Plum’s Moore-Watkins, Thomas sign on to continue football careers
Saturday, February 4, 2023 | 11:01 AM
Needing 151 yards to become Plum’s all-time leader in career rushing yards, senior tailback Eryck Moore-Watkins exploded in the 2022 season finale against Indiana.
In his final varsity game, he rushed 22 times for a career-best 356 yards and six touchdowns as the Mustangs scored a 46-27 victory.
Moore-Watkins finished with more than 3,000 yards for a Plum team which enjoyed two WPIAL playoff appearances during his tenure.
Now, he hopes to have that same impact as a runner with the Slippery Rock football team.
Moore-Watkins and senior teammate Kaden Thomas, who will attend Edinboro, celebrated their college football decisions last week on the first day of the National Letter of Intent regular signing period for Division I and II.
“Now, it’s college football, and everybody is one of the best players from their high school team,” Moore-Watkins said.
“I have to push myself more and work harder than I have before. I am just happy that I have closed the last chapter on a good note, and I am excited for what the next chapter can bring. I am ready to get it started.”
Slippery Rock has been somewhat of a pipeline in recent years for Plum graduates looking to continue their football and academic pursuits at the collegiate level.
More recently, Mustangs graduates Jake Tecak (offensive tackle) and Jake Chapla (place kicker) earned All-Region and All-American honors for their contributions to The Rock football program.
Chapla now is a Plum assistant coach.
“Jake (Chapla) loved it there, and I talked with him at our banquet,” Moore-Watkins said.
“He was really excited that I was going to commit there. He had talked about it with me ever since the recruiting process started. I just want to go up there and play my style of football and hopefully make a difference. It’s cool to know that Plum players have gone up there and had success by working hard. I am proud to be that next guy.”
Plum graduate Jake George is a member of the Slippery Rock football team as a junior long snapper.
Moore-Watkins finished his senior season with 1,493 yards on 183 carries as a workhorse in the Plum offense. He collected 19 rushing touchdowns.
He also caught 12 passes for 122 yards and two additional scores.
For his efforts, he was voted a first-team running back by the Big East Conference coaches.
“I couldn’t have accomplished anything without the help of all of my teammates,” Moore-Watkins said.
“It all starts with the offensive line, and Kaden probably led the way for at least half of my touchdowns.”
Moore-Watkins said he is excited that Thomas will get the chance to make his mark at Edinboro and is looking forward to the day they will face each other on the field.
“It’s going to be some really fun games and good competition with Edinboro,” he said.
Thomas continues a recent streak of Plum graduates getting the chance to make an impact at Edinboro.
Reed Martin, who owns the longest field goal in Plum football history, quickly established himself with the Fighting Scots. He recently was named the American Football Coaches Association First-Team All-American punter for all of Division II for the 2022 season.
He led the PSAC in punting at 42.8 yards an attempt. He had 20 of his 53 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
Logan Brooks completed his freshman season at Edinboro in 2022 after a standout career with the Mustangs. The wide receiver appeared in five games for the Fighting Scots.
“I talked with Reed and Logan a little bit, and they asked me where I was looking, what I wanted to do, and where I was with the whole (recruiting) process,” said Thomas, who was voted to the Big East first-team defense at outside linebacker and the second-team offensive at tight end/H-back.
“I had a visit scheduled for the 20th (of January), and the week before, they were talking with me and telling me how excited they were that I was coming up. I went up there and check out everything about the campus and the (football) program. It was everything they said it was going to be. It is a great total fit for me. I am excited.”
Thomas led the Plum defense in 2022 with 118 tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss. He recorded nine and a half sacks and picked off two passes.
He took his interception at Penn-Trafford back 57 yards for a touchdown.
Offensively, he caught 21 passes for 217 yards and four scores.
“I’ve been playing this game for 10-plus years, and my dream has always been to play college football,” Thomas said.
“Now, I am signing to go and play at a great school. It’s a little surreal to be honest. But I am just very excited to take that next step.”
Plum football coach Matt Morgan said the day was bittersweet for him as he celebrated two of his senior standouts.
“They have been a big part of this turnaround for the past few years at Plum with the two playoff runs and a pretty good final season with going 5-5 this year in 5A,” Morgan said.
“They will be missed, but I am looking forward to some younger guys stepping into their roles with how Eryck and Thomas showed them the way, so to speak. They both were great leaders and terrific individual players. I think both Slippery Rock and Edinboro got steals for their recruiting classes. Both will go on to be super successful.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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