Jayden Simon opened some good presents on Christmas Day — shirts, some shorts, a new necklace, a North Face jacket and an Amazon Fire Stick.
But, the best gift of all for the Lincoln High School lineman? A call from the University of Colorado football program.
Simon, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound senior who played both ways for the Abes, was likely headed to an FCS program to continue his until Colorado assistant coach Jimmy Brumbaugh called and expressed interest.
Simon visited the campus in Boulder, Colo., on Jan. 25, and came back home to Tacoma with a scholarship offer. Wednesday afternoon, he celebrated signing with the Buffaloes with friends and family in Lincoln’s auditorium.
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“I just like the environment down there and the coaches,” Simon said. “They know what it takes to win, and what it takes to create a championship team. That’s what I really liked about them.”
Simon — who was a TNT All-Area selection as a senior after piling up 54 tackles, including 20 for losses and nine sacks, and blocking for an offense that averaged 443 yards per game — is projected to play defense at Colorado. He was also an Associated Press honorable mention pick on both sides of the ball in 2018.
“Another big guy. I love the guy,” said Colorado first-year head coach Mel Tucker in his press conference Wednesday. “The guy came in and he’s so excited to have the opportunity to play here because he knows that we’re building something special. He knows that it’s important to have strong players in our trenches on both sides of the ball and he is that.
“When you look at the tight copy of some of his film, you cannot see the offensive lineman across from him because he’s just that big and wide. He’s got great lower body structure. He’s a second- and third-effort pass rusher and is stout in the trenches in the run game. He’s going to command double-teams. He loves football.”
Simon chose Colorado over offers from Montana State, Portland State and Sacramento State.
He is the first player from Lincoln to sign with a Pac-12 program since Jusstis Warren joined Washington in 2015. He’s also one of just 11 known players from a Tacoma Public Schools football program to sign with a Power 5 school in the past two decades, according to data from 247Sports.com.
Simon joins Lincoln’s Quazzel White (TCU, 2017), Warren (UW, 2015), Foss’ Scott Chricton (Oregon State, 2010), Wilson’s Xavier Cooper (WSU, 2010), Wilson’s Desmond Trufant (UW, 2009), Mount Tahoma’s Geno Munoz (Oregon State, 2008), Michael Willis (WSU, 2004), Wilson’s Larry Stevens (Michigan, 2000), Wilson’s Andre Reeves (UW, 2000) and Wilson’s Marcus Trufant (WSU, 1999) in that category.
“It speaks to his family for obviously raising him the right way and being hard on him, and him putting in the work,” Lincoln coach Masaki Matsumoto said of Simon. “But, also, it hopefully gives hope to the kids in Tacoma — if you just do the work, it doesn’t matter your circumstance or background, you can do whatever (you want).”
Elsewhere in the South Sound, more than 50 football signings were reported on National Signing Day — in addition to the 12 local players who solidified commitments during December’s early period.
Another Lincoln lineman, Giovonni White, was one of two South Sound players to sign with Georgetown. Lakes defensive back Daeshawn Wayne was the other.
Georgetown assistant John Bear, a good friend of Matsumoto’s who is from the Seattle area, recruited both White and Wayne.
“He’s been doing a good job of hitting our area,” Lakes coach Dave Miller said. “And, of course, Gio and Daeshawn both have really good grades, so it’s a good fit. Georgetown is a high academic school. You have to be good (at football), and you have to be good academically, too.”
White and Wayne are the first South Sound players to join a Georgetown roster since it became an FCS school in 1993.
“I’m very excited to go with someone I’m close with and familiar with, because Washington to Washington D.C. — that’s a long way,” Wayne said.
White, a two-time TNT All-Area and all-state pick, and two-time AP all-state pick, is expected to play defensive line for the Hoyas. “Wherever I can get to the quarterback, pretty much, is what they said,” he said.
He capped his senior season with 65 tackles, including a 3A classification-leading 25 for losses and nine sacks, while also anchoring the Abes’ offensive line.
White said the education Georgetown offers — he picked the Hoyas over Eastern Washington and Central Washington — is as important as continuing his football career.
“I go there for four years, and it will set me up for 40 years,” White said. “That’s what they go by on the football team, and that’s what I believe.”
Wayne, who has a 3.9 GPA, shared a similar outlook on Georgetown, which he chose over Weber State and some of the Ivy League schools after taking his official visit last month.
“That was very important,” he said of the quality of education the school offers. “They preach more about academics than athletics, so I thought, ‘Yeah, this is the perfect fit for me.’ ”
Wayne is expected to be a defensive back for the Hoyas. He led the 3A Pierce County League in interceptions as a senior with eight.
Other Division I football signings around the South Sound included Kent Meridian’s Tua Areta (Montana State), Yelm’s Jacob Dimond (Idaho State), Peninsula’s Burke Griffin (New Hampshire), Curtis’ Marlon Jones Jr. (Eastern Washington), Bellarmine Prep’s Nick Kokich (Eastern Washington, preferred walk-on), Enumclaw’s Kellen Kranc (Eastern Washington, preferred walk-on), Auburn Riverside’s Justus Legg (Portland State), Peninsula’s Braeden Potter (Washington State, preferred walk-on), Graham-Kapowsin’s Ethan Tela-Porter (Portland State) and Kentridge’s Natano Woods (San Jose State).
2019 SOUTH SOUND FOOTBALL SIGNINGS
Drew Ahlf, Timberline (Pacific Lutheran)
Tua Areta, Kent Meridian (Montana State)
Sekai Asoau, Fife (Central Washington)
Jeremy Banks, Kentridge (Central Washington)
Isaiah Bradley, Lincoln (Fort Scott CC)
Hunter Campau, Timberline (Central Washington, preferred walk-on)
Roman Casey, Bonney Lake (Simon Fraser)
Ryan Clarin, Tahoma (Simon Fraser)
Riley Clark, Sumner (Valley City State)
Miles Cooney, Curtis (Western Oregon)
Jacob Dimond, Yelm (Idaho State)
Vance Dumas, Hazen (Valley City State)
Bailey Elder, Stadium (Simon Fraser)
Ethan Eilertson, Enumclaw (Central Washington)
Jordan Etter, Spanaway Lake (Dakota Wesleyan)
Jamin Fa’alogo, Timberline (Central Washington)
Alan Fischer, Lakes (Central Washington)
Camyron Gaulke, Lakes (Dakota Wesleyan)
Kodee Gifford, Yelm (Linfield College)
J.J. Graham, Timberline (Butte College)
Burke Griffin, Peninsula (New Hampshire)
Michael Gurr, Cascade Christian (Pacific Lutheran)
Nick Harberts, Enumclaw (Valley City State)
Nate Hughes, Bethel (Western Oregon)
Carver Ibanez, Kennedy Catholic (Dakota Wesleyan)
Marlon Jones Jr., Curtis (Eastern Washington)
Dajshon Keel, South Kitsap (Dakota State)
Nick Kokich, Bellarmine Prep (Eastern Washington, preferred walk-on)
Kellen Kranc, Enumclaw (Eastern Washington, preferred walk-on)
Justin Kuhn, Timberline (Pacific Lutheran)
Justus Legg, Auburn Riverside (Portland State)
J.J. Lemming, Steilacoom (Central Washington)
Khalil Lewis, Lakes (Snow College)
Kincade McFarlane, Todd Beamer (Western Oregon)
Darius Morrison, Puyallup (Central Washington)
Brandon Niksich, Todd Beamer (Simon Fraser)
Trenton Olson, Curtis (Arizona Christian)
Braeden Potter, Peninsula (WSU, preferred walk-on)
Kyle Robinson, Yelm (Pacific Lutheran)
Anthony Russell, Enumclaw (Valley City State)
Graham Schmidt, Peninsula (Valley City State)
Matthew Schwaerzler, Fife (Dakota Wesleyan)
Andrew Senator, Sumner (Pacific Lutheran)
David Shaulis, Bethel (Western Oregon)
Jayden Simon, Lincoln (Colorado)
Darrion Smith, Enumclaw (Simon Fraser)
Nate Spears, Hazen (Valley City State)
Khalif Spry, Peninsula (College of the Siskiyous)
Jaiden Thomas-Fuertes, Spanaway Lake (Central Washington)
Ethan Tela-Porter, Graham-Kapowsin (Portland State)
Eugene Tilei, Federal Way (Western Oregon)
Aaron Tulloch, Kent Meridian (Western Oregon)
Matthew Utu, Enumclaw (Western Oregon, preferred walk-on)
Daeshawn Wayne, Lakes (Gerogetown)
Giovonni White, Lincoln (Georgetown)
Natano Woods, Kentridge (San Jose State)
DECEMBER EARLY PERIOD
Trey Davis, Federal Way (USC)
Davion Gaines, Stadium (Portland State)
Justin Haase, Puyallup (Weber State)
Gresch Jensen, Auburn Mountainview, Fullerton College (Texas State)
Xavier Mason, Stadium (Sacramento State)
Dylan Morris, Graham-Kapowsin (Washington)
Aaron Olmos, Graham-Kapowsin (Montana Western)
Jeremiah Palaita, Decatur (Air Force)
Soli Paleso’o, Fife (Eastern Washington)
Nehemiah Shird, Steilacoom (Utah State, preferred walk-on)
Alphonzo Tuputala, Federal Way (Washington)
Corbin Walker, Hazen (Montana)
Jaymason Willingham, Steilacoom (Utah State)