Washington’s 2021 recruiting class could be one of its best, with four high school players from the state in the top 50 in the latest 247sports.com rankings.
247 National Recruiting Editor Brandon Huffman said the class has real talent.
“It’s probably the strongest top-end class that I’ve seen,” Huffman said. “There’s more guys in the top 25 from Washington than from any other state in the West. ... The 2021 class has a chance to be the best ever. It’s not a ridiculous call to say that two years from now, we could be referring to it as the best class in the state’s history.”
Huffman said the 2021 class generated plenty of buzz, before a lot of the players even entered high school.
“We knew a lot about these kids before they even played a varsity snap,” Huffman said.
Eastside Catholic’s J.T. Tuimoloau stays at the top overall spot nationally in the latest update, which was released on Tuesday. The 6-foot-4, 277-pound defensive end led the Crusaders to the Class 3A state title in 2018. Tuimoloau is being recruited by Washington, Alabama, Ohio State, USC and others.
Huffman said there wasn’t any debate, when it came to Tuimoloau staying in the top spot.
“When we were having our discussions, we immediately went to, ‘OK who’s the No. 2 guy?’” Huffman said. “There was no debate.”
Kennedy Catholic quarterback Sam Huard, who recently made his commitment to UW, comes in at No. 8 on the list, and is the top-rated quarterback in the class. As a sophomore, Huard threw for a career-high 4,165 yards and 42 touchdowns on 248 of 395 passing. He has led the state in passing in back-to-back seasons.
“Just the growth he’s shown from his freshman to sohpomore year, he’s more than just a stat QB,” Huffman said. “When you watch him in 7-on-7, too, he can make the college level, NFL-level throws. He doesn’t look like he’s done growing. He’s getting a little bigger, a little stronger. His ability to read defenses and the things that only come with reps, he’s really developing those things.”
Steilacoom’s Emeka Egbuka slots in at No. 13. Egbuka, who is being recruited by UW, Florida State, Ohio State and others, is considered an athlete by 247. The 2A SPSL Sound co-MVP was a consistent threat in all three phases last season. He had 72 catches for 1,492 yards and 23 touchdowns as a receiver, and added a team-high eight interceptions at corner. He scored three more times on special teams, and averaged 163.3 all-purpose yards per game.
Huffman said he believes Egbuka projects as a wide receiver at the college level.
“My player (comparison) is JuJu Smith-Schuster,” Huffman said. “What I loved about JuJu, he could be a Pro-Bowl safety, if he wanted. Emeka is in that same category. He’s got a unique blend of good size, strength, ability to run routes, great hands, and then he’s fast, on top of it.”
Lincoln’s Julien Simon comes in at No. 33, and is also considered an athlete by 247. Most project Simon to play defense at the next level, although the 6-foot-2, 221-pound prospect has excelled all over the field at Lincoln. The Abes’ defensive back was the 3A PCL defensive player of the year in 2018 finished with a team-leading five interceptions and 13 touchdowns — including four defensive scores. He is being recruited by USC, Utah, Washington and others.
Huffman said he views Simon as a linebacker at the next level.
“My player comp for him is Myles Jack,” Huffman said. “He’s that big, powerful back, but you watch him in coverage, with that athlete athleticism, and you can throw him on an island. He can run with a running back, a slot, etc. ... He reminds me so much of Myles Jack athletically. He can cover in space, get to the QB. He’s just a good football player.”
Huffman said it’s worth noting how dispersed the talent in the state.
“You almost always assume the top kids are from Seattle,” Huffman said. “But four of the top players in the Washington area are kind of in that South Sound area, and even further south. You don’t really talk about kids when they’re in youth football but these kids kind of forced you to. Even as youngsters, they were making waves together on a national scale.”
As for where some of the yet-uncommitted players could wind up, that’s still anyone’s guess, but Huffman said Huard is hard at work recruiting on behalf of the Huskies.
“Sam is trying to get the whole gang together, trying to get as many of the guys as he can to go with him,” Huffman said. “Him having that ability to round these guys up, you could see UW getting some of them. ... With UW getting Sam to commit early, him spending two years as an extension of that staff, they’ll have a very good chance to get some of those guys.”
Also making the list were Kennedy Catholic wide receiver Jabez Tinae, who came in at No. 138, O’Dea offensive lineman Owen Prentice comes in at No. 208 and Bethel’s Will Latu comes in at No. 213.