Eagles Sign 10 New Players
CHENEY, Wash. — What they started successfully in December, the Eagles capped with a bang in February.
Adding a group of players that includes three more All-State selections from the state of Washington, the Eastern Washington University football program signed eight high school players to national letters of intent on Feb. 7 to attend EWU and play for the school next fall.
The Eagles also announced a pair of players who have been admitted and confirmed attendance at EWU, plus the Eagles had already announced seven signees and a transfer in the new early signing period in December. The signing class overall is ranked No. 1 in the Big Sky Conference by 247sports.com, and in the top 10 in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (#138 overall among all college football programs).
“Time will tell,” said Eastern head Aaron Best . “It’s a tribute to our staff for bringing in what on paper is the best Big Sky class in 2018, but hopefully we can marry that up with the league’s best football team in the future. That would be the cherry on top. But there is a lot of work that goes into signing a class of players each year. A lot of the credit goes to (recruiting coordinator) Cherokee Valeria for what he’s put forth and challenged our coaching staff to do.”
The newest list of additions features Sumner (Wash.) High School’s Tre Weed , but also includes a trio of single season 2,000-yard rushers (one of them with 3,000+), and a bevy of former high school teammates. Of the 18 new additions the Eagles have now announced from the December and February signing periods, 16 of them are from the state of Washington.
“Washington was again a great destination for us to find the majority of our class in 2018,” said Best. “It’s just how it played out this year, but it could be different next year. But we’re going to enjoy this class, and we’ve worked on them for the better part of a year and some of them it seems like 1 1/2 and 2 years. We’re proud and honored to welcome the entire class to this campus, to this university and to this team.”
Weed was signed as a safety, although he was also a talented receiver and returner the past three seasons for Sumner. He earned All-State honors as an all-purpose player, is a three-star recruit and is considered by the Seattle Times as a “Red Chip” selection as one of the top 16 prospects in the State. He finished his career with nearly 6,000 all-purpose yards to go along with 83 total touchdowns and 19 interceptions – plus wins in 33 of the team’s 38 games.
“He’s very talented, especially when the ball is in his hands,” said Best. “On defense we’ll want the ball in his hands as many times as we can with interceptions and fumble recoveries. He’s very dynamic, and had multiple FBS offers. But he felt this would be his home away from home after high school. He’s an important piece of the puzzle, especially from a defensive standpoint, but what a great all-around athlete he is.”
Of the trio of running backs the Eagles added, Tiquan Gilmore from Torres High School in California had 3,266 rushing yards as a junior, and more than 6,000 yards and 75 touchdowns in two seasons. In-state products Micah Smith from Graham-Kapowsin HS and Isaiah Lewis from Monroe HS each had single season rushing performances of better than 2,000 yards.
Eastern signed a trio of players from the Rainier Beach High School team which finished as the State 3A runner-up in 2017. One of them — wide receiver Anthony Stell Jr. – was All-State in 2017, as well as Weed and Lewis. A total of 14 players earned recognition from the Seattle Times on its list of the top 100 recruits in the State of Washington.
Two other sets of teammates are joining the Eagles, as well as one other signee who follows in the footsteps of a current Eagle.
The Eagles will have a large group of juniors on its 2018 team, but had only 14 seniors in 2017. The Eagle defense will return eight starters, including letter winners at two other positions with considerable starting experience. Eastern will return nine starters on offense.
“We have 14 seniors, so it’s not like we can sign 20-25 this year,” said Best back in December. “Our two main areas of focus in recruiting this year were offensive line and cornerback. We are going to lose five offensive lineman after the 2018 season, so we want to be ahead of the curve instead of behind it. At cornerback, we’ve lost at least one, and we’ll lose three more this next year. Those are situations we have to look far in advance to see where we are going to have to plug and play.”
Eastern closed the 2017 season 7-4 overall and in a tie for third in the Big Sky Conference with a 6-2 record. It’s the 11th-straight season the Eagles have finished 5-3 or better in the Big Sky. The Eagles also secured its record 11th-straight winning season and 20th in the last 22 years.
Vancouver, Wash. / Union HS ’18
Los Angeles, Calif. / Torres HS ’18
Seattle, Wash. / Archbishop Murphy HS ’18
Seattle, Wash. / Rainier Beach HS ’18
Spanaway, Wash. / Graham-Kapowsin HS ’18
South Seattle, Wash. / Rainier Beach HS ’18
Anthony Stell Jr.
Seattle Wash. / Rainier Beach HS ’18
Sumner, Wash. / Sumner HS ’18
Vancouver, Wash. / Union HS ’18
Monroe, Wash. / Monroe HS ’18