for everybody else. Everybody who plays college football wants to play at the next level. It makes more opportunities for them, for the school and the program,” said Anrdu Pulu.

The Eagles have developed one of the most successful programs the school’s athletic department has ever seen. With the success of players like Andru Pulu, Bronson and Larry,the system will only continue to grow and succeed.

“It shows every young man: You can come to Eastern and have a shot,” said McDonald. “Everybody’s story is different, you get a chance to come to Eastern, write your own [story] and play afterwards.”