Julian still has an inch to go to match Mkristo’s 6-foot-6 height, but make no mistake, there are now two bookends in the Bruce family.
“The best part about Julian is that he isn't fat, this guy is lean,” says Mkristo, who was a second-team AP All-American defensive end with the Cougars in 2006. “His frame can easily fit 40-50 pounds on him … The potential this kid has is ridiculous. I remember (my own) progress from high school to college and I believe he has the ability for way more.”
Julian posted 103 tackles as a junior in 2016, helping lead Liberty to a 12-1 record. Twenty-two of those tackles were for loss, including 7 sacks.
While the Tacoma News Tribune slots Julian as one of the four best defensive linemen in the state, Mkristo envisions his brother’s long-term future on the other side of the ball.
“I believe that he has the frame to play on Sunday's as an offensive tackle,” says Mkristo, who had stints with the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars. “I think that he likes playing defense because I did and he loves his big brother. But as a team guy, if you ask him, he will play wherever the team needs him. He’s a loyal, team guy with a heart of gold.”
Once basketball season concludes – Julian also hoops for Liberty -- Mkristo will be “eating” the weight room with his brother and working with him on agility and explosive movements. The aim is “to turn him loose for his senior season” in 2017.
The younger Bruce is awaiting his first college scholarship offer but the cards and letters are starting to arrive, mostly from smaller schools at this stage, says Mkristo, though the Huskies are now talking with Julian's prep coach, but “I believe this summer is when the flood gates will open because he hasn’t really been out to any camps.”
Julian (pictured above with sister Heaven, Mkristo and nephew Mkristo Jr. at WSU’s 2016 season opener) has been a Cougar fan since the day he and the family dropped off Mkristo in Pullman in 2002 (see photo below; Julian in orange shirt).
“Julian was just a little guy when I was in college and he loved to come see his big brother,” Mkristo says when asked if Pullman has been a frequent stop for Julian over the years. “He said he wanted to go to WSU like his big brother!”
BESIDES JULIAN BRUCE, three other familiar faces – verbal commits in WSU’s upcoming recruiting class -- also were named all-class All-State by the Tacoma News Tribune: Hazen DL Joe Tryon, River Ridge DL Kelle Sanders and Lincoln/Tacoma OL Quazzel White.
CLICK HERE to watch Hudl game tape of Bruce in action.
Mkristo Bruce starts his life in crimson, in front of Perham, 2002, with Julian (in orange) in tow: