Foster Sarell made some slight alterations to the giant, goal-strewn chalkboard in his bedroom.
When he was 14, he wrote that he wanted to become an NCAA Division I basketball player. That’s since been erased, but the rest remain: Get a scholarship, play Division-I football, be an All-American, play in the NFL, be a Hall of Famer.
“Basketball is gone for sure,” said Sarell, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Graham-Kapowsin junior. “But the end goal is the same: I want to go to the Hall of Fame, be in Canton and have the nice head statue and everything.”
Those first two goals are essentially in the bag. Or the box. Sarell keeps a giant cardboard box stuffed with college letters. Notre Dame sent him more than 130 letters in one day (all the same). Florida State sent 110 (all different).
Alabama and Michigan superimposed his face onto a weightlifter’s body or one holding a trophy. USC created a custom license plate for him.
I’m very much in my head, a self-motivator. From Day One, I’ve always felt the only way I’ll ever beat someone is if I out-will and outwork someone. That’s my motto.
Foster Sarell, Graham-Kapowsin junior rated at the No. 2 high school offensive lineman in the nation
He said he will not commit early, at least not until he takes his official visits (he and his family are still deciding where those will be). He might even revive a since-disappeared trend and announce on signing day.
Sarell is ranked the seventh-best 2017 recruit in the nation by Scout.com and No. 2 offensive tackle. The player ranked ahead of him, Calvin Ashley of Orlando, has verbally committed to Auburn.
Consider where Sarell ranks among some of the more recent lineman out of Washington: Puyallup’s Joshua Garnett, an AP first-team All-American this year, was ranked No. 42 overall in 2012. Lakes’ Zach Banner was No. 72 that same year. Bellevue’s David DeCastro, an All-Pro pick with the Pittsburgh Steelers this year, was No. 247 in 2008 and Bellevue’s Stephen Schilling was No. 19 in 2006.
“He can certainly be in that group of guys,” said one FBS recruiter who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s just going to be being able to make the transition. At O-line, it does not matter how talented a kid is, it’s a different type of strength and hopefully you can get those guys in the weight room to get them strong enough to handle a 12- to 13-game season.”
Since Scout.com began tracking recruiting rankings in 2002, the state of Washington had not had back-to-back classes with a player ranked in the top 10. Lake Stevens’ Jacob Eason, who played Sarell’s Graham-Kapowsin in this past season’s 4A state quarterfinals, is ranked No. 7 overall in the 2016 class.
“(Eason’s and Sarell’s) recruiting is going to be so much different because Sarell isn’t a quarterback, but call me crazy — I think Foster’s ceiling is actually higher than Jacob’s,” said Brandon Huffman, Scout.com’s director of recruiting.
Not that Sarell is caught up in all of that.
He said he’s not paying attention to rankings and he’s not big into the hype.
“I will see No. 8 or 10 or wherever I’m at and I’m like, ‘I should be No. 1,’ ” Sarell said.
Sarrell said he won’t commit to a college until after making campus visits, and he and his family are still narrowing down his choices.
Graham-Kapowsin coach Eric Kurle, a former Pacific Lutheran University quarterback, said Sarell plays better than most college lineman do. And he’s got the muscle definition and physique you wouldn’t expect from a high school junior his size.
“I’m very much in my head, a self-motivator,” said Sarell, just hours after receiving a scholarship offer from Notre Dame. “From Day One, I’ve always felt the only way I’ll ever beat someone is if I out-will and outwork someone. That’s my motto.
“In AAU basketball I played against guys who were 6-foot-10 with arms that could touch the walls. But I told myself that I’m going to outwork them. They are not going to want to deal with 300 pounds down and back the entire game. That’s what I did and that’s how I think I’ve survived. You got to be physical and nasty and you got to play tougher than them.”
And he’ll let everything else — recruiters and scouting analysts — make up their own minds.
“I like being on the edge of the country,” Sarell said. “A lot of people might not know who I am, but once I get to college my freshman year I hope to dominate college football.
“That would be pretty cool because everybody would be like, ‘Where did this kid come from?’ ”
Staff writer Todd Milles contributed to this report
Nuggets-in-waiting: Class of 2017
Salvon Ahmed: Juanita, athlete, 5-11, 180
Henry Bainivalu: Skyline, offensive lineman, 6-6, 300
Hunter Bryant: Eastside Catholic, athlete, 6-3, 230
Cody Kanouse: Peninsula, offensive lineman, 6-7, 280
Elijah Molden: West Linn (Oregon), defensive back, 5-10, 175
Connor Neville: Wilsonville (Oregon), quarterback, 6-2, 195
Sam Noyer: Beaverton (Oregon), quarterback, 6-4, 200
Cade Otton: Tumwater, linebacker, 6-5, 210
Foster Sarell: Graham-Kapowsin, offensive lineman, 6-6, 300
Marlon Tuipulotu: Central (Ore.), defensive lineman, 6-2, 280