Alaska linebacker eyes the Northwest

JAKE HEUN and some of his teammates recently came down from Palmer, Alaska, a small town in the south central part of the state, to take part in Washington State's youth football camp. Palmer High coach Rod Christiansen says Heun hasn't received an offer from the Cougs, but he's a throwback linebacker and carries with him loads of potential.

The CF.C message boards had been buzzing this past week about a linebacker from Alaska who took home an MVP award, and a WSU scholarship offer after the summer camp had come to a close It turns out the MVP award was correct, but reports of a WSU offer to Jake Heun were a bit premature.

"Not to our knowledge," said Christiansen when asked if Heun had been offered by WSU. "If they did, he doesn't know about it."

At a little over 6-foot and 240-pounds, Heun's certainly got the hitting part of the game down. Christiansen said he's still learning the finer points of the game and the linebacker position, but carries with him loads of potential.

"He's got a lot of linebacker in him," said Christiansen. "He just really loves to fly around on defense."

Christiansen said Heun has about a 240 pound clean, squats 400 and benched 26 reps with 185 on the bar.

"He really enjoys the weightlifting, lifts quite often and has for years. He's a 100 percent go guy all the time. I have to hold him back...and if he's just playing a little pick game of basketball, like I said he's going 100 percent. 'Now Jake, don't hurt anybody,'" said Christiansen said with a laugh.

In addition to WSU, Western Washington is interested in Heun, with the Palmer prospects having just gone through Western's football camp. Heun and teammates also checked out the UW on Friday.

"He really likes the Northwest," said Christiansen. "He is looking at this area."

SOME OF THE OTHER PROSPECTS from Palmer include:

Devin Conroy (6-1, 180) was named an MVP for the defensive backs at Washington State's camp. He also lines up at running back for Palmer, and was named all-conference as a RB, but was in effect a wide receiver on offense for Palmer. He was in the state's Top Ten for number of catches as a junior, regularly making highlight reel catches, with around 400 yards rushing as the pitch man on Palmer's option.

Conroy brought back seven kickoff returns beyond the 50-yard line last season and he's also a pretty good kicker and soccer player -- he's handled the kicking duties for the Palmer football team his freshman year. Western is looking at him as a wide receiver, but Christiansen thinks defensive back might be his calling at the next level.

Tory Johnson (OL/DL, 6-2, 270), caught the eye of Western at their camp, as did Steel Tubbs (6-0, 195), another intriguing prospect at running back/linebacker. All conference at outside linebacker this past season, Tubbs likely projects at safety at the next level. He was Palmer's top rusher last year.

We'll have more later with Heun and some of the other Palmer High prospects.


Palmer's a four-year high school with the smallest attendance -- 900 students, the minimum for the largest classification in Alaska -- of any school they compete against. The city of Anchorage, for example, has a number of schools with an enrollment of 2,000-plus. Coach Christiansen enters his 14th season at Palmer this season, winning it all in 1995 and falling just short in the '96 title game. This season, they have a talented group returning, and could be poised to make some noise. Christiansen has been a teacher and coach at Palmer for 17 years.

"I just have a really solid staff that's coached with me for a while," he said. "We were a little down last year, we only had three wins, but I think we've done that once before in my 14 years. We do a good job of competing for our size...Its a numbers thing for us, we always seem to have really good starting units but they get tired, playing defense, offense and special teams because we ask a lot of guys to play a number of spots. But they wouldn't have it any other way.

Former Palmer star and Alaska lineman of the year Junior Aumavea could be poised for a breakout year at Western this coming season.

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