You see the high-level type every Friday at a high school football game — the athlete who does something on the field nobody else does.
So who are the top five athletes suiting up in Washington high school football?
Scorebook Live Washington consulted with five-star talent evaluator Brandon Huffman, who is the national recruiting editor for 247Sports.com. He has been watching in-state talent for nearly two decades.
Here is our list:
1. JAYLAHN (J.T.) TUIMOLOAU, Eastside Catholic
Defensive lineman, 6-4, 245, senior
Best athletic attribute: Explosiveness.
Why he is on this list: Easily one of the best big-man athletes in the country – and arguably the nation’s top player/recruit for the class of 2021. Over two-plus seasons, no offensive tackle – anywhere – has shown the ability to block him one-on-one (the same also happens in the basketball paint).
What Eastside Catholic coach Dominic Daste says: “He’s so good at turning speed into power … and anytime you are talking about somebody that size operating in a 10-yard space, not many can get from Point ‘A’ to Point ‘B’ as fast as him.”
Huffman assessment: “If he wanted to, he could be the best tight end in the country, even though it is not his best position. His footwork, for as big as he is, is incredible.”
2. EMEKA EGBUKA, Steilacoom
Wide receiver, 6-1, 190, junior
Best athletic attribute: Hand strength.
Why he is on this list: Well, for starters – he is the top-ranked “athlete” recruit in the nation for the class of 2021. And he has elite athleticism in all areas – speed, strength, instinct and technique. Egbuka is the complete package – and the likes of Alabama, Clemson and 30 other scholarship-offering FBS schools know it.
What Steilacoom coach Colby Davies says: “His ball skills separate him … and the amount of times I’ve seen him win 50-50 balls in the air is ridiculous.”
Huffman assessment: “He has incredible upper-body strength. He will throw you off with his hands (in press coverage) and run by you. When you push him, he pushes you back harder. … That speed and strength combination is so rare.”
3. GEE SCOTT JR., Eastside Catholic
Wide receiver, 6-3, 210, senior
Best athletic attribute: Core strength.
Why he is on this list: The five-star Ohio State commit has some of the best body control you will ever see for a pass catcher, and he produces one highlight-reel catch after another. He is the most physical receiver to come out of the state since Lakes High School’s Reggie Williams.
What Eastside Catholic coach Dominic Daste says: “He is a weight-room junkie – and a football junkie. I’ve had our security guard call me at 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night to ask if it was OK to turn the lights on for him. … If I looked like him, I’d never wear a shirt.”
Huffman assessment: “My early player (comparison) was Anquan Boldin … but now it is more Larry Fitzgerald because his body control and ability to come down with the ball is so impressive. … He is college-ready now. That is how physically ready he is.”
4. JOSH CONERLY, Rainier Beach
Offensive lineman, 6-6, 275, sophomore
Best athletic attributes: Footwork, hand skill.
Why he is on this list: Conerly might not have the cache as the other names on this list – but he has boundless potential. When this former standout youth-league running back starting growing, he changed positions – from tight end as a ninth grader to offensive lineman. Just received an SEC offer from Tennessee.
What Rainier Beach coach Corey Sampson says: “He can move. He can run. He is still young and has a lot of room to grow, but his upside is ridiculous. He is so agile that when we run lines … he is one of the fastest to do them. He will be a cornerstone for us over the next few years.”
Huffman assessment: “He is so technically sound for a guy who is also raw. He is a skills player, but he will also knock your head off. He plays with great speed and leverage.”
5. JULIEN SIMON, Lincoln
Athlete, 6-3, 205, junior
Best athletic attribute: Instinct.
Why he is on this list: One look at Simon’s beastly build, and you’d think he moved everyone out of the way by sheer power. But the Abes’ standout is far more savvy than that as an inside wide receiver, tailback or hybrid linebacker/safety.
What Lincoln coach Masaki Matsumoto says: “Julien is very intelligent, and knows the game plan, in and out. … He is not the fastest or strongest guy in the weight room, but on the field, he is a man among boys.”
Huffman assessment: “(The things I like) are his ability to play through contact, his strength and physicality.”