Rough Diamonds Camp Notebook

It was an all-day affair Sunday at Interlake High School, as over 270 of the region’s best football players took part in the last big skills camp of the summer - the Rough Diamonds Summer Showcase Camp. There were a number of compelling storylines, as over 20 colleges from every level were there to coach and check out the top talent on display.

Local Ties: Coaches from D1 schools like BYU, Northwestern, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Nevada were there to coach, all the way down to Carleton College in Minnesota. There were some definite Northwest ties on display, as Weber State Offensive Coordinator Brent Myers - a former Washington Offensive Line Coach - was there, as well as Wyoming Defensive Line Coach Pete Kaligis, who played collegiately as a Husky. Aaron Pflugrad, son of former Oregon Receivers Coach and Montana Head Coach Robin Pflugrad, was also there as Northern Arizona’s Receivers Coach.

Seeing The Next Generation: It always makes you feel a bit older when you see the siblings of prospects you scouted at long-ago camps come up, but Rough Diamonds is the perfect example of where the past, present, and future combine in interesting ways. Tyrus Tuiasosopo, a 6-foot-4 receiver from Issaquah, is the son of former Washington fullback Zach Tuiasosopo. Jeff Chandler, who also played for the Huskies, has another son ready to wreak havoc. A few years ago it was Calvin Chandler, now battling for a starting DB spot at Stanford, and now it’s his younger brother Chase, a 2018 WR/LB prospect who UW fans should definitely remember for the future.

Local recruitniks will remember Bothell’s Trent Sewell, son of former O’Dea track coach Colan Sewell. Trent’s younger brother Dylan, a 6-foot-2 receiver, was out there catching passes and reminding us of Trent, who played collegiately at Wyoming.

A kicker To Watch: The first session was the offensive linemen versus the defensive linemen - and those 1-1’s are always a treat to watch. And there's no doubt there was some rough diamonds in that bunch, including 2017 Edmonds-Woodway DE Ali Gaye, a 6-foot-5, 222-pound raw athlete that had his way with the offensive linemen at camp.

But the first player to really make a splash Sunday in a big way, from obscurity to instant attention, was a kicker. His name is Vernon Parker, and he’s a 6-foot, 200-pound 2016 prospect from Yelm, and he’s being coached up by former Washington placekicker Ryan Perkins. Parker, born in Germany, originally wanted to be a soccer star, but quickly changed his mind after moving to the states and learning abut the sport. His final kick of the day was from 50 yards in front of a bunch of 6-5 linemen, and he split the uprights with a boot that would have been good from 65. Washington is paying close attention to Parker, but after Sunday they’ll have a lot of attention from other schools that saw his monster leg in action.

QB’s of the now and future do their thing: Camps like Rough Diamonds showcase not just seniors-to-be looking for their ticket to college, but the youngers players that are just looking to get on radars early in the process. That was on display with the quarterbacks Sunday, as they ran the gamut from top, top seniors like Lake Stevens’s Jacob Eason - already verbally committed to Georgia - and Eastside Catholic’s Harley Kirsch, to a rising ninth-grader like Graham Kapowsin’s Dylan Morris. Morris stood 6-feet tall and 170 pounds, and rifled the ball right in there with Eason, Kirsch, Gig Harbor’s Davis Alexander, as well as a couple rising sophs Bothell’s Jacob Sirmon and Lakeside’s A.J. Allen. Obviously the real test for the quarterbacks is going to be when the pads are put on, and the ‘bullets start flying’, so to speak. But when it came to watching them compete in the camp-ending 1-1’s, it was enjoyable to see the old and young stars side-by-side, sharing info and slinging pigskin.

Finding that prospect that makes the big jump: Rough Diamonds rarely turns Pac-12 prospects into even bigger Pac-12 prospects. A guy like Bellevue’s Tyson Penn could be the exception, as the 6-foot-5 receiver showed out well before having to shut it down late with some foot issues. Penn currently has six offers, including offers from Oregon State and Washington State, but more could be coming. Wyoming offered after the camp, so could be a sign of things to come?

What Rough Diamonds is more about is turning Big Sky and Division 1-AA prospects/fringe Division-1 prospects into full-fledged top candidates. The biggest example Sunday was Kaelin Himphill, a linebacker prospect from Liberty High School in Hillsboro, a Portland suburb. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound Himphill plays both ways for Liberty, but he comes at the game with a real defensive mentality - and Portland State and Eastern Washington had already offered him. Leaving camp, all the D1 schools were all over him and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see him get those bigger D1 offers. Could he end up being a late Pac-12 steal for someone? We’ll see.

Coming Back To The Game: Rough Diamonds wasn’t just for those that have been playing the game all their lives, or just really started playing the game for the last few years, in the case of 2017 DE Ali Gaye from Edmonds-Woodway, a 6-foot-5 prospect with all the raw ability in the world. It’s also for those looking at one last shot at greatness. There were graduated seniors there, like Roosevelt’s Quinton Bradley Dixon, looking around to talk to coaches until the last one had left; there was Cleveland receiver Darnell Hogan, who some Big Sky schools were making a late push on - potentially as a scholarship guy, but most likely as a walk-on.

And then there are those that are coming back to the game - like Tacoma Wilson’s Montre Brown. Goaded into it by coaches at Wilson to pursue football again, as well as fueled by a desire to do it after ‘falling out of love’ with basketball, the 6-foot-1, 167-pound cornerback showed all the quickness and great feet you’d expect from a basketball player, but all the football instincts you’d also expect out of a shut-down corner. His size and athleticism have to be intriguing to schools of all levels, but is it too late in the process for Montre Brown to make his mark at the highest level? That is obviously yet to be see, but for all the names we know about - Rough Diamonds is also about finding that gem that has been hidden for a while but then suddenly comes back with a vengeance. Top Stories