The National Junior College Athletic Association announced its 2016 All-American football teams with three Kats being recognized for their accomplishments in leading Erie to an 7-3 record and helping head coach Scott Pilkey to Erie's first back-to-back winning seasons in about a decade. While the Kats recorded a program-best six road wins, the team recorded another program best with three student-athletes named as all-Americans in a single season.
Tarik Johnson was one of just five freshman named to the First Team offense. The 6-foot-3, 295-lb. offensive lineman from Liberty High School helped the Kat attack score 20-plus points in eight of its 10 games through either solid pass protection or by opening holes for the running game.
Named to the Second Team defense was Christian Cheatom. The 6-foot-3, 170-lb. sophomore recorded six interceptions with two going for touchdowns. Cheatom's six picks represented one-quarter of the team's 24 - that were third-best in the nation. The defensive back's two scores were half of the team's four total defensive touchdowns - that ranked 14th nationally. In addition, the Lackawanna High School product's 111 interception return yards were almost one-third of Erie's 352 total interception return yards, which were ninth-best in the nation. Cheatom also registered 30 tackles (17 solo) to go with five break-ups.
Recognized as an Honorable mention selection on defense was lineman John Pope. The 6-foot-2, 230-lb. sophomore had 62 tackles (41 solo) to go with 20.5 tackles-for-losses for 91 yards. The Livonia High School graduate recorded a dozen sacks for 68 yards, forced four fumbles, recovered one, had five break-ups and blocked one kick.
Erie's two selections on defense were the most of any team, with the exception of No. 1-ranked Garden City (KS) and third-ranked Arizona Western, who both had three (rankings reflect the most recent poll, Dec. 5).