Yakaboski destined to be a Dawg

It's a small world. A small, small world. And when that world is the world of football recruting for the University of Washington, it goes from small to tiny. Case in point; Brandon Yakoboski. And while coaches want to control as much as they can, sometimes fate lends a helping hand. Who knew that the Huskies would benefit from a chance encounter between two high-schoolers in Galveston, Tex.?

Go back to the summer of 2005, a time when high school football players are trying to get their last bits of summer fun in before going back to the grind of the fall. Unbeknownst to each other, people from Mount Si and Ferndale just happen to be sharing the same boat that would take them on an eight-day cruise of the Caribbean.

"They were one side of the line and we were on the other side," Mario Yakaboski, the father of Brandon Yakaboski, recounts. "And you know how football kids size each other up. So Brandon was on one side, and Jake Locker was on the other. The whole cruise, the Ferndale kids ended up hanging out with the Mount Si kids and Brandon got to know Jake. They stayed in contact and Brandon actually went up to some games last year."

In fact, Brandon even dated Jake's sister for a time and the parents got to know each other too. "We talked about how neat it would be for both of them to go to U-Dub, but the staff was brand-new and didn't really know about Brandon," Mario said.

"Now they are going to be teammates. I think something neat is going to start happening."

Yakaboski verbally committed to Washington Thursday night after a conversation Brandon had with Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham. "I believe in what Coach Willingham is doing and I'm ready to run downhill for the Dawgs," Brandon said.

"I'm really excited. I'm going to try very hard to be part of that great Washington running back tradition - Corey Dillon, Greg Lewis, Napoleon Kaufman. I know that Washington needs a big back to really hit the hole and move those chains."

Yakaboski is hoping to eventually get to around 220 pounds by the time he enrolls next fall at Washington. It's just another expectation the Washington coaches have put on Brandon, and he's come through with flying colors so far.

"U-Dub showed him a lot of love and their coaches showed a high level of integrity," the elder Yakaboski said. "They did what they said they were going to do. They were honest with Brandon with what they wanted out of him. Everybody kept their word and it was very nice and clean. There were no hurdles. It was refreshing with everything you see and hear about what's going on out there. But Coach Willingham set lofty expectations for Brandon. Brandon met those - he got a 1550 on his SAT. That's what they were looking for. Once that happened, it all unfolded."

And that was the key...a qualifying test score. And when they got the word, the Husky coaches did not hesitate when it came to offering Brandon a full-ride scholarship - one he gobbled up within seconds. "It was crazy," Mario recalled. "We made sure all the coaches knew about it. We gave them the scores. We didn't know how quickly it would happen, but Brandon was really encouraged by the fact that U-Dub got this done within 10 hours of the phone call. They didn't sit there for a few days thinking about it. And the way we read it, since they did everything that quickly, they always wanted him."

And what's not to want about Yakaboski? More than likely he's going to be a two-time KingCo 3A Offensive MVP. He rand for 1,556 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, and is on pace to break both those marks as a senior. So far Brandon has run for 1477 yards in eight games, with 16 rushing touchdowns, 3 passing touchdowns and 2 receiving touchdowns. The Wildcats are currently 8-1 and the No. 2 seed in KingCo 3A, behind Bellevue. They play Kelso this Saturday at Mount Si.

"The timing was great," Mario said. "Coach (Charlie Kinnune) said he had a great practice after he got his SAT score. And when you know that multiple offers are riding on that score, it's a lot of pressure. But that gorilla is off his back and I think he might do something special on Saturday night."

As quickly as Yakaboski verbally committed to Willingham Thursday night, it wasn't necessarily a slam dunk. California and Oregon State both were waiting for his SAT score and offers appeared to be contingent. "We we looking to maybe do a deal with Cal where Madison (Yakaboski's sister) would go down there and commit too," Mario said. "(Yakaboski's mother) Brenda has family in the Bay Area. Between Cal, Oregon State and U-Dub, we had some decisions to make."

And as much recruiting attention as Brandon has received, his younger sister is getting even more acclaim for her basketball exploits. Right now it sounds like Cal, Stanford and Tennessee are hot on her trail. The Yakaboskis are helping to put Mount Si on the map, but Mario wants people to understand that it's very much a reciprocal relationship. Because the Yakaboskis now live in Duvall, it's nearly a 45-minute daily commute, so over the past couple of years it has not been an uncommon occurance for Brandon to crash on the floor of a teammate at Mount Si if he couldn't make it home at a reasonable hour.

"This is a real shot in the arm for the Mt. Si. community," Mario said. "They were a big part of Brandon's success."

But Brandon won't be the only Wildcat at Washington. Walk-on frosh receiver Kyle Meuli made this year's team.

"I want to come in to play right away," he said. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to play four more years of football. I'm going to rededicate myself in the gym to make sure I'm ready to play." Considering Yakaboski already cleans 350 pounds and verticals between 38 and 41 inches, that could be a scary proposition.

But he's already seen how close one of his friends came to playing as a freshman, so he knows it's within his reach.

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