Impact Report - Jake Eldrenkamp

The legacy of the number 52 jersey at Bellevue goes back to current Wolverines DL Coach Jeff Dicks, who gave up a scholarship to Washington State scholarship so he could attend Cornell. Then Steve Schilling took over and turned it into something big-time, eventually signing with Michigan.

David DeCastro built upon what Dicks and Schilling had done before him, signing with Stanford and becoming a collegiate All-American, and then Hank Thayer had Division-1 offers waiting for him, but three surgeries for a shattered forearm eventually took him out of the game.

And then there's Jake Eldrenkamp. Eldrenkamp has worn No. 52 for two years, but he didn't get to put it on without a tussle. When he beat Marcus Henry out to earn the right to wear No. 52 the summer before his junior year, that's when the Bellevue staff knew he had what it took to be something special. Not only did Eldrenkamp beat out the current Boise State lineman during the three rep battle royale; he also handled the post-rep afters that can come during a dose of some serious competition.

When it comes to having that 'nasty', that intrinsic thing that separates the very good linemen from the great ones, Eldrenkamp has developed in that way a little slower than the DeCastros and the Schillings, but after beating Henry he was able to join that conversation. And that's what has helped him get to the point where he could accept a scholarship from the University of Washington.

So Eldrenkamp is not there yet, but he has the potential to get there. He's similar to DeCastro, Schilling and Henry in terms of his raw athleticism and footwork, but it's that extra bit of filth in the trenches that needs to be developed. And it can be developed. It was developed with all those other Bellevue guys, all of whom contemplated leaving football at BHS early on before re-dedicating themselves to the team and finding that extra gear.

Because Eldrenkamp - at his core - is a Gentle Giant. He's a true intellectual, on and off the field. He's a kid that studies everything very carefully and analyzes every situation. In games, that means he is really another coach out there on the field. His football IQ is through the roof, and it shows in how he plays, and also in how he's improved from year to year. But off the field Jake is extremely grateful, humble and nice. In that sense, he fits one of the prototypes of a classic lineman; he loves the game because of his role on the team. He's more than happy to let the skill guys grab the glory. He takes pride in doing his job well and wants to be the guy that helps the other guy get in the end zone. That's where he gets his satisfaction.

In fact, it was a little out of character when Jake agreed to announce his college intentions on KJR Tuesday with Dave 'Softy' Mahler. As soon as the news went viral, Eldrenkamp was bombarded with calls, texts, tweets, notes and other missives wondering what he was going to do. Instead of just trying to deal with it as best he could, Jake did what those around him would expect him to do - he just shut it down. He got out of his comfort zone a little bit, something that will happen more and more as he grows up and experiences more success on the football field, and he quickly took care of that, moving things back to a level he could comfortably deal with.

It also explained why he decided to announce his commitment on his Facebook page. It was vintage Jake; to the point, no fuss, and there it is. It's done. There was no hat dance, no TV special, no spotlight gobble. That would have been very un-Jake like.

Staying close to home is a great fit for Jake Eldrenkamp. He gets the benefit of being close to his family and support group, the group that will give him everything he needs in terms of love, encouragement, friendly faces, and the like. In turn, he will be able to mature at his pace and also be able to share his successes with those he cares about most.

In reading his thoughts post-commit, it's clear he's always wanted to be a Husky - and that never hurts. But right now the Washington Huskies need Jake Eldrenkamp as much as he needs them. First, UW needs to keep stockpiling quality linemen, and Eldrenkamp fits the definition of a quality lineman. He's not going to be seen in the mold of a Joshua Garnett or Zach Banner, but that's OK. Part of that has to do with a high-ankle sprain he suffered against Mercer Island in week five.

Up to that point, the Bellevue coaches expected Eldrenkamp's stock to skyrocket; the injury turned what should have been a recruiting Roman Candle into a Piccolo Pete. It was a struggle for Jake to get back, but by the playoffs he was cleared to play. Against Lakes, Eldrenkamp showed some strong flashes of great play, being able to move around 300-pounders like Banner and Zaheer Webb. He's got the leverage and footwork to do it. And on top of it, Eldrenkamp is a tweener in the best sense of the word. He's a hybrid. He can get bigger and play guard or center, or he can be an athletic tackle. He's smart enough and he's got the size to play anywhere along the line.

Eldrenkamp's commitment to UW means he'll reunite with BHS teammate Michael Kneip, who recently accepted an offer from the Huskies as a preferred walk-on. The two linemen are very close and have a competitive friendship. They are two of the strongest players at Bellevue, and they'd push each other during summer workouts. And even though they came to their decisions to attend Washington independently, there seemed to be an unspoken hope that both would be able to reunite and play together again.

Lastly, it's a great fit for the Huskies because they desperately needed to re-establish a pipeline to Bellevue that had been completely obliterated during the Tyrone Willingham years. The Wolverines always seem to have talent, and the Huskies need all the help they can get when it comes to fixing the holes in the recruiting fence they've attempted to build around the state of Washington. But Bellevue Head Coach Butch Goncharoff and UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian appear to have a great working relationship, and the signings of Eldrenkamp and Kneip should bode well for Washington in the future when it comes to recruiting current Wolverine players like Sean Constantine, Myles Jack, and Budda Baker.


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