Recruiting: Never too early to eye next round

THE DUST ON the 2009 football recruiting season won't settle for another month, but already is out with its initial list of top 100 high school prospects for the 2010 recruiting cycle. And one of the few players to earn a five-star rating is a quarterback whose mother recently told a local paper how impressed she is with the culture Paul Wulff is creating at Washington State.

Jake Heaps, the wunderkind from two-time state champion Skyline High in Sammamish, is rated one of the 10 best players in the land -- and the No. 1 quarterback -- on Scout's debut list of the nation's 100 most coveted prep players in the 2010 recruiting season.

Heaps, the 2008 AP state player of the year, is a perfect 28-0 in his two seasons as a starter and already holds 18 scholarship offers. The list of suitors includes virtually all of the Pac-10, plus such notables as Notre Dame, BYU and LSU. Uncommon maturity, coupled with mobility, sound mechanics, a good arm, outstanding touch and deft decision-making skills make him a hot commodity.

He says he's keeping his options open for college but hopes to narrow his list to 10 early this year and then make a final decision before summer so he can focus all energies on his senior campaign.

As a junior in the just-concluded season, Heaps threw for 2,910 yards, with 38 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Thirteen of those touchdowns and nearly 900 of those passing yards were to receiver Gino Simone, the No. 1-rated senior in the state this season. Simone has verbally committed to Washington State.

In an article about Simone that recently appeared in the Seattle P-I, Heaps characterized his teammate as a tireless worker, adding "I would take Gino over any kid in the country for a wide receiver."

Heaps' mom, Kelly, was quoted in the same article. She was asked about the allure WSU seems to have this recruiting season; the Cougars so far have secured verbal commitments from six of the state's top 11 players.

"I think they're developing a culture that is incredibly personable," she said, also noting that Jake gets hand-written notes each week from WSU coaches.

Heaps was one of only two Pacific Northwest players to make Scout's "early look" 2010 top 100 list. The other was defensive end Curtis White of Eugene (Sheldon Jackson High). The list was dominated by prospects from Texas, Florida and California. White, who has verballed to Oregon, is one of 18 players on the 2010 list who already have made a pledge.

Here's the complete list: Top Recruits 2010 – An Early Look

• National letter of intent signing day is Feb. 4.

• currently pegs WSU's 2009 class of commits as the 43rd best in the nation. The Cougs have 17 known verbals so far (not including three from the class of '08 Josh Luapo, Tim Hodgdon, Alex Reitnouer, who arrive this week in Pullman and start classes Monday.) Of the 16 prepsters in the group, 12 are rated among the top 60 nationally at their respective positions and three others are in the top 100 positionally. Simone has the most stars – four – and Darren Markle has the highest position rating (No. 22 at middle linebacker).

• USC's group of verbals is the highest-rated in the Pac-10 by, currently slotted at No. 6 nationally. Stanford is next, at No. 17, followed by UCLA at No. 23, Cal at No. 38 and WSU at No. 43. The Oregon and Arizona schools are each ranked in the 50s, and Washington is No. 77.

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