The News Tribune published its 22nd annual edition of the Northwest Nuggets on Sunday. Here’s what we had:
Main bar: Colleges are offering athletes at younger and younger ages. This story is about freshmen and sophomores that haven’t even played significant varsity time getting scholarships.
Sidebar: Skyline junior Jake Heaps is the top underclassmen recruit in the Northwest, maybe even the country. That story and link will also give you a list of the top junior Nuggets-in-waiting.
Here are the 2009 Northwest Nuggets and honorable mention list:
DT Deandre Coleman
Committed to: California
The only football player from Washington selected to play in the prestigious Army All-American Bowl in 2008, Coleman clearly belongs in this elite group of Northwest football players.
According to Rivals.com, Coleman is the 11th-best defensive tackle in the country. Surely, his long arms, quick feet and powerful build, not to mention his ragdoll-like treatment of opposing linemen, factored into his inclusion among the top 100 high school seniors in the country. Coaches from California, Colorado, LSU, Oregon, Washington, Texas A&M and others offered scholarships.
In August, Coleman told former Washington coach Tyrone Willingham that he planned to be a Husky. But four months later, he changed his mind and gave a verbal commitment to Cal coach Jeff Tedford, saying that he wanted to be part of Cal’s "family atmosphere."
WR Gino Simone
Committed to: Washington St.
The News Tribune’s 2008 all-classification Washington Player of the Year can do it all.
Run crisp routes and make amazing grabs for first-downs and touchdowns? Check.
Zig-zag through the defenses for long gains on punt and kick returns? Check.
Deliver crushing blows from his safety position? Check.
While Simone likely won’t be asked to play defense at Washington State, coach Paul Wulff will surely welcome the Skyline senior’s game-changing abilities.
Simone, the state’s top-rated recruit, according to Scout.com, has helped Skyline win back-to-back state championships. During his senior season, he caught 54 passes for 862 yards and 13 touchdowns and returned four kicks for touchdowns.
While Simone will have to prove himself at the collegiate level, he already has the support of one of the nation’s highest-profile prep quarterbacks.
"I would take Gino over any kid in the country for a wide receiver," said Skyline quarterback Jake Heaps, who has played with Simone since grade school. "He has all the intangibles it takes to be a great football player."
Simone chose WSU over Boise St., Oregon State and Washington.
WR Kirby Moore
Committed to: Boise St.
When it comes to catching touchdown passes, no high school receiver – past or present – in the United States can compete with Kirby Moore. The Prosser product set national records for touchdowns receptions in a career (95) and single-season (34) in 2008. His 304 catches for 4,854 yards in four seasons both rank fourth nationally. Moore also owns the state’s all-purpose touchdowns mark with 99.
"He’s a big, strong kid, and there isn’t anybody who’s worked harder at it in the (23) years I’ve been here," Tom Moore said. "You don’t sprinkle magic dust around and become what he has."
OK, so pops has glowing praise for his son. What about folks outside the Moore family?
"He is just a big guy you don’t have an answer for," said Ephrata coach Jay Mills, who watched Moore catch 18 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns against his team this season.
Moore has given a verbal commitment to play at Boise St., where he’ll reunite with older brother and Broncos quarterback Kellen.
OT Charles Siddoway
Eugene, Ore./Sheldon HS
Committed to: California
Charles Siddoway surely knows the significance of Sept. 26, 2009. That’s when Cal, the college he has given a verbal commitment to attend, will visit Oregon, the hometown university that pulled its scholarship offer to the state’s top recruit without notice.
For the Northwest’s top-rated lineman, who took official visits to Cal, Oregon and UCLA, and cancelled a trip to Alabama, the scholarship switcheroo might have been a boon. It freed him to select an out-of-town school without catching any grief.
"I thought (Oregon) would give me more notice," Siddoway told the Eugene Register-Guard, "but I’m fine with it. I’m able to go to the school I wanted to go to."
The Beaver State’s top recruit, Siddoway possesses brute strength that few opponents can match and is a tremendous run-blocker.
QB Taysom Hill
Pocatello, Idaho/Highland HS
Committed to: Stanford
Hearing some recruiting experts froth over a high school athlete is increasingly losing its value. Have these guys ever come across a recruit who doesn’t have "the potential to be a star"?
Perhaps the most meaningful comments come from those who know best – coaches. Especially opposing coaches.
If that’s the case, Highland High’s Taysom Hill of Pocatello, Idaho, has a bright future as a college quarterback.
Centennial coach Lee Neumann told the Idaho Statesman that Hill is the state’s "best offensive player" since former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer. After he dispatched coach Van Troxel’s Lake City squad from the state playoffs, Troxel called Hill a "one-man wrecking crew" and "a legit D-I player."
Hill passed for 2,269 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,491 yards and 24 touchdowns on the way to winning Idaho’s 5A state championship.
Hill, who is Mormon, said he chose Stanford over Arizona, BYU and Utah, but the Cardinal must wait two years for him, while he serves a church mission. An older brother, Jordan, signed with BYU out of high school but ended up playing at Arizona State.
TE Billy Sanders
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho/Lake City
Committed to: ULCA
When Lake City High School coach Van Troxel looks back on Billy Sanders’ only season at the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, school, he comes to a realization.
"We probably underutilized him," Troxel said. "He’s got great hands. If we had him for another year, he would have been a bigger part of our offense."
Sanders transferred to Lake City from Brophey Prep in Phoenix, Arizona, less than two months before the 2008 season began, and Lake City’s spread option veer offense doesn’t lend much opportunity for receivers.
"He probably caught about 28 passes," Troxel said, "and about half of them came when he was split out by himself with four receivers on the other side of the field."
Troxel said Sanders is a reliable run-blocker and adept at sealing off the edge.
Sanders committed to Miami during his junior year, but announced earlier this month that he would attend UCLA. Nevertheless, a Washington coach visited Lake City last week to try and sway Sanders.
Jamal Atofau DB 5-10 190 Bellevue WSU
Andre Barrington DB/LB 6-1 205 Federal Way WSU
Hunter Blackmore C 6-2 260 Kentwood Army
Grant Enger OL 6-6 250 O’Dea Oregon St.
Taylor Hart DE 6-6 245 Tualatin (Ore.) Oregon
Kyrell Hudson DB 6-2 190 Vancouver Evergreen Oregon St.
Malcolm Johnson RB 6-1 185 Gresham (Ore.) Barlow Boise St.
Casey Locker DB 5-11 175 Ferndale WSU
Boseko Lokombo LB 6-3 215 W.J. Mouat Sec. (B.C.) Oregon
Travis Long TE/DE 6-4 245 Gonzaga Prep WSU
Darren Markle LB 6-1 232 Meridian Idaho WSU
Chris Mastin DE 6-2 205 Lewis and Clark WSU
Geoff Meinken DE 6-4 260 Lynnwood Stanford
Allen Mooney LB 5-11 220 O’Dea Boise St.
Andru Pulu LB 6-3 250 Federal Way Washington
Desmond Trufant DB 5-11 170 Wilson Washington
Nolan Washington DB 5-11 165 Kennedy WSU