'08 in-state recruiting crop now center stage

IN SOME CIRCLES, the state of Washington's class of 2008 high school football prospects is being christened the best in years. Of course, it's too early to say that with any degree of specificity, because there are two important stages the still-juniors need to complete before many determinations can be made. Nonetheless, this crop looks poised to make a big splash with college recruiters.

There are many factors that shape a recruiting class, not just potential or raw talent. Grades, attitude, injuries, work ethic, summer team camp performances -- all of it goes into the mix.

And just to avoid any confusion, let's be clear that this is not a top 15 list. This is a cursory look at a handful of Evergreen State seniors-to-be who distinguished themselves in 2006 and look to have the size and athleticism to compete at the next level. 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.

First things first. Only a little past midway of their junior years, the prospects will still need to improve up to and during their senior season -- a great junior year doesn't always progress, and equate, to a great or better senior season.

The "when will we know" question will be primarily answered in two parts, one following the summer camp and combine circuit, and the other after they've taken the field -- at least a few times -- during their senior seasons. The latter is more important, yielding a truer test. But by then, the former will have already slotted and established many of the players and how they are perceived up through Signing Day next February. And many scholarship offers from schools will be made before either the camps and combines -- or the games that count -- take place. Some schollies have already been extended by Washington State.

There are certainly a number of intriguing prospects who could, emphasize on the word 'could', make this a very good in-state class. What makes a great class in the state of Washington isn't the same as it is in California, Texas or Florida. Those states' great classes often have more to do with high numbers of elite prospects. With the state of Washington, what normally makes a great class is the depth of quality. There are nearly always a certain number of national prospects every year, but it's the "3-star" kind of guy -- who in plentiful numbers -- makes for a top-shelf class in the Northwest.

Among the Cougars' early offers, thought to be more than 5 and under 10 after listening to coaches Bill Doba and Greg Peterson at the recruiting dinner in Bellevue on Friday, are a three Evergreen Staters:

DT/OT Trevor Guyton a Redmond High teammate of new Cougar Logwone Mitz, captured most of his honors -- all-league, all-area and all-state honors as an offensive tackle his junior season but was also Honorable Mention at defensive tackle. While KingCo schools will no doubt design gamelans with Guyton as their focus, at 6-4 and 280 pounds they'll have their work cut out for them.

S/WR/CB Jermaine Kearse (Lakes) -- A first team all-league defensive back and kick returner, the 6-2, 190 pound Kearse according to his prep coach is fluid enough and has the skills to play either safety, receiver or corner at the next level. He's also a standout triple jumper.

DE Everette Thompson out of Burien's Kennedy High, the same school that produced Cougar signee Kevin Freitag and WSU Hall of Famer Mike Utley, has already packed on 240 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame. The Cougs offered back in January. Claimed first team all-league honors at both defensive end and tight end in 2006.

There are several other Evergreen State players who will make recruiting news between now and next February's Letter of Intent Day. Some of them include, in no particular order:

LB Alex Shaw (Lewis and Clark) -- Earned raves this season for his work on defense in the Greater Spokane League. Although listed as a 6-1, 210-pound linebacker on the L&C roster, Shaw captured first team All-GSL defensive line honors in 2006. The brother of Carl Shaw, a former walk on at Washington State.

OL Leroi Edwards (Kentridge) -- Performed well at WSU's summer camp last year and sports a 3.8 GPA. At 6-3.5 and 255 pounds, one goal is to get up closer to 280 pounds for his senior season after trimming down this winter for wrestling.

OT/DT Alameda Ta'amu (Rainier Beach) -- The Metro League Sound Division Lineman of the Year and Sound Division Defensive MVP, Ta'amu checks in at an overpowering 6-4 and 330 pounds and dominated on both sides of the ball his junior campaign. His future at the next level could be on either side of the ball but appears particularly gifted as an offensive lineman.

CB Justin Glenn (Kamiak) -- Named first team as a return man, second team as a defensive back in 2006, the 5-11, 185-pounder is a game breaker for Kamiak. Of his 11 TDs, four of them came via special teams or defense. His all-purpose yardage total was 1,268, with 535 of those hashes coming on returns.

DE Kavario Middleton (Lakes) -- Physically gifted, and now checking in at 6-6 and 245 pounds, Middleton has already seen significant national recruiting interest. Back in September, Lakes coach Dave Miller told Scout.com's Chris Fetters that Middleton's potential is huge. "The thing that (former Lakes star) Reggie (Williams) had was that desire, that fire burning in him to be the best. Kavario doesn't have that yet. But when he gets it, the sky is the limit."

OL Senio Kelemete (Evergreen) -- Also a league champion in wrestling who earned a trip to State this past weekend, the 6-4.5, 255-pounder helped plow the road to the tune of 7.1 yards a carry and 2,467 rushing yards for Evergreen last season on the gridiron.

WR Brandon Turner (Kentridge) -- An intriguing prospect who has all the physical tools. The 6-3, 188-pounder was named to the South King County's All-Area Team for Defensive Back, First Team SPSL North as a receiver, defensive back and kick/punt returner during his 2006 junior year. He's played on the varsity since his freshman year, when he started half the season at quarterback.

QB Luther Leonard (Evergreen) -- He was seventh in the area in passing for the 3A class, with 1,535 yards and 18 TDs his junior season. The 6-3, 180 pounder earned second team all-league honors in 2006.

OL David DeCastro (Bellevue) -- One of the anonymous offensive linemen who made Bellevue's offense click as Eric Block and Co. grabbed another state title this season. The 6-4, 280 pounder is also a track and field standout in the shot put.

LB/TE/QB/S/ Gerald Hill (Curtis) -- In this age of specialization, a "slash" type player who could get looks by schools at varied positions. He was the starting tight end and defensive end, plus the backup QB as a sophomore, earning all-league honors at the tight end spot.

RB Demetrius Bronson (Kentwood) -- A first team all-league running back in the SPSL North, Bronson tallied 1,437 ground yards his junior season.

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