Cheney, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Eastern Washington University announced on Tuesday linebacker Ronnie Hamlin was recently granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA to replace two other seasons wiped out by knee injuries.

Hamlin's five-year NCAA clock was set to expire after last season, when he was the team's leading tackler and EWU won the Big Sky Conference title before reaching the FCS national semifinals.

Hamlin, from Lacey, Wash., missed the 2009 season after he hurt his left knee on Sept. 2 - just three days before EWU began its campaign. He had surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament that fall, but then tore the ACL again during spring practice on April 24, 2010. He had another surgery and missed the 2010 season before returning to the playing field in the spring of 2011.

In three seasons, Hamlin ranks third in EWU history with 361 tackles, and the only players ahead of him are Greg Belzer (399 from 1997-00) and J.C. Sherritt (432 from 2007-10).

"It's great to have him back from a talent standpoint and a leadership standpoint as a team captain," coach Beau Baldwin said. "He brings so much to our program on and off the field - 365 days a year - and he does things right. It's neat to see a decision like this made for such a quality player and person like Ronnie."

Hamlin was a Buck Buchanan Award finalist last season, finishing 12th in the voting for the FCS' outstanding defensive player. He had 140 tackles.