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Former Eagle Kaufman Signs With BC Lions

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Written by Eastern Washington University Athletics

The former Eagle duo has become a former Eagle trio.


Former Eastern Washington University All-America wide receiver Brandon Kaufman agreed to terms with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League on Tuesday (June 3) and will join the team immediately at its preseason training camp now underway.

Kaufman was released by the Buffalo Bills on May 16, 2014, after spending part of the 2013 on that team’s practice squad. He originally signed a free agent contract with Buffalo on April 29, 2013.

At B.C., Kaufman will join two other former Eagles on the Lions roster as the team concluded its third day of preseason training camp in Kamloops on Tuesday.

On May 22, T.J. Lee III signed a free agent contract with the Lions where he will be teammates with another former Eagle out of Seattle. Defensive halfback Ryan Phillips, who played for EWU in 2003 and 2004, is a 2000 Franklin High School graduate and has been a fixture in the secondary for the Lions ever since. Lee is a 2009 graduate of West Seattle High School.

A two-time NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-American, Kaufman finished his 42-game career with  221 catches (third in school history, seventh in Big Sky history) for 3,731 yards (second all-time at EWU, fourth in the Big Sky and 19th in FCS) and 33 touchdowns (second in school history). He earned the 2012 FCS Wide Receiver Award from College Football Performance Awards (CFPA).

Kaufman had a FCS-record 1,850 yards receiving in 2012, to go along with 93 receptions, 16 TDs and an average of 19.9 yards per catch. He helped lead the Eagles to the NCAA Division I title in 2010 and the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs in 2012. Kaufman is from Denver, Colo., and graduated in 2009 from Heritage High School.

After leaving Eastern a year early and signing with Buffalo, Kaufman caught six passes in the NFL preseason but was released on August 30, 2013. He was named to the practice squad on Dec. 10, 2013.

Kaufman and Lee helped Eastern win the national title at the conclusion of the 2010 season when they were underclassmen at EWU.

In winning three-straight first team All-Big Sky honors, Lee became only the third Eagle in school history – and the first on defense -- to accomplish that feat. In fact, only 45 total players in the 50-year history of the league have earned three first team accolades, as well as another three who have four-peated. Had he not left, Kaufman could have also earned three- first team All-Big Sky accolades.

Besides the Big Sky honor, he was selected this season as a first team All-America cornerback by the American Football Coaches Association, College Sporting News (“Fabulous 50”), College Sports Madness and Beyond Sports Network, and a second team choice by the Associated Press and The Sports Network. He finished the year with 114 tackles to rank 14th in school history and his 11 passes broken up were 10th.

Lee concluded his career by playing in the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 19, 2014. In fact, he by chance met Phillips’ uncle on that trip to Southern California.

Lee finished his Eastern career with 263 tackles, four interceptions, 25 passes broken up and 3 1/2 sacks in his 49-game career (35 starts). He is just the 35th Eagle in school history to have 200 career tackles and finished ranked 11th. He owns sole possession of the school record for most career forced fumbles with seven, and his 25 passes broken up ranks sixth.

Phillips was a first team All-Big Sky selection in 2004 for EWU and had 61 tackles, six interceptions and 10 passes broken up in his 18-game career. He quickly earned a starting position for B.C., which won the Grey Cup in 2006.

About to begin his 10th season as a Lion, Phillips was a CFL All-Star for the fourth time in 2013 (as well as in 2012, 2010 and 2007). He extended his active games-played streak to 162 last season, and has 146 starts, 37 interceptions and 388 tackles in his career. His interception total is fourth in franchise history and his tackles are second.

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