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All-American EWU center Spencer Blackburn granted sixth year of eligibility

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 14, 2019, 9:33 p.m.

Spencer Blackburn, in black, anchors the Eagles’ offensive line. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Spencer Blackburn, in black, anchors the Eagles’ offensive line. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

All-American center Spencer Blackburn will return to the trenches for Eastern Washington in 2019.

The NCAA approved Blackburn’s hardship request for a sixth year of eligibility, stemming from a thumb injury that sidelined him his entire redshirt freshman season in 2015.

Blackburn, a three-time All-Big Sky Conference selection, helped pave the way for an offense that averaged 528 yards per game in 2018 and set a single-season Eagles rushing record (3,838 yards).

“It means a ton to be able to come back and be a part of another year with such a special program,” said Blackburn, a team captain last season. “This team has the experience and structure to further advance the standard we set this last season all the way to January.”

All-Big Sky guard Kaleb Levao and wide receiver Zach Eagle have also submitted hardship applications for a sixth year of eligibility.

They’re both waiting to hear back from the NCAA, according to EWU.

Levao played in two games in 2017 before going down with a season-ending knee injury.

Eagle started the first five games in 2018 before falling to a season-ending knee injury Sept. 29 at Montana State, the same game in which quarterback Gage Gubrud suffered a season-ending toe injury.

Gubrud, granted a sixth year of eligibility, is enrolled at Washington State as a graduate transfer.

If Levao is granted a sixth year, EWU’s offensive line would return four All-Big Sky selections, including tackles Chris Schlichting and Tristen Taylor. The Eagles also return a load of experienced skill players, including dual-threat quarterback Eric Barriere, who helped lead the Eagles to the FCS national title game.

Reeder to North Texas

Former Eastern Washington offensive coordinator Bodie Reeder is officially headed to Texas.

Conference USA member North Texas made the hire official Thursday, two days after Reeder’s possible departure to the FBS school near Dallas was reported.

Reeder, 32, spent two seasons in Cheney, calling plays for the third-ranked offense (528 yards per game) in the FCS.

Reeder will also coach quarterbacks at UNT, which is coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons.

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