2004 in-state prospects: Defense

WHILE THERE ARE some great-looking offensive prep prospects in the state of Washington, things look even better on the defensive side of the ball for Division I-A recruiters as they look to build their 2004 classes. There are "can't miss" prospects at almost every spot on D, with one youngster from Kenmore looking a lot like a strapping kid, low on grid experience, plucked out of Anacortes by WSU four years ago. Also, note a couple of familiar last names from Kennewick.

The players with comments are the ones we expect to get the most recruiting attention from the Cougs and Dawgs, while the 'others to watch' lists are comprised of players we feel could draw more attention as the 2003 prep season unfolds.

There's no question one or more of those 'others to watch' might become Division I-A signees in 2004 -- as will currently unknown "sleeper" prospects who invariably emerge, often from the state's smaller communities.

With that, we say one thing: On to the players!

Jordan White-Frisbee 6-7, 265 Kenmore (Inglemoor)
While raw technically, you simply can't ignore the kid's athleticism. It just leaps out at you. Watch him play hoops, and you'll understand. He plays alongside prep sensation Marvin Williams during the summers, and if he can keep up with Marvin you know he's a special athlete who is just scratching the surface when it comes to his potential. His development mirrors another top in-state athlete who hadn't played a ton of high school football but went on to do some pretty nice things at the Division-1 level. His name? Rien Long. And there's nothing to say Jordan couldn't play offense either. It's that kind of versatility that makes him a coveted player.

Mike Mayer 6-4, 295 Snohomish
Mike has the proto-typical build for a great defensive tackle. Not too short, but not so tall that he loses leverage if he gets his pads up at all. He also has long arms and great size. He's also tough, crackin' heads like a champ in a very rough and tumble league (WesCo 4A North). Earning all-area honors as a junior is a nice feat for a prepster, but as a defensive lineman is not easy.

Mitch Reffett 6-1, 255 Moses Lake
The younger brother of Husky defensive tackle Jordan Reffett, Mitch already has achieved something his brother never did. This past season, as a junior, he was voted defensive player of the year in the Big-9. He doesn't have the height you would like to see in a DE prospect, he could certainly get taller. Jordan is 6-5, so it's in the genes. In short, the Reffett's are clearly cut from the same cloth.

Nate Johnson 6-4, 240 Lakewood (Lakes)
Has a rangy frame and great athleticism, so could play either DE or tight end in college. Big legs and a thick lower torso make him a speciman. Has a real nose for the ball and plays in a very solid program, so he's getting some solid coaching. Guys with Nate's frame and feel for the game aren't easy to find, so if he continues to develop as expected he'll be a top in-state prospect this fall.

Other DL prospects to watch:
Antonio Lindsey 6-2, 275 Federal Way
Michael Nahl 6-3, 315 West Seattle
Tyler Carter 6-3, 230 Walla Walla
Craig Mettler 6-4, 240 Walla Walla
Tony O'Dell 6-2, 265 Everett (Mariner)
Geoff Robinson 6-1, 265 Seattle (O'Dea)

Trenton Tuiasosopo 6-2, 220 Everett (Mariner)
The cousin of Matt Tuiasosopo, Trenton went down to last year's Oregon NIKE camp and really impressed running with the ball. But his future is on defense. He's also a wrestler, and his tenaciousness is easy to see when you watch him play. Combine that with the family bloodlines and you have a player lined up for success at the next level. Another side benefit of Trenton wrestling is that he's developed great feet and balance and his hand-fighting technique allows him to shed blockers easier than most. He's tough, strong and has all the intangibles to be an elite-level player.

Patrick McKillop 6-3, 230 Tacoma (Bellarmine Prep)
Here's a player after the heart of late 1980s WSU linebacker Mark Ledbetter. That's right, this is a kid with a knack for inducing snotbubbles from those who get in his way. McKillop is perhaps the most nationally elite linebacking prospect from the state since since Spokane's Ty Gregorak, who went to play at Colorado. He's already close to 240, so if he continues to grow he may end up even playing with his hand down in college. The big question will be if he can keep his 4.67 speed over the duration at his playing weight. All indications are that he can, and if he can he will be a sure-fire D1 prospect. He's coached by former UW linebacker Mike Baldassin.

Other linebackers to watch:
Mike Welch 6-1, 200 Pasco
Jason Belford 6-2, 220 Tacoma (Lincoln)
Junior Lei 6-2, 235 Puyallup (Rogers)
Nick Genatone 6-0, 195 Kennewick (Kamiakin)
Tyson Kafentzis 6-1, 215 Richland

Keauntea Bankhead 6-0, 200 Seattle (Ballard)
Arguably the top in-state prospect this year, along with OL Bobby Dockter and the two Tuiasosopos, Trenton and Matt. Bankhead is a 'do it all'-type athlete, who we have listed as a safety but is deadly as a receiver too. There's no question he's the best pure athlete in the state and is just dynamic when he steps on the field. Comparisons to Lamont Thompson aren't far-fetched --- he has that kind of ability and presence on the field. He'll have his choice of where to go to in college.

Bryan Baird 6-3, 215 Vancouver (Columbia River)
Baird strikes us as a cross between current standout Cougar safety Erik Coleman and early 90s Cougar star John Rushing. Only Bryan is a bit taller. Like Coleman and Rushing, this kid brings the lumber. Baird's a big-time hitter who could grow and end up being an outside linebacker in college. Played against Bellevue in the title game, and even though CR came out on the losing end he came out looking like a true D1 prospect who can play in space and has a real nose for the ball. Word on the street is that he and WSU are smitten with each other.

John Coombs 6-1, 175 Bellevue
While Bryan Baird is more the type of safety who plays closer to the line of scrimmage, Coombs is your typical ballhawking centerfielder, snagging ten picks for the state champs last year. Playing defense under former WSU and NFL great James Hasty, you have to be a baller and John is just that. The only thing he needs to do is hit the weight room and work on getting bigger and stronger. If he can do that over the off-season, his presence, vision and playmaking ability in the deep-third can't be ignored. His D1 potential is directly in relation to how much bigger he can get while maintaining his speed.

Other safeties to watch:
Steve Davis 5-11, 180 Kennewick (Kamiakin)
Andre Geraghty 6-2, 190 Seattle (O'Dea)
Anthony Rosso 6-0, 175 Walla Walla

Darin Haris 5-11, 190 Federal Way (Decatur)
He plays quarterback and cornerback for Decatur head coach Rik Haines, and he's the kind of player, like a Justin Phinissee that a coach like Mike Bellotti loves to bring into his program because of his playmaking abilities and leadership skills. Harris won't be a QB at the high D1 level, but he's clearly the best athlete on a team that is usually loaded with solid football players. He's got great overall quickness and moves really well when changing direction. One thing Harris should do in order to boost his D1 stock is to hit the college camps this summer to show people that he's got the athleticism that can translate into success at a position other than quarterback.

Other corners to watch:
Anthony Stewart 5-7, 170 Seattle (Rainier Beach)
Justin Terry 5-10, 180 Puyallup
Tristan Eastburn 6-1, 180 Seattle (Roosevelt)
Luke Anderson 5-10, 170 Yakima (Eisenhower)


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