When it comes to making a college football recruiting decision, Chris Paulson usually has a pearl of wisdom waiting to help his players at Curtis High School.
And he certainly had one reserved for senior Marlon Jones Jr.
Early on, Jones was really set on signing with an FBS or FCS program as a wide receiver. With his deep-threat speed and ability to get in and out of cuts, he attracted his share of attention.
“I told him, as a 6-foot cornerback, you are going to be seen a lot better (by colleges) than as a 6-foot wideout,” Paulson said.
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Jones was one of two rangy cornerbacks that FCS national runner-up Eastern Washington University signed Wednesday to close its 2019 class.
Eagles coach Aaron Best was ecstatic in getting Jones to join “the family of backpedal” as a defensive back.
“He’s got a great personalty. I love being around him,” Best said. “He has the sneaky smile on his face, but you know there is a great amount of upside to him as a football player.”
Eastern wanted to sign two wide receivers to this class, and evaluated Jones early at that position.
Last week, Paulson was contacted by a pair of Curtis alums in defensive line coach Brian Strandley and wide receivers coach Jay Dumas about trying to get Jones on board with signing as a cornerback.
Jones visited the Eastern campus Friday and Saturday, hanging out with former Lincoln standout Dehonta Hayes, who is part of the Eastern secondary.
“He told me it was a good time for defensive backs around here, because a lot of them were either hurt or graduating,” said Jones, who was likely headed toward being an invited walk-on at Washington State University before the Eagles came calling — again.
“And I know with my speed, along with my size, I can contribute.”
Ideally, Best said he wanted to sign three cornerbacks, but only Jones and California product Trey Edwards are part of this 2019 class so far. The coach said he might add another defensive back in the coming weeks.
▪Eastern added to its young group of quarterbacks by signing Trey Turner on scholarship, and getting Enumclaw’s Kellen Kranc to come as an invited walk-on.
He compared the situation much like 2014 when Camas’ Reilly Henessey signed with the Eagles, and Gabe Gubrud walk on from McMinnville (Ore.) High School. Gubrud eventually supplanted Henessey as Eastern’s starter.
“They both understand what competition means,” Best said. “And we are a better team creating more competition.”
Eric Barriere, who will be a redshirt junior, will return as the Eagles’ projected starter next season.
▪The Eagles usually scour the greater Tacoma-Seattle area for a good portion of their recruiting classes annually, but this is one of those rare years they signed more out-of-state players.
Best even signed his first Canadian recruit since taking over as head coach — offensive tackle Matthew Hewa Baddege.
“(The state of Washington) is getting recruited by way more schools,” Best said. “That does play into it. We always try and start local — Spokane — and then spread our wings to bigger local settings in Washington.”
2019 EASTERN SIGNEES
OL George Becker, 6-4/265, Gridley, Calif. (Gridley)
RB Kyle Bryant, 6-0/185, San Fernando, Calif. (San Fernando)
OL Luke Dahlgren, 6-3/260, Forks, Wash. (Forks)
CB Trey Edwards, 6-0/165, Los Angeles, Calif. (Narbonne)
OL Isaac Flemmer, 6-7/265, Banks, Ore. (Valley Catholic)
*LB Steven Flowers, 6-2/215, Grand Coulee, Wash. (Lake Roosevelt)
TE Blake Gobel, 6-6/220, Banks, Ore. (Banks)
DT Sebastian Gomez, 6-1/260, Salinas, Calif. (Salinas)
**LB Ty Graham, 6-0/205, Cheney, Wash. (Cheney, Univ. of Idaho)
DE Warren Hardin, 6-3/225, Riverside, Calif. (Riverside Poly)
DE Brock Harrison, 6-3/235, Ridgefield, Wash. (Ridgefield)
OL Matt Hewa-Baddege, 6-7/325, Port Coquitiam, B.C. (Terry Fox)
LB Jaeger Hoffmann, 6-3/205, Moorpark, Calif. (Moorpark)
TE Dawson Ingram, 6-5/240, Camas, Wash. (Camas)
WR Jakobie James, 6-2/185, Redlands, Calif. (Redlands)
WR Chris Johnson, 6-4/210, Sammamish, Wash. (Skyline)
CB Marlon Jones Jr., 6-0/175, University Place, Wash. (Curtis)
*P Nick Kokich, 6-2/200, Tacoma, Wash. (Bellarmine Prep)
*QB Kellen Kranc, 6-3/180, Enumclaw, Wash. (Enumclaw)
*OL Cameron Lynch, 6-3/250, Sammamish, Wash. (Eastlake)
*DL Jacob Newsom, 6-3/250, Colville, Wash. (Colville)
DT Soli Paleso’o, 6-3/270, Fife, Wash. (Fife)
*RB Slias Perreiah, 5-11/210, Spokane, Wash. (Northwest Christian of Colbert)
QB Trey Turner, 6-1/190, Pittsburg, Calif. (Pittsburg)
S Jordan White, 6-0/190, Lynwood, Calif. (Chaparral)
*Denotes preferred walk-on