Coach B's Updated 2021 Recruit Breakdown: February 2020

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2021 recruiting class looking like one of the strongest local classes in a years, as well as UW's early momentum with these elite recruits, I figured I'd start compiling my notes from their film. I'm building off of my original post on the 2021 class with deeper dives into their film as well as a handful of new additions.

New Additions in this Edition:

  • Zakhari Spears, DB
  • Junior Alexander, WR
  • Kobe Muasau, QB
  • TJ Bollers, DE
  • Logan Fano, OLB

Updates in this Edition:

  • Sam Huard, QB
  • Emeka Egbuka, WR/DB
  • Troy Franklin, WR
  • Julien Simon, LB
  • Will Latu, DB
  • Moliki Matavao, TE
  • Ethan Calvert, LB
  • Kuao Peihopa, iOL
  • Owen Prentice, iOL
  • Wynden Ho'ohuli, ILB

Quick Hits:

  • The Lake Effect: This is my first recruiting update since last fall, and boy has there been some seismic changes in UW recruiting. Between a relatively mediocre 8-5 season, Coach Pete's abrupt departure, Jimmy Lake's immediate ascension to the top spot, a whirlwind early signing period, and a handful of staff moves, there is a lot to digest. Lake has preached a more aggressive approach to football, and I will go into more detail on the recruiting effects below. All things considered, I have been impressed by the renewed energy that I see emanating from Lake's staff, and I think that his passion has resonated with the 2020 class that was somewhat surprisingly kept intact. I think that the transition into the Lake-era on Montlake will be remembered more as a "shot in the arm" infusion of fresh blood than as any real shift away from the Petersen-built bones of the program, both on and off the field, although the jury is still out as far as the true on-field effects of the coaching changes.
  • Recent Recruiting Developments: I see some major changes to Lake's recruiting strategy that may signify a major push to land the biggest targets in the 2021 class. Coach Pete left Lake with a strong roster, and the smooth transition, especially the 2020 class, will allow Lake to avoid any dip in recruiting, and Coach Pete's efforts in building a strong walk-on program is the cornerstone of the 2021 efforts. Outside of a strong 2020 scholarship class, Lake has brought in a number of very promising PWOs that have legitimate D1 talent. Guys like Kasen Kinchen, Logan Bruce, and potentially Lanalika Pei are high end PWOs that I could see being future scholarship players. Bringing in such talented kids as PWOs will build our roster depth so that we are better prepared to be in the hunt for the national prospects. Those national prospects often have drawn out recruiting processes that hurt other recruiting efforts if we strike out. Other noticeable changes in our recruiting include earlier offers to young but talented prospects and the hiring of Justin Glenn to be a full-time recruiting director.
  • Roster Attrition: Looking at next year's projected roster attrition, the 2021 class will likely be a fairly small class, but that should bode well for our ability to focus on the huge names that we have set our sights on. If we can reel in Huard, JTT, Emeka, and Prentice locally, then we'd already have cornerstone pieces to add to our already stacked roster. Moving outside of our local area, we have pretty significant pull nationally when recruiting DBs, so I wouldn't be surprised if we made a run at a handful of the top guys, but our recent PWO coups have given us a bit of a buffer to fall back on if we pull in fewer than the 4 DBs that we are expecting to graduate. Realistically, I'm also expecting to begin seeing some attrition at our heaviest depth positions like ILB and maybe even DB.


Sam Huard (QB, 6'2" 180, Kennedy Catholic, WA)

(UPDATE 2/11): Huard's junior season was a HUGE validation of his talents. As a classic pocket-oriented passer, arm talent was going to determine Huard's ceiling in my eyes, and arm strength in particular was what I wanted to see improvement in. While I don't consider A+ arm strength to be essential for collegiate success, Huard's arm strength was average as a sophomore, and I thought that simply improving from a "C" arm to a "B" arm, when paired with his timing/touch and football instincts, would solidify him as a 5* in my opinion. As I hoped, his steady physical development (as should be expected of any teenager) translated into at least a "B+" arm that can make every throw on the field if the timing is right.

Watching his tape, many of Huard's highlights are deep perimeter shots to talented WRs or posts/seams to against wide-open looks. While his talent is on full display, I have a hard time separating his personal performance from that of his WRs and any potential talent discrepancy. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt based on a few red zone passes, but I haven't seen enough of his short to intermediate passing abilities to make much of a statement on them. I fully expect a monster senior season out of Huard.

As a legacy 5 star and top 1 or 2 QB in the nation, Sam looks to be the next star in the Huard dynasty at UW. Huard will be the foundation of this recruiting class. As the only commit on for this recruiting class at the moment, Huard has been the 2021 recruiting ambassador, similar to Kalepo in 2018, and he seems to have a knack for it. As the star QB for a top 7v7 team in the West, Huard seems to be in the ear of many of the top skills players in the country, and this very well might be the beginnings of a stellar offensive class.

As for Huard's play on the field, it seems fitting that Sam, the top QB to come out of the state of Washington since Jacob Eason, might be the next in line to replace him if he decides to exhaust his eligibility. However, Huard looks more like a prototypical-Petersen QB than an Eason-esque gun slinger. At 6'2" 180 lbs with a decent but not elite arm, the Huard reminds me a lot of (gasp!) Jake Browning. The lefty seems to have a presence and feel for the game, and many of his best plays are ones where he simply executes the play as designed with the right reads and in rhythm (much like Browning). He will likely fit the mold of an efficient system manager that Petersen has built his reputation developing. He has some slight limitations right now in that the ball doesn't jump out of his hand, and he often leans on perimeter timing routes with touch more than in-breaking routes that require zip to fit between defenders, but as a sophomore he was able to place the ball anywhere on the field. If 20% was all that separated Browning's arm from Eason, I full expect Huard to eventually land somewhere in between as he grows and fills out his frame, which should improve his arm strength. The throwing form is there, and he has the functional athleticism to make use of bootlegs and moving pocket concepts.

I'll be excited to see how Huard builds on his stellar early success and how he develops as an athlete.

Zakhari Spears (DB, 6'3" 185, Loyola HS, CA)

(NEW 2/11): I’m getting a sense that this is a strong upside recruit that needs to build his skill set that looks to have been a little limited by his HS scheme. Not to disrespect 247's Greg Biggins, who wrote one of the only free analysis pieces on Spears, but I'm not sure where he is seeing Spears's press-man coverage skills on display. He played the vast majority of his tape shows him playing off-coverage in what looks to be zone, so he may need to put in some work in college to develop the press-man skills that larger CBs often benefit from. However, the off-coverage zone reps do seem to have developed his instincts and tackling skills as he frequently triggered downhill from 10+ yards off the LOS to come up and make a tackle or a play on an underneath pass. He exhibited a fairly quick trigger, burst, straight-line speed, and a willingness to hit ball carriers and underneath receivers. The majority of the plays that he made from his CB tape actually indicate some upside if we decided to make him a safety (although I have absolutely no insider info about if that’s a possibility). The same read-react instincts and downhill tackling in space that he showed are also important skills as a safety (he does play some safety).

What I was initially concerned about when considering his CB potential was how his athletic traits and skills would translate to UW’s scheme. While he has the length that we’ve been hunting for lately (he’s listed at 6-3), as well as overall athleticism, he didn’t always show off the agility that is often critical to effective man coverage that I felt like we were trying to play more this year. While not immediately obvious based on the plays on his tape, I did see a couple of plays in his sophomore tape that shows pretty fluid hips and quick feet for a kid that is as tall as he is. There was a specific play on his sophomore tape where he it looked like the WR was running a double move fade where Spears had to play an initial inside release then flip his hips outside on the eventual double move. The hips and footwork on that play show that he has good tools to work with, but he does have a lot of work to do with regards to the actual technique. There were very few plays where it looked like he was playing true man coverage, and most of his plays on the ball were him relying on his length to bail him out of being out of position. There just weren’t many plays that looked like he played tight coverage, so that may be a steep learning curve for him.

Overall this is a good pick up, especially this early in the recruiting cycle. Given how many DBs were probably going to end up taking, Spears is AT MINIMUM a good depth/development guy who’s HS scheme MAY be limiting him from showing off his full skill set.

Targets with Offers:

JT Tuimoloau (DT, 6'5" 277, Eastside Catholic, WA)

If Huard is the foundation of our recruiting class, Tuimoloau would be our crown jewel. As the consensus top player in the state and 247's #1 in the country, JTT would be an enormous recruiting coup if he were to land on Montlake. A truly prototypical new-age DL in the mold of a Michael Bennett, JTT has the blend of athleticism and size that would make him a versatile plug-and-play lineman anywhere along the line and even OLB or TE, as he has done on the 7v7 passing circuit. He is built like a "big athlete" where he looks more like a short basketball power forward than your typical DT, which makes a lot of sense if you look deeper into his athletic background. As a 2-sport star for local powerhouse Eastside Catholic, it is clear that he is a natural athlete that isn't overly focused on one sport, and I tend to think that the best football players are those that have a passion for the sport but can also excel in other sports as well.

From the limited tape that I could find on him, which is surprising considering how hyped he is, Tuimoloau is a naturally fluid athlete that can turn and run with much smaller athletes. He isn't overly twitchy, or overwhelmingly powerful, but he has enough of both to be a dominant defensive weapon. I disagree with 247's comparison to Vita Vea since JTT is almost 70 lbs lighter and no where near the same build. Instead I could see him play in the 290-300 range and mold his game like Levi where he is more of a prototypical 4-3 DT than a classic 2-gap NT like Gaines. However, his athleticism and overall build/background would make me take a long look at his potential to be what Benning Potoa'e couldn't quite make work, a big pass rush OLB/DE. He played some OLB as a HS freshman, and he has the movement skills to potentially make it happen, but I'd be curious to see how he develops physically and how his natural weight carries him positionally.

Emeka Egbuka (WR/DB, 6'1" 190, Steilacoom HS, WA)

(UPDATE 2/11): Simply put, wow. As would be expected out of the #1 Athlete in his class, Egbuka's athleticism continues to impress. The elite first-step acceleration, natural fluidity, and excellent ball skills that pushed him into the national spotlight as a sophomore only became more evident during his junior season. While athletes of his caliber are often afforded the ability to lean on their talent, it seems as though Egbuka has taken to his craft over the off season and has developed true WR skills. He has refined his usage of leverage and subtle double moves to beat coverages that are clearly selling out to prevent the deep ball. I also noticed more consistent use of his hands both in his subtle hand fighting in routes and in his improved "hand catching" away from his body at the high point. While there were lapses when he would revert to "body catching" (typically on shorter breaking routes where it seemed like he was a beat late in tracking the ball), it is nice to see an effort being made as he has fantastic leaping ability that could make him a deadly jump ball despite his relatively average height.

His expanded usage in the WR screen game also provided some impressive highlights as he looked like he was in punt return mode on every screen. He is an elite runner once he has the ball in his hands, which is not always a given when it comes to WRs. He understands how to sift through chaos, and he has improved his contact balance to the point where I could see him being a jet sweep player that actually gets 3-4 carries a game.

Emeka Egbuka out of Steilacoom, WA is the No. 1 athlete in the class and UW is the highest projected school at 50% on the crystal ball. He projects as a WR for us and has length (6-1) and speed (4.4) that might make him an intriguing DB prospect if WR doesn't work out. Egbuka is dynamic with the ball in his hands, and he has speed that jumps off of the screen. He is sudden in his cuts and runs like a deer. Unlike most athletes of his size, Egbuka is both fast and quick with explosiveness that would've probably made him a good RB 15 years ago before the passing game became an offensive focal point. We've been recruiting WR heavily for the last several years with little indication on how our later Lubick-era WRs (Spiker and Osborne) will turn out. I'd guess that we'd take a talent like Egbuka regardless, but it might be even more critical if none of those young guys pan out.

Troy Franklin (WR, 6'2" 170, Menlo-Atherton, CA)

(UPDATE 2/11): Much like Egbuka, Franklin is an immense athlete that is just on a different level than his HS opponents. Many of my notes from his sophomore tape are still applicable to his junior tape. His easy speed is still apparent, and his hands seem to have gained a little more consistency (even though he already had strong hands). Franklin's skill set still seems to be a bit limited by his team's simplistic passing offense that has him running fades, slants and screens (similar to Egbuka's usage). Even the slants were relatively limited. I'd like to see a greater number of breaking routes (both in and out breaking) to feel comfortable with his technical route running skills.

Franklin seems a little more fast than quick when compared to Egbuka, so I'd like to see how comfortable he is in using acceleration, clean cuts, and various catch points in the underneath and intermediate game. There is a big difference between catching passes over your shoulder or leaping over DBs on the perimeter and in traffic among LBs who may be barreling towards you. Also overlooked is the different timing and necessary ball tracking when passes are being rifled into the tighter windows and on shorter passes. I'm confident in Franklin's overall talents, but I have seen enough athletes get tripped up by these differences in the WR skill sets that I'd like to see a little more in that area for my own peace of mind.

As a composite top 3 WR in the 2021 class, Troy Franklin's genuine interest in UW is another huge sign of progress that we have made under Coach Adams, although it probably helps that he also plays with Huard on the 7v7 circuit. At 6-2 with legitimate speed, Franklin fits the mold of the types of kids that we have been targeting over the last 3 years. His athleticism and vision with the ball in his hands is apparent immediately, as are his ball tracking and hands. However, while he is a phenomenal athlete that has potential at WR, it was hard for me to truly get a feel for his actual skills as a WR. The vast majority of his touches were either jump balls on go routes, screens, tosses, or direct snaps as a single wing QB. Given the very rudimentary passing game that he played in, I don't know how he would look running timing routes, routes over the middle, or double moves. I also don't know how good he is getting releases against various coverages since he played against defenses that were focusing on the run.

I'll be keeping an eye out for a little more diversity in his skill set, but I can't blame the kid for what his system limits him to. He does a good job at what he's asked to do, and there isn't much more I can ask of him.

Julien Simon (LB, 6'2" 221, Lincoln HS, WA)

(UPDATE 2/11): Simon's listed as an athlete on 247, and his junior year is further evidence of why. Despite largely playing as a RB as a sophomore, Simon played much more effectively as a hybrid LB/DB overhang player and as a WR during his junior season. UW is recruiting him primarily as a LB, so I watched his relatively limited hudl tape with that in mind. I really like his coverage instincts, and his offensive ball skills seem to translate well to his defensive role. He mostly played as an off-ball OLB or slot defender as a zone coverage defender in the curl-flat area, and he made a killing breaking on the ball with his excellent athleticism for a prospect that projects to LB in college. His feel for space and offensive route concepts are quite advanced.

There were a handful of plays where he was the slot defender on the wide side of the field where the offense ran a hard play action boot action. On the play he effectively split the distance between the flat and the crosser WR while keeping his eyes on the QB so that he could make a play on the ball. That feel for route combinations and instinctively playing the QB's eyes is something that was missing from our LBs this past year. Simon would be an immense athletic upgrade over every one of the ILBs that got meaningful reps this past season, and his feel for coverage would go a long way in rounding out the skill sets in our ILB room. We've had decent tacklers and pass rushers at ILB over the years, but I'd argue that BBK was the only true cover LB that we've had, and we can agree that his skill set took our defense to a different level.

One area that I'd like to see more action for Simon would be in the box. If he's projected as an ILB at the next level, being able to read fronts and blocking schemes will be critical. We've mostly seen him play in the "alley" (the area between the OL/TEs and the perimeter WR when describing run fits) as the overhang defender, but there are big differences between playing defense in space and in traffic. Block shedding and play diagnosis is something that doesn't always come easily. Our schemes are a bit more forgiving to inexperienced but athletic ILBs since they are often shielded from the traffic and second level blocks. Simon would be a huge recruiting coup.

The only other top 100 prospect out of Washington is Julien Simon out of Lincoln HS in Tacoma. He is the No. 4 athlete in the country. He's a two-way player at RB/WR and LB/Slot DB, but he's played predominantly at RB. We finally offered him after our camps in June, and we offered him as an LB. Simon has tremendous athleticism for his size, and he looks like a grown man out there on the football field. Compared to our last few years of LB recruiting, Simon looks better developed physically, and he might have a shot at making an early impact in 2021, which could help our immediate depth. However, I firmly believe that his best attributes lie are his instincts and ball skills. Having played both ways and up to 5 different positions, Simon has a good football IQ, and he seems to have advanced coverage instincts that most LBs need to develop in college.

I don't have much to report on his actual recruiting, but he finally has an offer in hand and we have at least covered our bases on most of the top local prospects. I'll be keeping an eye out on any further developments

Will Latu (ATH, 6'3" 220, Bethel HS, WA)

(UPDATE 2/11): Latu's junior tape was solid, but as an RB/SS Athlete, Latu's project gets a bit murky with his new tape. It seems to me that Latu played significantly more offense this year, and while he seems to have had a fantastic year at RB, I think that his athletic profile fits better at LB in college these days. Based on his tape, Latu seems to have bulked up to LB size and really brings a level of physicality that you seek in LBs. I wouldn't consider Latu to be slow by any means, but I don't see the quick twitch athleticism that I'd look for in a collegiate offensive skills player. Sometimes HS kids who go both ways prefer offense over defense, even if they'd be better on defense. I'd love to get an update on Latu's views on this from OWW.

As far as his defensive tape, he lined up all over the defense from safety down to Edge. He has good closing speed, decent spatial awareness in coverage, and instincts. In a similar vein as Noah Sewell this past year, I'd like to see Latu hone his skills and instincts to play the ball rather than relying on his size/speed gifts playing downhill for the big hit.

OWW has been on this guy for a long time now, and I can definitely see why. Will, like his brother, is a tremendously athletic, instinctive, and physical football player. Similar to how Sawyer Racanelli just jumped off the screen based on the heady plays and overall awareness of the field no matter what phase of the game he was contributing on, Latu pairs that with a size-speed combination that could feasibly make him either a LB or DB. This is a kid that I really don't have to breakdown all that much. Just take a look at his film for yourself and you will see why.

Moliki Matavao (TE, 6'6" 240, Liberty HS, NV)

(UPDATE 2/11): I was somewhat less impressed with Matavao's junior tape. He continued to play a large role in his HS offense as a go-to target that was utilized in a variety of alignments, and he continued to show his athleticism in the passing game. For a guy that was recently listed as 240 lbs, Matavao has impressive after-the-catch abilities and some power/contact balance that is hard to find for guys his size. He was used as a legitimate WR and was even used on slip screens that you hardly see TEs get featured in.

That being said, Matavao showed a few areas in his game that could use some work. In the passing game, he needs to focus on using his hands when catching the ball. He regularly caught passes with his body, and while that is effective in HS when you have lots of separation, that won't fly at the collegiate level. He also needs to work on high pointing the ball. He seems to have decent leaping abilities, but if he doesn't use his hands or high point the ball, his height/size is somewhat a wasted trait.

Matavao also needs to really work on his blocking. What I had originally liked about his sophomore tape was that he was being utilized in a variety of blocking roles, both in-line and as in insert blocker (FB/H-back). While he continued to be used in this area of the offense, it doesn't seem like he's worked on this part of his game. He doesn't have the functional strength to make solo-blocks on the edge without huge angle advantages. I watched his game against Mililani HS, and I was somewhat shocked by his struggles with some of the kids that he was asked to block. I have some familiarity with Mililani's roster, and there is no reason why Matavao shouldn't be pancaking LBs and DBs that he has 50 lbs on. His effort in-game seems to be there, but he needs to apply some of that effort to the weight room to build up his lower body strength. I would still take his commitment in a heart beat, but sometimes progress isn't linear.

This is a TE whose film I absolutely LOVED. He has silky smooth routes for a TE and legitimate deep speed up the seams. Most recently listed at 6-6 235 lbs, he is on the slighter side of our TE-build spectrum, but he definitely has the athleticism to play more of the Hunter Bryant role than the Will Dissly role in the passing game. His usage in his HS offense could also be a big influence in our projection of him since he is used as an inline Y-TE, FB, H-Back, Slot, and WR. He moves well enough to make blocks in space, and seems to have the toughness/willingness to impose his will once he bulks up a little. From a skill stand point he has the background to fill almost any role we have used our TEs in, but I'd really like to see how he moves with an added 15 lbs to get into our prototypical TE size. If he maintains his athleticism, we could see a truly terrifying Redman-Matavao combo in 2022. I would definitely have Matavao as our TE #1 on the recruiting board.

We may have an inside track on Matavao as he is cousins with Fa'atui Tuitele and was teammates with Troy Fautanu. His relationship with Tuitele and Fautanu should be a nice boost to our recruiting efforts.

Ethan Calvert (ILB, 6'3" 230, Oaks Christian, CA)

(UPDATE 2/11): Calvert's brother made some nice improvements over the off season this year. Playing MLB/OLB for his defense, it looks like he's a beat faster in processing the offense this year. He is playing a bit more instinctively and trusting his eyes. He always had the athleticism and motor to compensate for missteps or misreads, but he seriously cut down on those mistakes. Playing fast is absolutely critical when you aren't an elite athlete, but Calvert's athleticism pushes his ceiling beyond most of our highly regarded LB recruits over the last few years. How many ILBs also play WR? LB/RB is pretty common at a few of the smaller schools, but to be a LB with the breakaway athleticism to play WR at Oaks Christian is almost unheard of. I see shades of Bru McCoy in how his athletic traits help him shift seamlessly between positions.

Calvert is a prototypical modern anti-spread ILB with the speed to run sideline to sideline, comfort moving laterally in space, and yet still big/physical enough to attack downhill in the run game. He carries 230 lbs really well with some space on his frame to carry a few more lbs if necessary. Personally, I don't really think Calvert will need to do much bulking before he can compete for playing time. He has already shown that he has solid block shedding functional strength against decent HS OL. In our scheme he shouldn't be facing many second level OL blocks, so I'd be okay with him playing at his current weight against better competition. One area that I would like to see a bit more consistent technique is in his tackling. He needs to refine his wrap-up/drive-through tackling where you put the "eyes through the thighs". Too often he is trying to throw people to the ground or lay a hard hit, but in college, RBs that can square up and run through contact will feast on him if he uses that technique in the open field.

A pairing of Simon and Calvert would be absolutely killer in a modern anti-spread defense. He is definitely a guy that I'd take a commitment from and figure out the roster situation later.

Josh Calvert's younger brother might be the better athlete of the two. He's a big, fluid, naturally athletic LB, and he was deployed everywhere from safety to wide OLB to MIKE in his HS defense, which suggest abilities in space. While he is definitely a LB at the college level, these early coverage reps should help him develop the necessary coverage skills to patrol the underneath zones down the line. As for his core LB skills, based on his early sophomore tape, Calvert is both a sound tackler as well as a natural-hitter. He also has a high motor and solid pursuit skills are all fundamental skills that you like to see in a future college LB. While he is a great talent, and I wouldn't categorize him as a pure downhill or "athlete at LB", I would like to see him get a little better at reading what he sees in front of him rather than relying on his athletic advantage to compensate for late reactions. Granted, not all of the plays where he chased down ball carriers were because he blew his assignment (many were clean up plays for others), but I see enough talent there for him to make a bigger impact behind the LOS or put him in position to make more plays on the ball in the air.

He would be a nice fit as an ILB in our scheme where he'd bring prototypical size with above average athleticism and hopefully above average coverage ability for an LB. He is already in the 230 lb range with the potential to keep growing into more of an OLB, as well as a comfort attacking the LOS from all angles, but I see ILB written all over his tape due to his well-rounded talent and versatility.

Kingsley Sumataia (OT, 6'5" 280, Orem HS, UT)

Sumataia is a big bodied OL with long arms and frame that he could very well end up being a future bookend OT opposite of Roger Rosengarten. He is a fairly lean 280 lbs right now that wouldn't need to cut too much weight in order to get up to a comfortable ~325 lbs if asked to do so at the college level. Since my last breakdown of him when he was a sophomore, he has taken huge strides in his footwork and agility while simultaneously flipping from RT to LT. He looked somewhat stiff and had herky jerky footwork in pass protection while playing up right and with a narrow base in the run game. While his natural athleticism and strength stood out, it took that extra year of drilling his technique to really have all the parts seem to click. He also seems to have done a good job refining his hand usage and length in his pass protection. He doesn't rush his contact when taking his pass set, and he seems to be more comfortable in sitting back with a strong base and proper positioning. While it is a small sample size (he only has 1 game of junior film up right now), he looks like he really capitalized on his off season and has begun to master his fundamentals.

With Coach Malloe as his primary recruiter and some mutual interest, I think we have a good shot in landing a future stud OT. Another recruiting advantage we might have is his cousin Miki Ah You, who seems to be in his ear as well.

Kuao Peihopa (DT, 6'3" 285, Kamehameha, HI)

(UPDATE 2/11): Coming back to watch Peihopa's tape was refreshing. Not only have I seen this kid's progression from his middle school days, but I also love seeing how his hard work is paying off, especially after a somewhat circuitous journey. As you can see from my previous breakdown below, I first knew of Peihopa as a DL as he was coming up through the intermediate and JV football programs at Kamehameha (Malloe's alma mater). Over 3 years, his teams would play my HS's teams 2-3 times a year in our league, so I got to see a lot of live reps. In those days he relied on his physical talents to win, although not as frequently as he should've. After spending a year at OL as a sophomore, Peihopa was a full-time starter playing both ways, and something about getting back to DL clicked for him this year. Not only did he slim down ~20 lbs to 285, which has helped his first-step burst tremendously, but he has also refined his overall game. While somewhat underrated, hand fighting technique is critical for DTs, and it is evident to me that the mix of angles, leverage, and hand techniques are finally coming together where he is consistently playing up to his potential.

While I had initially thought we may have been recruiting him as an iOL, it sounds like we are offering him as a DT. I think that the progress that he has made at DL far outpaced his progression at OL, where he was permanently shifted inside after playing his sophomore campaign at LT. With his upside being so much higher at DL, I think Peihopa could be a diamond in the rough that Malloe may have an inside track for landing his commitment.

Peihopa is one of those big body "man-children" that was always big growing up. I've watched him come through the middle school and JV ranks at Kamehameha when they would play 2 games annually against my old HS. He was probably 6-2 230 lbs by 8th grade, and he was actually a DL/TE up until his sophomore year. He has since flipped over to LT/LG for Kamehameha and filled out to a large, yet surprisingly nimble 6-3 280-285 lbs while still anchoring the defense as a two-way OL/DL. Through two games this season, Peihopa has put together solid, if somewhat unspectacular tape. While these performances were understandable given that the two opponents were powerhouses Punahou and Kahuku, Peihopa looked like he was consistently a second late on a play or tried too hard to "out-athlete" his opponent. Too often Peihopa's "highlight plays" were him simply throwing smaller opponents or just playing through the whistle, like all OL should. His technique at OL is very rough, as expected for such a recent DL convert, but I can see the athletic upside. As is common for many of these juniors, Peihopa is still listed at his sophomore weight of 306 lbs on most national sites, which looked a bit doughy, but he has since trimmed down to the 280s and looks quite lean in the 280s with room for more muscle.

From a projection standpoint, I can see Peihopa being somewhat like Victor Curne was a couple years ago in the sense that he could be a solid developmental iOL with big upside as an athletic and mauling OG, but he might need a couple of years to develop physically or technically. However, also like Curne, he won't be expected to become an immediate contributor. If we take 1-2 iOL in 2021, Peihopa could be the developmental prospect that can sit behind our deep iOL group from 2018-2020. This is a fairly early offer for a kid that will be a project, but it could be the case that the staff has insider info from Peihopa's HS staff. Kamehameha happens to be Coach Malloe's alma mater, and it wouldn't surprise me if we decided to be jump on early info while still slow playing the recruitment a little over the next 12 months.

Owen Prentice (iOL, 6'3" 285, O'Dea, WA)

(UPDATE 2/11): After reading through my 2019 preseason notes and comparing them to his junior tape, I like the progress that Prentice has made. While it's sometimes hard to judge OL due to the limited number of reps that kids deem worthy of putting on the internet, there are definitely a few traits that stood out to me as positive signs of his continued development. Prentice continues to show active and quick feet while paired with really solid functional strength. While 285 isn't remotely small, it is on the lightest end of the spectrum of collegiate OL playing weights. I still stand firm in my original estimate that Prentice could play around 300-310 in college, but I am beginning to think that he is one of those kids that have the genes for the core functional strength that exceeds expectations given their size. That also bodes well for him since maintaining his current agility is important. On tape, Prentice shows that he can consistently fire into the second level and make blocks on LBs in space, which is harder to do than some realize. Prentice is also a solid pulling guard, which is a common trait of many of our current starting OL. It is indicative of well rounded athleticism, and the foot work and understanding of spatial relationships when making such a block in space often translates well to pass protection.

I expect that we will bring in at least 2 or 3 OL, and Prentice should definitely be near the top of our board for iOLs (especially with the possibility of us losing both OGs).

A local prospect out of O'Dea, Prentice has solid film as an iOL with good power and footwork in the run game. He hasn't shown much pass protection in his film, but he seems to have the potential to be a good pass blocker if he gets more reps in passing situations. He has a decent build for an interior lineman at 6-3 285 lbs, but I'm not sure how much more weight his frame can comfortably hold. If I were to guess, he'd probably slim out and add some muscle mass by the time he sees a collegiate field, and he would probably play in the 300-310 lb range. Interestingly enough, between his sophomore and junior years, it looks like Prentice did just that, adding about 10 lbs but leaning out a little overall. He was already a good athlete for his size, but I think I can see some of his physical development helping him through slightly quicker feet. While that may be the case, I would like to see him work on getting better flexibility and maintaining better pad level in his run blocking. He seems to be a little reliant on his athletic advantages to beat defenders, so it is tempting for him to not focus as hard on his technique.

Wynden Ho'ohuli (ILB/OLB, 6'3" 200, Mililani HS, HI)

(UPDATE 2/11): After a strong junior season that featured a strength of schedule that is absolutely staggering for a Hawaii HS team, Ho'ohuli has earned himself a scholarship offer. Over the course of the season, Ho'ohuli's Mililani team played 5 teams in MaxPrep's Top 100 Computer rankings, including St. John Bosco, St. Louis, Punahou, Liberty, and Kahuku, teams most of us may recognize. Considering that this was his first season as a full time starter in a brand new defense, I was rather impressed.

As I had noticed earlier in my last update, Ho'ohuli flourished in a pressure-heavy scheme that consistently has him playing downhill in attack mode. He has a great feel for attacking gaps and wreaking havoc in the backfield both as an edge rusher and as an interior rusher, but his complete junior year tape now shows a lot more usage as a situational safety. I was really surprised by how extensive his usage was in this package against teams that I know are pass-heavy because I had thought he was a real x-factor in the pass rush. However, Ho'ohuli showed good production as a coverage safety through solid processing and ball hawking from a deep safety alignment. I would still consider his performance in that safety role as a product of his good athleticism and simplified responsibilities rather than true DB skills since he was was playing a quasi-robber role that didn't have to cover a specific receiver, but it does show that he understands how to break on routes which is something he will likely do in zone coverage as a ILB. Versatility is definitely something that I have added to my film notes on him after this season

As for his athletic profile, his relatively slight frame will be something that needs development in college. His physical, big-hitter style of play has kept me confident in his LB projection despite currently being safety-sized. However, physicality isn't a direct translation to functional strength, and Ho'ohuli's game in the box is built more on his quick first step and instincts than strength at this point. As far as his broader game speed, he plays significantly faster than his last recorded 4.96 second 40 would suggest, but I want to see him commit to adding muscle and play effectively at that bigger size. He could probably play in college at his previously listed 230 lbs, but since his measurable size/speed combination is suspect right now, how he carries added weight will be important.

Ho’ohuli played sparingly as a sophomore at powerhouse St. Louis HS, and I haven’t heard much buzz about him before he started making waves on the 2018-2019 camp circuit. He’s a physically gifted athlete, and despite having much tape before this year, he is a top 3 recruit out of HI and top 10 ILB nationally. From what I’ve heard through the grapevine, Ho’ohuli wasn't as instinctive or have as high football IQ as Botelho or Herbig did as sophomores. However, Ho'ohuli has since transferred to Mililani HS, another powerhouse program that Asa Turner's brother starred at and where UCF QB McKenzie Milton set Hawaii state HS records.

So far, his early junior film looks really promising through two games, including one against Kahuku HS. Having finally secured a starting role, Ho'ohuli is finally flashing some of the talent that launched him up HI's HS recruiting ranks. He plays primarily as a WILL LB for his team, both on and off the LOS, although he also plays ILB and even some SS depending on the personnel package. His pressure heavy scheme regularly asks him to attack downhill off of the edge, and he shows good burst and backside pursuit speed. His instincts in traffic seem pretty solid considering his lack of starting experience, and he seems to thrive in the frenetic chaos that his scheme creates, as shown by his 2 sacks, 2 INTs, and 1 FF in two games against strong opponents. Stylistically, I see him being a more downhill-version of Miki Ah You. A lankier built, athletic LB who probably projects as an ILB, but he maybe hasn't gotten much experience in the types of roles we may ask him to play.

Contrary to many recruiting sites, Ho’ohuli is listed by more recent local sources at 6-2 200 lbs and not 6-3 230 lbs. While that is still LB size, he isn't the athletic freak that many national sites hype him as. Additionally, he lacks some of the higher end functional strength that would allow him to stick closer to the LOS and capitalize on his experience there. I worry that he is getting by purely on his athleticism and scheme right now, and while I could see him develop into an Dime Backer for us, especially with our relatively limited LB depth, I'm guessing the staff would need to see more tape on him in a variety of non-blitz roles.

Junior Alexander (WR, 6'2" 170, Kennedy Catholic, WA)

(NEW 2/11): Alexander is another one of Huard's WRs at Kennedy Catholic. I've already profiled Tinae, but Alexander is the one holding an offer at the moment. My take is that Alexander is a solid, well-rounded prospect despite being our lowest ranked WR target with an offer. He is generally listed at 6-2 170 across most of the recruiting sites, although this hasn't changed since his sophomore tape. His hudl lists him at 6-4 190 these days, and while he doesn't look like he's 6-4, there is a decent chance that he has grown since 10th grade and has the potential to keep growing.

Unless the newer measurements are correct, Alexander is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades WR that has a varied skill set and alignment usage that helps to separate himself without particularly special physical attributes. If I'd compare him to a current UW WR I'd say his tape reminds me a little of Taj Davis's HS film. He has solid speed, good hands, pretty quick feet, and an understanding of how to get open. Davis may have had a little more speed and slightly less refined WR techniques, but some of that comparison is based on their lack of a single standout physical trait. Instead, I can see that he has a pretty clear understanding of the defenses that he is facing based on how he runs his routes.

He understands when to exploit leverages with head fakes and footwork versus when to run to space. Alexander was regularly asked to attack deep coverages, and he regularly won with his route running because he doesn't have the speed to run away from DBs who are playing with a cushion. While this usually resulted in slants, posts and other in-breaking routes, Alexander did show a number of sideline catches that showed his comfort with a fairly diverse route tree. The amount of concentration necessary to make those sideline catches was also evident in his ability to make contested catches. Strong hands in those situations can help allow him to maximize a decent catch radius, and it should help him transition to a more physical style of play at the P5 level. Speaking of physicality, I really enjoyed seeing Alexander put effort into his downfield blocking. He was a little chippy, but I'll take that edginess 10/10 times because it is impossible to light a fire under a player that doesn't have that already ingrained in his personality.

I wouldn't over look Alexander's place in this WR class. While we probably won't take more than 3 WRs, and we clearly have bigger names on our board, I think that he could be a valuable addition to our room in ways that aren't always obvious in measurables.

TJ Bollers (DE, 6'3" 241, Clear Creek Amana, IA)

(NEW 2/11): We really went off the beaten path out to Iowa to find TJ Bollers, but for a kid that's a 4* recruit and the #8 WDE according to 247, I was a little underwhelmed. He checks many of the basic boxes that you have for a pass rushing OLB or developmental 4-3 DE, but he doesn't wow me in the areas that separate great football players from promising athletes. He is clearly a gifted athlete given his multi-sport and multi-positional background, but he just didn't jump off the screen as a physical specimen or skilled technician.

Breaking down most of Bollers's highlights, I noticed that the impact plays he contributed to on defense were chase down plays or plays where ball carriers/QBs out ran their blocking on the perimeter. Bollers was consistently making the plays that he should be making given what looks to be inferior competition. There were a handful of plays where he effectively used a hand swipe or swim move, but he usually was able to beat up on inferior athletes with his decent length for HS and a good first step. He basically just looked like a "big fish, small pond" type of athlete to me, which I may be wrong about. He posted a 33 inch vertical at one of the St. Louis The Opening combine, which validates his quick first step, but his short shuttle and 4.97 second 40 give me cause for concern based on a projection to OLB at UW.

Expanding on his college position projection, my lack of enthusiasm about Bollers is my unclear natural fit. He doesn't play with great functional power or have the frame that would warrant spending significant resources recruiting and developing him as a true DL, and he doesn't seem to have the athleticism to be a natural fit at our rush OLB spots. Bollers has also only played on the DL, and I haven't seen any tape wher ehe was asked to play any coverage, so that'd require a very significant amount of development if he were to be projected there. We are also stacked at OLB, so he'll definitely be sitting for a few years behind some stud athletes. Either position that he ends up at, I wouldn't see him playing for at least 2 years, if not 3. If we are targeting him as a depth maintenance recruit with upside, then I would've imagined that we could've found a similar athlete closer to home that may take fewer resources to reel in or who may have better upside. I'll be interested in hearing more about the coaches' thoughts on Bollers.

Logan Fano (OLB/DE, 6'4" 220, Timpview HS, UT)

(NEW 2/11): Now this is a kid that might be a perfect example of a pure upside diamond in the rough that also has a clear projection and is a system fit for us. Unlike Bollers, who is a tweener that has mismatched skills and athletic traits, Fano is a tweener that is skilled in exactly the things that we want to see in our OLB/DEs. He has smooth athleticism in space, a good size/speed combination, and a solid understanding of techniques. At 6-4 220 lbs, Fano has a solid frame that could probably handle an additional 20-30 LBs fairly easily, and I expect some added weight between his junior and senior seasons. If he gets into the 230s, I would project him to be able to provide immediate depth assistance (not that we need it at OLB), and he would've pushed for some early reps if we didn't already have so many solid OLBs.

Anyways, going back to why he has a skill set and playing style that translates so well to our scheme. Fano has experience playing both on and off the LOS as a hand-down DE, an on the edge OLB, and as an off-ball OLB who covered TEs and the flats. This multi-alignment experience will be helpful since it is similar to how we utilize our OLBs depending on the situation. Not only does his varied alignments help, but his responsibilities in those alignments are similar to our OLB usage. He is skilled at setting the edge and stacking/shedding blockers to make the play on the edge. He made good use of an off arm-drop hip technique that some DTs use to anchor against blocks from bigger players, and he was also skilled at knifing through combo blocks and interior gaps when he was asked to. As far as his coverage skills, he made tackles in space against RBs and slot players on several occasions, which is a good sign that he can be a good fit in a few of the zone blitz packages that we've used in the past, and that he has the natural athleticism to play in space.

However, his most translatable skills may be as a pass rusher. Not only does he have a good first step and bend around the edge, but Fano was also VERY active in batting balls at the LOS. His long arms and wide reach frequently allowed him to be disruptive in the passing game, even when he knew he wasn't going to be able to get pressure from his wider alignments. This isn't a very easy skill/instinct to develop, but it will likely serve as a means of production/contribution until he develops better hand techniques. It is also a skill that has good synergy with how we utilize our OLBs in gap protection. It was often speculated that Benning Potoa'e wasn't able to contribute as effectively in the pass defense when he was at OLB because of his contain & edge setting responsibilities. Fano being able to play the ball and passing lanes allows him to affect the passing game without actually needing to abandon gap/edge responsibilities that are more commonly becoming conflict points with RPOs.

Now that Fano has decommitted from BYU, I really hope we can reel him in.

Other Names to Keep an Eye On:

Jabez Tinae (WR, 6'1" 187, Kennedy Catholic, WA)

One of Huard's WRs at Kennedy Catholic, Tinae mans the slot almost exclusively, and almost exclusively runs deep routes from that position. He has good straight line speed, and he understands how to use subtle route running techniques to get open, but doesn't have a developed short-intermediate route tree yet. It doesn't sound like we have offered him yet, but he might be a potential tier 2 or 3 prospect for us depending on how he develops his game.

Loghan "Kobe" Muasau (QB, 6'1" 205, Eastside Catholic, WA)

(NEW 2/11): Muasau was a rising junior transfer to EC this past year from Punahou School in Hawaii, and I have known him since he flashed potential as a freshman. I first heard about him from one of my old teammates who happens to be his relative. He is a really good kid with a strong work ethic, and he has a natural leadership quality about him. Considering that he only moved up to WA over the summer, it is impressive how fast he captured the starting gig and built his rapport with the team.

As a QB prospect, Muasau is a pretty solid passer with less than ideal stature, although he is comparable to Dylan Morris. He has a decent arm that relies on touch and timing beyond 20 yards downfield, although he has enough zip in the short-intermediate game to be a competent D1 QB. He is functionally athletic enough to be consistently used in moving pocket concepts and the occasional QB draw, but I wouldn't consider him any more athletic than Garbers. His footwork, mechanics, and pocket awareness are pretty solid, and he throws an accurate and catchable ball, but he struggles when facing pressure up the middle (as most QBs do). EC's worst game came in the post-season against Marietta (GA) when they got curb stomped by a superior roster. While Muasau did not have his best game by any stretch, I firmly believe that there were bright spots. After watching the game a couple of times with some of my buddies who have close ties to him from his days at Punahou, we all concluded that EC lost the game on the LOS, and Muasau did as much as he could given the circumstances. As soon as they went to heavier protection schemes, Muasau settled into his groove and delivered accurate timing passes in rhythm and got to show off his arm talent. In short, he reverted back to being a "point guard" game manager that can execute the system.

Why do I bring all this up over a guy who UW doesn't seem to have much interest in given that we have a 5* QB already in tow? Well for all of you guys that have been fretting about the depth situation at QB after we failed to make any splashes on the transfer market, Muasau may be an ideal depth PWO at QB next year. He could be QB #5 on our roster with little risk of transferring, which is important given the likelihood of one of our current QBs transferring in the next 24 months if one of our talented underclassmen leapfrogs someone on the depth chart. Muasau would be a strong culture add to our PWO program and he has an affinity for the program. He was actually one of the kids that I had talked to previously when I was writing about how UW’s building a strong reputation in Hawaii a couple of years ago (his dream school was UW). Offering him as a PWO would deepen our commitment to local talent, and would probably snag us a good depth QB who I believe has D1 talent. While Muasau might not be in the picture for UW’s recruiting board, it would be wise to keep an eye on him as a contingency plan.