Recruiting heats up for Merrill

Aside from the elite prospect, the "no-brainers" that warrant scholarship offers from across the country, there is another level of recruit. The one who has the ability to shine at the next level, but programs want to see more of him before they extend an offer. Gig Harbor (Wash.) S Jake Merrill is one such recruit and was able to catch up with him to find out how his season and recruiting are progressing.

"Ever since September 1st it has been really busy," Merrill said about his recruiting. "U-Dub has been out to visit already and watched my game against (South Kitsap). They're really getting up on things."

Washington defensive backs coach Steve Wilks is the main guy recruiting Merrill and he was the coach in the stands when Gig Harbor beat the Wolves 42-6.

"He likes to stay in touch with me," Merrill said. "Coach Wilks has done a good job. He wants to establish a relationship between me and him. By him coming to my game and coming to my school the day of the game, that got me really amped up to play that night."

The two other schools recruiting Merrill the hardest at this point are Oregon and Oregon State.

"Oregon calls every week and so does Oregon State. If they don't get a hold of me they'll leave a message and call later. One time coach (Neal) Zoumboukos from Oregon called me four times in one day.

"Oregon is doing a great job, they are recruiting me really hard."

Other schools in the recruiting mix for Merrill include Washington State, Colorado, Air Force, Boise State and Idaho. "Boise State is really in the picture now," Merrill said. "They've been calling a lot lately. At first, I thought they were going to lay off, but now they're really into it. They're excited about my play."

The Beavers are the only offer for Merrill at this time, but he expects that to change very soon. "I have some game film going out to some schools," the playmaker from the peninsula said. "That's what they wanted to see – my first couple games – so I expect that to change. I've played really well."

Merrill has helped lead Gig Harbor to a perfect 3-0 record and he's basically been a jack of all trades for the Tides. "Last year I had 69 tackles, but this year I'm already in the 30's," Merrill said proudly. "So far I have two blocked field goals and one pass breakup. It looks like teams are staying away from throwing the ball to my side. They are throwing it outside at our corners and they've played well. They're all playing well.

"Every once in a while we'll line up in a 5-3 (defensive scheme) and I'll play outside linebacker and I love it. I can move around pretty easily. I love blitzing. I have one sack already and I'm hoping to get some more."

Offensively, Merrill doesn't necessarily have a position as he's lined up at wing-back, running back, wide receiver and fullback and there is an off-chance he may see time under center.

"I ran some quarterback against Curtis (high school) in the spring – I can do it if they need me to," Merrill said with a chuckle. "I love watching Michael Vick. When I get out there I think a lot about him and I try to do the same things. I love it."

Merrill has talked with Boise State, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington about official visits and while he doesn't claim a leader, three are sticking out more than any others.

"Oregon, Washington and Oregon State," Merrill said. "Those three have been recruiting me the longest, but I don't have a favorite."

So if a school were to offer Jake in the next few weeks, would he commit?

"It really depends on who is offering me and whether or not to commit now or do I need to wait," Merrill said coyly.

Merrill and his teammates next face off against Olympic (Silverdale, Wash.) in a Narrows Bridge Division matchup this weekend.

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