WR Chris R. Roberson

2002 Statistics

Coach: Jeff Woodruff
8-26, 3 years
2002 Record: 3-9
at Michigan State LOST 7-56
at Maryland LOST 3-45
at Ohio LOST 27-55
at Ball State LOST 17-42
at Western Michigan LOST 31-33
at Bowling Green LOST 21-63

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

The 2002 Eagles hit rock-bottom on defense. Considering the coaching changes and returning experience, it will be hard not to expect some improvement. Even minor tweaks would help. Offensively, the Eagles will need somebody to step up quickly at QB in order to avoid taking a step back from 2002's modest production. Too many question marks in terms of talent, considering the overall year-on-year improvement of the MAC, should prevent the Eagles from making much noise.

Expect the Eagles to get off to a good start against a patsy non-conference schedule. As a matter of fact, it would not surprise us if EMU rocketed to a very early 4-0 start. A reality check against Maryland will be followed by the start of a difficult conference stretch. By mid-season, look for coaches to go to a youth movement, starting with Deslauriers at quarterback. Coach Woodruff will need to (at least) show signs of a positive future for the Eagles' program to save his job. That mentality could lead to some late season disasters on the scoreboard, but foster future hopes for a once-respected program.

Projected 2003 record: 5-7
CB Michael Woods
QB - 1.5 DL - 2
RB - 2 LB - 2
WR - 2.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Jeff Crooks, 26-13-3, 165 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Ashantti Watson, 46 att., 123 yds., 0 TD

Receiving: C.R. Roberson, 40 rec., 379 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: C.R. Roberson, 8 TD, 48 pts.

Punting: David Rysko, 64 punts, 41.6 avg.

Kicking: none

Tackles: David Lusky, 144 tot., 56 solo

Sacks: Matt Kudu, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Jerry Gaines, 2 for 0 yds.

Kickoff returns: LaGarian Houston, 31 ret., 17.8 avg.

Punt returns: C.R. Roberson, 21 ret., 11.0 avg.


OFFENSE: Erik Ibom-WR, Ime Akpan-TB, Troy Edwards-QB, Michael Johnson-OG, Eric Klaban-K, Kevin Walter-WR
DEFENSE: Jari Brown-DE, Chris Whittington-LB, Erick Middleton-DB

written by Dave Bagchi

The Eagles were one of the stronger offensive teams in the 2002 Mid-American Conference, averaging 361 yards a game and scoring 24 points per contest. From that unit, the Eagles may have lost but three pertinent players, although they were team leaders and the most productive three players on game day: starting QB Troy Edwards, starting RB Ime Akpan and leading WR Kevin Walter. Coach Jeff Woodruff is looking for a leader or two, and it's first-come, first-serve.

The battle will begin at quarterback with a free-for-all competition between seniors Jeff Crooks and Chinedu Okoro, and redshirt-freshman Eric Deslauriers. Crooks, a JUCO transfer, has been with the Eagles for two injury-riddled seasons. His 29 passes in 2002 are the most among the returnees, and the early word is that he is fully healthy for 2003. Okoro has never played in an actual game during his three seasons but has had strong spring game performances the past two years. Both are classic drop-back passers with limited mobility. Considering EMU's spread formations and necessity for a mobile quarterback, the more athletic Deslauriers could steal the starting spot come September. There is no word on who will win the starting job, but coaches are leaning towards Crooks. Expect a short-leash on whoever takes the role.

Running back will be a clone-like quartet of players led by senior Ashantti Watson. As the team primarily runs a one-back offensive set, the Eagles employ four small-sized rotating backs. Watson, and sophomores Nelson Drew, Anthony Sherrell and Kaliym Hazel, are all under 5'9 and focus on shiftiness and quickness more than strength in their running style. Watson is the expected starter. But interestingly, when Akpan was sidelined with an injury against Ball State, the coaches turned to Sherrell. Considering the spring-ball struggles of this group, this competition won't be decided until well into fall.

Departed WR Kevin Walter will be difficult to replace. The Eagles deploy three- (and sometimes four-) receiver sets, therefore expect Robertson and Talley to be joined by junior college transfer Mark Mathieu. It is unclear at this point who else will step up to provide any depth. However, returning senior TE Kevin Zureki (28 catches) will certainly provide one more weapon. Coming off a terrible season-ending injury, Zureki sat out spring drills, but is expected to be ready by season's start. Sophomore Wes Kesner and Adam Jacobs also look to contribute, and will.

Most of EMU's returning depth will be in the trenches. The offensive line battled injuries throughout 2002, but in the process gained 2003's returning players valuable playing time. The unit is slightly under-sized, but their superior athletic ability will be crucial in the Eagles' wide-open passing attack. In total, three seniors and two juniors will get the start. Look for back-up 333-pounder Maurice Lewis to make a move at one of the guard spots. Lewis won the coach's team award for backup offensive player of the year in 2002.


TE Kevin Zureki


Returning Starters in bold
QB Jeff Crooks-Sr (6-0, 216) Chinedu Okoro-Jr (6-1, 206)
TB Ashantti Watson-Sr (5-9, 207) Nelson Drew-So (5-10, 202)
WR Alonzo Harris-Jr (6-1, 199) Marc Mathieu-Jr (5-11, 195)
WR Chris Talley-Jr (5-11, 180) Dan Fugate-Fr (6-1, 196)
WR Chris R. Roberson-Jr (5-11, 192) LaGarian Houston-So (5-6, 151)
TE Kevin Zureki-Sr (6-3, 263) Wes Kesner-So (6-4, 249)
OT Tom Kaleita-Jr (6-5, 306) R.J. Seehase-Fr (6-6, 299)
OG Michael Romeli-So (6-2, 299) Steven Godbold-Jr (6-2, 289)
C Lloyd Wilson-Sr (6-1, 291) Jeff Schrad-Fr (6-3, 288)
OG Gemayel Cowser-So (6-2, 276) Scott Golem-Jr (6-4, 288)
OT Dan Davis-Jr (6-4, 276) Mario Tucker-Jr (6-3, 298)
K Brian Klaban-So (5-8, 179) ..



written by Dave Bagchi

The 2002 Eagles had the nation's worst defense. They allowed an unmatched 47 points and 520 yards per game. Coach Woodruff has hired new defensive coordinator, Tim Rose, to revamp the unit. Despite returning all of last year's starters, expect wholesale changes and free-for-all competition from the Eagles on the defensive side of the ball in 2003. No job is safe and no position is ever final - players continually move around to fill vacancies caused by injury and/or poor play.

One expected constant should be senior LB David Lusky, who finished second in the conference(!) in tackles with 12 per game. Lusky gives the Eagles a solid defensive team leader around which to build. Juniors Kevin Harrison and Keyvon Barbee, who will flank Lusky in the middle, are by no means fixtures and will face stiff competition from a group of backups (lead by Steven Bednarik's 39 tackles, and also John Wester). Backup FS Rontrell Woodruff (51 tackles) is expected to compete - he moved into the LB rotation this spring. Rose will put the best players on the field and is considering changing from the 4-3 defensive formation currently deployed to the five DB 4-2-5, depending upon the fall play of Woodruff.

The defensive front returns all four starters, but obviously this is not necessarily good news (10 sacks while allowing over six yards per rush). On paper, the foursome will be Jason Robert and Brian Jenkins at tackle, joined outside by DEs Matt Lisek and Matt Kudu. Juniors Eric Pettway and Nick Suszan could replace the returnees. Spring practices did not lead to any clear changes but the coaches may consider a youth movement. Of the Eagles' 8 deep along the front, six are upperclassmen. Expect Rose to wipe the slate clean and even seek help from the new recruiting class - DTs Kyle Westman and Khalid Walton have been making noise.

If competition is the name of the game, then defensive back will be no different. In this battle-royale at cornerback between six players, junior Michael Woods and Steven Lewis have the early nod. The Eagles only intercepted four passes in route to an overall minus-22 TO-margin. Coaches are excited about sophomore DB Yves Dieudonne, who (at 6'0) would provide a stronger match against some of the taller receivers in the MAC. Dieudonne is also a playmaker. The safety spots will see returning starters Jamie Manor and the team's third-leading tackler from a year ago, junior Jerry Gaines. Backups Nate Brooks (moved from CB) and Corey Parker will compete. Expect Gaines' job to be secure, meaning Manor will be the first to get any hook for marginal play.


LB David Lusky


Returning Starters in bold
DE Matt Kudu-Jr (6-2, 277) Olivier Gagnon-Gordillo-So (6-2, 243)
DT Jason Robert-So (6-3, 296) Brian Jenkins-Sr (6-0, 279)
DE Matt Lisek-So (6-1, 256) Eric Pettway-Jr (6-1, 273)
LB Kevin Harrison-Jr (6-0, 248) Steven Bednarik-So (6-1, 228)
LB David Lusky-Sr (6-1, 245) Mark Zambrano-Fr (6-1, 209)
LB Keyvon Barbee-Jr (5-10, 226) Jon Wester-So (6-0, 237)
CAT Rontrell Woodruff-Jr (5-10, 196) Jereme Perry-Jr (6-0, 192)
CB Steven Lewis-So (5-8, 160) Yves Dieudonne-So (6-0, 162)
CB Michael Woods-Jr (5-9, 170) Geoff Pope-Fr (5-11, 175)
BAN Jamie Manor-Sr (5-11, 206) Nate Brooks-Jr (5-8, 178)
FS Jerry Gaines-Jr (6-1, 180) Corey Parker-Jr (6-0, 178)
P David Rysko-Sr (5-11, 193) Nicolas Marks-Fr (5-11, 215)




The punting abilities of David Rysko and the return skills of C.R. Roberson should be the strongest assets within the EMU special teams. Rysko earned second team All-MAC by averaging 41.6 yards per punt, while Roberson averaged 11 yards per punt-return and a solid 20.5 yards per KO return. With Roberson being expected to take on a more important role in the passing game, expect speedy LaGarian Houston to takeover his kick return duties.

The Eagles' special teams weaknesses are in the coverage teams and field-goal kicking department. In 2002, the team gave up a national worst 28.1 yards per kick return, causing EMU to consistently lose the field-position war. This ostensibly was part of the defense's problem. Place kicker Eric Klaban made only 3-of-9 FGAs, but now he is gone and is replaced by his brother Brian. During the spring, Brian Klaban showed a slightly stronger leg, but too struggled with his accuracy.