Merrill high on Greene; others coming on strong

JAKE MERRILL, A safety-linebacker from Gig Harbor, Wash., is testament to the power of moving pictures. After game film of the 6-2 1/2, 200-pounder went in the mail the love started to flow, with the northern tier of the Pac-10 and a Midwest powerhouse leading the way. There's a lot to like about him. For starters, he's fearless and likes to tackle with his face.

Merrill was already drawing significant early recruiting interest but since schools have gotten a chance to look at his film, it's ramped up considerably. Perhaps surprising is that he does not have an offer yet given the amount of contact he's received -- phone conversations and face to face visits -- but coaches from Washington State to Michigan are making their interest well known to him and his prep coach.

Gig Harbor coach Darren McKay expects more of the same, now that schools are wrapping up spring ball and have had a chance to see Merrill's recently mailed film. Over the last month, Merrill has met or talked with a number of schools, including WSU coaches Bill Doba and Ken Greene.

"I really like coach Doba," said Merrill. "He's a nice guy, down to earth and he's upbeat. He's just a great guy."

Merrill said distance will not be much of a factor in his decision, with the coaching staff and education being far more important.

"I want a position coach that's going to be down to earth and is close to his players," he said. "Like coach (Ken) Greene -- He's loose, he's interacting with his players, he's having fun. He's the kind of coach I'd like to play for."

"I'm also looking at the educational program, because I'd like to go into sports medicine."

Another consideration will be how much the surrounding community is into the football program -- Does the town shut down on Saturdays? Is football the thing?

Merrill also had a number of great things to say about the coaches at Michigan, Oregon, Washington and Florida to name a few. He was scheduled to travel to Oregon State this weekend, with the Beavs having got in contact after viewing his film.

"They just got my video so now they're just starting to come on hard," said Merrill.

ALL SCHOOLS are even at this point and Merrill remains wide open. He didn't get a lot of publicity last year and could be one of those guys that after he gets on the field at a school's camp, offers could be forthcoming in a hurry as coaches get that valuable first hand look. And there's also a school or two out there that might not want to wait until camp before offering a full ride. Because one thing is certain, this is a defender who likes to 'smack someone in the mouth'.

Merrill had 69 tackles with 15 pass breakups and 2 INTs last season.

His busy schedule calls for the full camps at Washington State and Washington, the Coaches Association camp at Seahawk Stadium and then to Oregon for their half-day camp. He also plans on the full camp at Michigan, having received an invite from the Wolverines.

Merrill said the Cougs and the Huskies are recruiting him as an athlete, with the idea he could play either safety or linebacker. Others have mostly talked to him about being a safety. He does not have a preference.

"Oregon has clearly stated they want me at safety (as has Michigan) because they like big safeties," he said. "I'm open to anything. I mean, I just want to play ball. I love football. I love to hit. So as long as I'm on the defensive side of the ball, I don't care," he finished with a laugh.

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