And just to avoid any confusion, let's be clear that this is not a top 10 list. This is a cursory look at a handful of seniors-to-be who distinguished themselves in 2005 and appear to have the size and athleticism to compete at the next level. So rest assured, as the nuggets from the less-beaten paths of Forks, Omak and Okanogan come to light, we'll get the spotlight pointed in their direction. Same goes for kids who make the quantum leap in performance and/or physical growth during their senior seasons.
OK, with all the caveats out of the way, here's the early bird list:
QB Jermain Delgardo (6-5, 215) Rainier Beach, Seattle
Strong-armed, athletic and great frame. Second-team All-Metro League Sound Division as a junior in 2005. Led Rainier Beach to state semifinals for only the second time in school history. The Vikings lost that game to Prosser but Delgardo's efforts (410 passing yards, three TDs) earned him Seattle Times Player of the Week honors. He finished the year with 19 TD passes. Also a talented basketball player.
DT B.J. Guerra (6-4, 280) Moses Lake
Turned heads as a two-way (DL and TE) sophomore in 2004, earning honorable mention All-Big Nine honors for his work on defense. Followed up with a stellar 2005 campaign in which he was a first-team all-conference DL choice. Quick off the snap and very agile. Also a standout basketball player.
CB/WR Toney Henderson (5-11, 180) Gig Harbor
An uber-athlete, he was an all-league pick at receiver and defensive back in 2005, and second-team all-league at WR as a sophomore. State champion in the long jump and a superb basketball player. Has speed to burn (in 4.4 range) and plays a position coveted by college recruiters: cornerback.
DL/OL Emeka Iweka (6-6, 290) Rainier Beach, Seattle
Huge body with great athleticism. First-team All-Metro League Sound Division at both defensive end and offensive tackle in 2005. Has been a starter on Rainier Beach's varsity basketball team since his freshman year and actually committed verbally as a sophomore to play basketball at Oregon State. That commitment was 50 pounds ago, so he now is likely thinking football at the next level as well.
TE Chris Izbicki (6-4, 240) Lake Washington, Kirkland
Caught 23 passes in 2005 en route to first-team All-KingCo 4A honors. Also plays linebacker. Outstanding size and agility figures to make him one of the state's sure-fire D-I prospects in the 2007 class.
ATH Kellen Kiilsgaard (6-2, 210) Auburn
Multi-dimensional, earning South Puget Sound League-North offensive and defensive back of the year honors in 2005. Also named All-Area at DB by the Times. A dual-threat QB who produced 1,487 yards of total offense in 2005. At safety, he has twice been named first-team all-league. Made 60 tackles and intercepted four passes in 2005. Good wheels and squats nearly 400 pounds. Has a 4.0 GPA. Also a standout lefty baseball pitcher. Dad Kjel was an all-state tackle at Spokane's Ferris High and starred at the University of Idaho.
CB/WR Vonzell McDowell (5-9, 170) Rainier Beach, Seattle
Named first-team Associated Press Class 3A All-State at defensive back and first-team All-Metro League Sound division at both receiver and defensive back. Picked by the Seattle Times as the Metro League Sound Division's 2005 defensive MVP. Also a standout in track (where he kas year ran the 100 in 11.52) and basketball.
QB Jason Munns (6-5 1.2, 235) Southridge, Kennewick
With size, athleticism, a great arm and a winning tradition, Munns figures to be one of the West's most hotly pursued prospects. Completed 62 percent of his passes in 2005, throwing for 2,178 yards and 32 TDs en route to 2005 Big Nine Co-Player of the Year honors. QB efficiency rating of 170. As a sophomore he fired for 2,297 yards and 31 TDs, and was named first-team All-Big Nine. In two seasons as a starter, Southridge has compiled a 20-4 record. Also a standout in the classroom (3.8 GPA) and an all-league performer in basketball.
DE/TE Hank Vincent (6-2, 225) Pasco
A pass-rushing force, he was the Big 9's Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2005. Named All-Area by the Tri-City Herald and first-team all-classifications All-State by the Seattle Times. Also earned second-team all-league plaudits for his work at tight end. A first-team all-league DL as a sophomore in 2004. Has a motor that never stops.
An all-purpose force, collecting more than 1,400 total yards (940 rushing, 380 in returns and 122 in receptions) in 2005 and 1,600 in 2004. He scored 38 TDs in last two seasons. First-team All-Seamount League King Division at both running back and defensive back. On track to become Kennedy's all-time greatest back --- no small potatoes considering that Paul Arnold was a Parade All-American coming out of Kennedy in '99.
NOTABLE NAMES BEHIND CENTER:
With two redshirting freshmen (Arkelon Hall and Cole Morgan) in the pipeline, WSU chose not to take a signal caller in its 2006 recruiting class so will make quarterback a 2007 priority. In addition to Munns, Delgardo and Kiilsgaard, there's a handful of other QB seniors-to-be from the Evergreen State who may have Division I-A potential. Among them: Evan Mozzochi (Vancouver, Columbia River), Kellen Moore (Prosser), Jake Gelakoska (Jackson/Mill Creek), Stefan Walker (Port Angeles), Eric Block (Bellevue) and J.T. Levenseller (Pullman).
Levenseller, a second-team All-State pick for the Class 2A state champion Greyhounds, comes by his talent naturally. His dad, Mike, the offensive coordinator at WSU, was a record-setting receiver for the Cougars in the 1970s. Moreover, the youngster's initials -- J.T. -- are no accident. They're in honor of his dad's close friend --- a guy named Jack Thompson who happened to set a plethora of NCAA passing records during his career at WSU.
Scout.com's database of prep players from the state of Washington who will be on the 2007 recruiting radar is up and running. It's at more than 20 players currently and will be growing steadily as we head toward the May visitation period. You can find the list of Evergreen staters here: 2007 prospects from Washington state.