The national letter of intent signing day drama at Lincoln High School wasn’t exactly made for TV.
Jusstis Warren showed up committed to the University of Washington, and there was no reason to believe he had made a last-minute switch — not with his mother wearing a T-shirt that read, “Keep calm, my son is going to UW.”
His two sisters had them, too: “Keep calm, my brother is going to UW.” Even his 3-year-old nephew: “Keep calm, my uncle is going to UW.”
Warren, who played six games his sophomore year, missed his junior year with a knee injury and said he didn’t have an NCAA Division I offer at the start of the season, was among six players on the Abes football team to sign with colleges Wednesday.
Lincoln principal Pat Erwin said he believes this is the most student-athletes signing to play football in one year in the school’s history.
Fellow linebacker BJ Hawthorne, wearing a Washington State sweatshirt, signed with the Cougars. Defensive back Dehonta Hayes, offensive lineman Ben PuaPuaga and wide receiver Jayson Williams signed with Eastern Washington. Running back Marcus Johnson will head to Central Washington in Ellensburg.
Former Lincoln coach Jon Kitna, who accepted a head coach position at Waxahachie High School near Dallas two weeks ago, stood along the right side of the auditorium watching his former players sit at a table set up on the stage. But they wouldn’t let Kitna stay in the shadows.
Before the players signed, Warren surprised Kitna by presenting him with the REAL Man Award, an acronym Kitna and his staff created that stands for Rejects passivity, Empathizes with others, Accepts responsibility and Leads courageously. Kitna accepted it and gave a brief speech.
“You guys are carrying the torch,” Kitna said. “A torch of a lot of kids who are going to come to Lincoln and you’ll never meet, but they are going to have an opportunity because of what you guys do from this point forward.”
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland was on hand, as well.
“Six kids who all got recruited to play college football somewhere, and I think most of these kids have GPA’s above 3.0,” Strickland said. “It sets a high bar and raises the standards of what we can expect from student athletes.”
While proud to see six of the Abes 15 seniors sign to play college football, Kitna said there should have been more.
“They are still underrecruited,” Kitna said after the ceremony. “Eastern knows they got a steal. Central knows they are getting a steal.
“But the best thing is these schools they are going to, they are getting great young men who are going to help shape their schools’ cultures.”
As the photo-taking died down and the players had hugged most of their friends and family, Hawthorne found Warren for some parting words.
“I’ll see you in the Apple Cup,” Hawthorne said.
MCCLATCHER: NO PLACE LIKE HOME
The undramatic day continued at Federal Way. Chico McClatcher, The News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year who was committed to the Huskies before signing day, walked into the school lunchroom already wearing a UW T-shirt for everyone to see. His mom had a small purple “W” on her right cheek.
“Both my aunties and my mom went there. Really, it was just nothing is better than staying home,” said McClatcher, who set Federal Way records for career all-purpose yards and total touchdowns. “I made my decision about three months ago. I just already had it in my mind that this was the spot for me to spend my next four years.”
He said he isn’t sure exactly what his role will be with the Huskies, but he’s looking forward to getting touches in a variety of ways.
“I’m just going to try to bring a lot of speed, especially on offense and special teams,” said McClatcher. “I just want to join a good brotherhood, be comfortable where I’m at and hopefully grind to get some national championships.”
McClatcher sat to the far right on a table as David Tiumalu signed with the South Dakota School of Mines, Jared Pulu signed with Air Force, and Charlie Taumoepeau with Portland State.
TOBECK WRITES HIMSELF INTO HISTORY
No player in Cascade Christian High School history did what Mason Tobeck did Wednesday.
The News Tribune All-Area tight end and standout linebacker signed with Utah State. Tobeck is the first from his school to sign to play a team sport for an NCAA Division I school, said Cougars coach Randy Davis.
And he’ll go to a school that also produced Seattle Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin.
“I’m just excited — I’ve been in Washington my whole life, I’m just excited to go out and experience new things,” Tobeck said. “I’m excited to go out and meet new people and make new friends.”
He had a proud father in former Washington State and Seahawks lineman Robbie Tobeck.
“I mostly just congratulated him on reaching a goal,” Robbie Tobeck said. “Today’s the culmination of his dreams and hopes and the hard work he’s put in. I just told him, ‘Now it’s time to set another goal.’ Knowing Mason like I do, I know he’s already set himself a new goal.”
PENINSULA QUARTET SIGNS
Robert Kvinsland won a lot of games in four years at Peninsula. And helped the Seahawks win three consecutive 3A South Puget Sound League titles, including the past two as their starting quarterback.
Idaho State liked that. And they hope he can lead the Bengals to similar things.
“They love pocket quarterbacks,” said Kvinsland, a second-team News Tribune All-Area selection. “It’s an incredible opportunity for me.”
In addition, Peninsula running back Major Ali signed with Carroll College (Montana), and offensive lineman Hayden Smith went with Montana Tech.
The Seahawks’ Lauren Mercuri signed to play soccer at Central Arkansas, and Josie Self with Eastern Washington.
NW NUGGETS TO PAC-12
A pair of News Tribune Northwest Nuggets selections stuck with the Pac-12 Conference schools they had committed to.
Lakes standout defensive lineman Benning Potoa’e, with UW and Lakes mini-helmets sitting in front of him on a table, signed with the Huskies in the morning and celebrated with friends and family after school.
“(He’s) one of the best we have ever had,” Lakes coach Dave Miller said. “Underrated in my opinion.”
Meanwhile, more than 70 people at Steilacoom High School watched as star linebacker Fotu T. Leiato II put on an Oregon hat.
Leiato, whose Hudl video is a bit of an internet sensation, became the first football player in Steilacoom’s history to sign to play for a Pac-12 school — that after having no Division I offers at the start of the school year.
|Archbishop Murphy||Mason Bradley||Fresno State|
|Arlington||Cameron Scrimgeour||University of Jamestown-North Dakota|
|Auburn Riverside||Marcus Atafua||CWU|
|Bellarmine Prep||Matt Philichi||Air Force|
|Bellevue||Ross Connors||Air Force|
|Bishop Blanchet||Jack Sendelbach||EWU|
|Bonney Lake||Riley Miller||Colorado School of Mines|
|Bonney Lake||Baily Sulfridge||Montana Tech|
|Cascade Christian||Mason Tobeck||Utah State|
|Central Kitsap||Brion Anduze||Arizona|
|Central Kitsap||Eric Ledumsa||CWU|
|Chiawana||Dre Sonte Dorton||EWU|
|Chiawana||Isaiah Richie||Eastern Oregon|
|Eastside Catholic||Cody Baker||New Mexico|
|Eastside Catholic||Deion Fetui||Air Force|
|Eastside Catholic||Anthony Masaniai||Air Force|
|Eastside Catholic||Alex Neale||UNLV|
|Edmonds-Woodway||Nick Venema||Western Oregon|
|Evergreen (Vancouver)||Kobey Eaton||Montana|
|Evergreen (Vancouver)||Justice Murphy||Wyoming|
|Evergreen (Vancouver)||Billy Nelson||Weber State|
|Evergreen (Vancouver)||Jerrin Williams||Montana|
|Emerald Ridge||Wain Clarke||Hillsdale (Mich.)|
|Emerald Ridge||Jake March||South Dakota School of Mines|
|Emerald Ridge||Brett Rankin||South Dakota School of Mines|
|Federal Way||Chico McClatcher||UW|
|Federal Way||Jared Pulu||Air Force|
|Federal Way||Charlie Taumoepeau||Portland State|
|Federal Way||David Tiumalu||South Dakota School of Mines|
|Foss||Chris "Scooby" Reynolds||Idaho State|
|Glacier Peak||Mason Braun||CWU|
|Glacier Peak||Mosese Fifita||Air Force|
|Gonzaga Prep||Jack Bamis||Idaho|
|Jackson||Keynan Foster||Florida A&M|
|Kennedy||Dartanian Henry||Scottsdale CC|
|Kennedy||Manase Kamoto||Scottsdale CC|
|Kennedy||Jr. Njauamo||Scottsdale CC|
|Kentridge||Braiden Beckman||Idaho State|
|Lake Stevens||Tevin Gray||CWU|
|Marysville-Pilchuck||Bryce Vitcovich||Colorado State-Pueblo|
|Meadowdale||Caleb Tingstad||Western Oregon|
|Mount Si||Jonathan Hillel||CWU|
|Mount Si||Chris Schlichting||EWU|
|Mt Spokane||Roy Hyatt||EWU|
|Newport (Bellevue)||Calvin Throckmorton||Oregon|
|O'Dea||Majid Firoozi||UC Davis|
|Peninsula||Major Ali||Carroll College (Mont.)|
|Peninsula||Robert Kvinsland||Idaho State|
|Peninsula||Hayden Smith||Montana Tech|
|Richland||Mason Jackson||Idaho State|
|Rogers||Justus Portmann||Southeastern (Fla.)|
|Shadle Park||Zachary Price||CWU|
|Shadle Park||Brett Rypien||Boise State|
|Skyline||Riley Griffiths||Montana State|
|Steilacoom||Fotu T. Leiato II||Oregon|
|Todd Beamer||Christian Stafford||CWU|
|Tumwater||Addison Barrett||Eastern Oregon|
|Tumwater||Trevor Davis Jr||EWU|
|Tumwater||Kaden Prosser||Eastern Oregon|
|West Valley (Spokane)||Jace Malek||Idaho|
|West Valley (Yakima)||Shane Lemieux||Oregon|
|Wilson||Jack Springer||Benedictine College|