The annual (Tacoma) News Tribune's "Northwest Nuggets" package, featuring the best high school football recruits in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and British Columbia, published in our Sunday section today.
First, the stories:
1, Yours truly went in-depth on how the Northwest schools in the Pacific-10 Conference are taking care of their own these days. Some interesting comments from coaches and recruits alike.
2, Doug Pacey, our prep coordinator, and myself combined to put together the interesting tidbits of the recruiting season, including a lead on two Oregon defensive ends making a name for themselves.
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3, Then there's a mammoth Gig Harbor junior who seems to be in demand by everyone, including a high-profile television station.
4, Finally there's the 2010 Northwest Nuggets bios here.
So, since I've been coordinating the Northwest Nuggets/Western 100 packages for the better part of the past decade, I get asked a lot – "What determines who makes the cut and who doesn't?"
For starters, each recruiting class of NW Nuggets, I think, has to be indicative of the kind of year it is in the region. In 2009-2010, there weren't many blue-chip products. The list of four first-teamers should reflect that, and does.
For weeks, Pacey and myself have been on the telephone lines, calling high school coaches, talking to the recruits themselves. Since I've worked for SuperPrep magazine in the past, I really trust Allen Wallace, and consult with him. Also, I have a Pacific-10 Conference recruiting coordinator source who arguably gives the most telling feedback on prospects.
Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com are nice tools for the fans, but don't come into play in determining our Northwest Nuggets.
Here are some notes on specific players:
Portland's Keanon Lowe is one recruit that was really on the cusp of being on the first team. Coaches are high on his combination of make-up speed as a defensive back and overall athleticism. But he's raw still, and I don't think he's even as good as Desmond Trufant was in 2008-09; Trufant was an honorable mention Northwest Nuggets selection for that period.
The closest recruit to really make the first team was Spokane's Aaron Dunn, a Washington State commitment. A great all-around package, and easily the Cougars' top in-state prospect. He'll be a Western 100 pick, for sure (as will Lowe).
I specifically asked the RC (recruiting coordinator) and a high school coach about the two heralded in-state offensive linemen – O'Dea's Ben Riva and Bothell's Colin Porter. Both said while Porter was getting more national attention, they would have taken the bigger, better-prepared-to-play-now Riva.
I asked if either were as good as current UW tackle Cody Habben coming out of high school at Skyline High. Both said, "No!" Why? They lack the overall nastiness Habben had as a senior (and whether Habben has turned out to be a good college player or not isn't part of this debate).
Oregon's Gabe King has the national exposure, an impressive list of scholarship offers, but the RC said he could be a character risk. Part of our criteria for the Northwest Nuggets are factors such as grades and overall off-the-field level-headedness.
The above paragraph applies to Auburn's Chris Young, who is a fantastic talent who still has a lot of ground to make up in the classroom. Therefore, we put him on the honorable mention list.
As you've seen, 2010-11 should be one HECK of a year in the Northwest. We anticipate the Northwest Nuggets class will be bigger.