Having covered every single top recruit out of the Pacific NW the past 15 years I feel well qualified to give an opinion of which athletes are the best in each recruiting class. In many cases the guys we cover in the 9th and 10th-grade level move up and dominate early and as a result, gain offers early. Those guys are typically so big or so fast that the projection line they get put on has them labeled "legit D-1 Talent" and offers result.
Most of the best in each recruiting class, however, earn that distinction later on and many of the best actually develop their Senior season. With that in mind, one of my true gifts is to focus on rising athlete at the end of their Junior year as the Spring football season comes along. This is the inflection point where talented players start to become a 17 or 18 year old and we see legit muscle growth and development into a more collegiate frame. It is right at that time that myself and many other athletes I grew up around really became a better reflexion if themselves.
We all see these early verbal offers. Many of those are going to children who have not really proven anything yet and many of them will be injured or dropped out of school before they actually graduate. The NCAA has rules on when an athlete can truly be contacted and recruited and that starts after June 1st of their Junior season. So we look for many of the top athletes who become "impact players" in college during and after their Junior season.
Zion Faaopega is the poster child for the sort of guy I am talking about. He started showing promise at Murrieta Valley High School as a Sophomore. There is some nice moves and solid film there. The big defensive end / tight end moved to Washington his Junior year and posted even better footage his Junior season at Union High School in Camas (WA). There is a variety of plays all over the field that show he can move and is a real handful to block or tackle.
Now in his offseason, he is bigger. As his Junior season comes to an end Zion is 6'4" and 240 lbs and can really move posting 100 meter times in the 11's. Arms and legs are bigger, the motor now has an extra gear, and Faaopega is making a name for himself.
At May Madness in Seattle he jumped our list of top camp performers. Last week at the NW Best Showcase he was not to be stopped. At thsi juncture, it is clear he is getting some looks and I feel an offer is about to happen for him. Look for the Big Sky schools to want in on this Polynesian Power House- and he seems to be a guy that a school like Oregon State is smart enough to move on if he has a solid camp performance there in pads.
A few seasons back we covered another late riser in David Douglas star player Samson Ebukam. While many asked me why I had him so high and yet he was not offered by many schools, Samson went on to set records at EWU where his talent was on display. AT 6'3" and 240 lbs. Samson became one of the greatest rushers in Big Sky history and is now a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
Is Zion Faaopega next up? This proud, humble, and very respectful student athlete should be!We see him as of right now as perhaps the best Defensive End in the region and a guy who can go all the way. We wish him the best of luck moving ahead and here is an interview we had with him just a few days ago!
We see him as of right now as perhaps the best Defensive End in the region and a guy who can go all the way. We wish him the best of luck moving ahead and here is an interview we had with him just a few days ago!