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TOP > What’s New > IBM’s Craft, 7 Seagulls chosen for All X-League team

What’s New

IBM’s Craft, 7 Seagulls chosen for All X-League team


Kevin Craft broke down a barrier, then broke a slew of records.  For his spectacular efforts, the IBM Big Blue quarterback was named to the All X-League Class of 2012, which includes seven members from the champion Obic Seagulls.


Obic defensive end Kevin Jackson and linebacker Naoki Kosho were both named for the eighth time, while flashy wide receiver Noriaki Kinoshita was a first-time selection to the team announced Monday night at the Japan X Bowl.


The Kajima Deers, who lost to Obic 27-24 in the championship game, had the most selections with eight, while the West Division champion Panasonic Impulse had three.  IBM, the Asahi Soft Drink Challengers and the Fujitsu Frontiers had two apiece, and the As One Black Eagles, who placed a player on the elite squad for the first time since 2004, and Nojima Sagamihara Rise had one each.


Craft and Kinoshita were among nine first-timers in the voting, in which a combination of five coaches or players from each of the 18 top-tier teams make selections, limited to players outside of their own division. The results are forwarded to a league committee that composes the final list.


Craft was under the spotlight from his first snap, not only because he had been a starter at world-renowned UCLA, but because he was one of the first American quarterbacks in the history of the league, along with the Elecom Kobe Finies’ Lyle Moevao.


Craft more than lived up his billing, setting league records by passing for 1,628 yards and 20 touchdowns in divisional play to lead IBM back into the upper-tier second stage after a one-year absence.


“The numbers that he put up in the X-League were more than expected,” IBM head coach Shinzo Yamada said. “To have a player like him in Japan is a really good thing. Unfortunately we were not able to win [the title], so everything was not perfectly good. But he had a big influence on Japanese football.”


Running backs Yasuhiro Maruta of Kajima and Tataeru Nakanishi joined Craft in the All League backfield. Maruta, who also made the team in 2009, rushed for a league-high 450 yards and nine touchdowns in helping Kajima win the East Division. Nakanishi didn’t pile up a lot of yardage, but made his mark with a toughness in key situations that belied his 1.61-meter frame.


Kinoshita, the former NFL Europe starter and practice squad player for the Atlanta Falcons, made the cut in his second season with Obic. Including nine receptions in the Japan X Bowl, he had 30 catches for 572 yards and six touchdowns.


Kajima’s Naoki Maeda was selected as a wide receiver for the first time, having been the choice for returner in 2010.  Panasonic’s Musashi Yoshida was a first-time recipient as the tight end/slot back.


On the offensive line, the Deers’ Kazuhiro Kuramochi made the team for the seventh straight year, and was joined by teammate and first-time pick Daisuke Kojima. Also named were Asahi Soft Drinks’ Takehito Noda and rookie Haruhito Kurokawa, along with Panasonic’s Tsunenao Sano. Noda and Sano were picked for the second time.


On defense, Kosho and Jackson moved within one of the record of nine held by former Asahi Soft Drinks offensive tackle Haruhisa Hiramoto.


“It’s been a rough year for me,” said Jackson, whose season was curtailed by injuries at times. “I haven’t actually been able to play how I want to. I guess I did enough.”


Obic’s vaunted defense was also represented by defensive lineman Mitsunori Kihira and defensive backs Takeshi Miyake and 39-year-old Yuichi Watanabe, who all became three-time selections. Watanabe’s award was his first in four years.


Kajima had three defensive players selected—all for the second time-defensive linemen Keita Komiya and Shohei Suzuki and defensive back Koki Kato.


IBM linebacker Yusuke Kishimoto was chosen for the first time, a source of pride for his coach Yamada, an All League linebacker himself in his playing days at Asahi Soft Drinks.


“It feels very good,” Yamada said. “This is the first time since I became head coach to have an All X-League defensive player. I’m really happy for him. I know he has the talent and skill to be All X-League and on the All Japan team.”


As One defensive back Toshihiro Yamada, who led the West with three interceptions, became the third Black Eagle to be selected since the league started naming the team in 2000 and the first since 2004. He is their first defensive player.


The other linebacker was Fujitsu’s Shoichiro Suzuki, who was named for the second year in a row and third time overall.


Fujitsu kicker Hidetetsu Nishimura and Kajima punter Daisuke Aoki were repeat selections, while Panasonic’s Ryohei Imanishi earned the nod as the returner for the first time after making it as a safety in 2011.


—Ken Marantz for the X-League


All X-League Class of 2012


OL Tsunenao Sano, Panasonic (2)
OL Kazuhiro Kuramochi, Kajima (7)
OL Takehito Noda, Asahi Soft Drinks (1)
OL Daisuke Kojima, Kajima (1)
OL Haruhisa Kurokawa, Asahi Soft Drinks (1)
TE/SB Musashi Yoshida, Panasonic (1)
WR Naoki Maeda, Kajima (2)*
WR : Noriaki Kinoshita, Obic (1)
RB Yasuhiro Maruta, Kajima (2)
 RB   Tataeru Nakanishi, Obic (1)
 QB    Kevin Craft, IBM (1)



























































DL Keita Komiya, Kajima (2)
DL Mitsunori Kihira, Obic (3)
DL Shohei Suzuki, Kajima (2)
DL Kevin Jackson, Obic (8)
LB Naoki Kosho, Obic (8)*
LB Shoichiro Suzuki, Fujitsu (3)
LB Yusuke Kishimoto, IBM (1)
DB Takeshi Miyake, Obic (2)
DB Toshihiro Yamada, As One (1)
DB Koki Kato, Kajima (2)
DB Yuichi Watanabe, Obic (3)



K Hidetetsu Nishimura, Fujitsu (2)
P Daisuke Aoki, Kajima (3)*
RET Ryohei Imanishi, Panasonic (2)*


Number in parentheses indicates times selected.  

*-Kosho named in 2009 as defensive back; Aoki named in 2010 as kicker; Maeda named in 2010 as returner; Imanishi named in 2011 as strong safety.

Divisional Awards

MVP Yasuhiro Maruta, RB, Kajima
Rookie of the Year Kohei Arai, OL, Kajima


MVP Noriaki Kinoshita, WR, Obic
Rookie of the Year Kevin Craft, QB, IBM