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Washington targeting emerging Texas edge rusher Rylan Kennedy to round out 2023 class

DerekJohnsonDerekJohnson Administrator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 49,884
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By Christian Caple

SEATTLE — Rylan Kennedy will likely remember Sunday, Nov. 6 for a long while.

An edge rusher at Mansfield (Texas) Lake Ridge who didn’t play high school football until his senior season, Kennedy nevertheless cuts an intriguing athletic profile. He stands at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. He plays basketball and is a 6-foot, 6-inch high jumper, with a personal best of 20 feet, 9.75 inches in the long jump; he wants to jump 6-10 as a senior this spring, noting the school record is 6-11. And despite not playing football since eighth grade, Kennedy posted 61 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and five sacks as a senior this fall.

His recruitment, though, had been quiet. Missouri Southern, a Division II school, had offered in September, but that was it — until, that is, three staffers from California followed him on Twitter less than two weeks ago. Later that day, he was on a Zoom call with outside linebackers coach Vic So’oto, who extended Kennedy his first Power 5 scholarship offer.

The day wasn’t over before Courtney Morgan, Washington’s director of player personnel, added an offer from the Huskies to Kennedy’s list. In the days since, Kennedy also has reported offers from USC, San Diego State and Auburn. Before Cal reached out, Kennedy said he had sent film to schools with no response.

During an interview last week — at which point Cal and UW were his only FBS offers — Kennedy said he knew little about the Huskies before they reached out, but that, “They were telling me about how they liked my film and stuff, loved that I’m explosive, and could really see me at their school. They also explained how they wanted me to come down there, saying the campus was nice and all that.”

He isn’t sure yet which visits he’ll take, but Kennedy said he does want to sign during the early December period.

Kennedy grew up playing football but stepped away from the game after eighth grade. He had broken his arm and hadn’t played for a while, “And I just lost it, and didn’t want to play anymore, which I kind of regretted.” He focused more on basketball, but his friends talked him into returning to football as a senior. At the time, Kennedy didn’t necessarily think he was chasing a college scholarship. But his production instilled belief.

“I’m just playing hard, working hard, tackling and stuff,” he said. “I’m finding out, ‘Oh, I’m tackling five-stars? I’m tackling Texas commits?’ So I was like, ‘I can definitely do this,’ if I’m going against the best of the best.”

As the Huskies put the finishing touches on their 2023 recruiting class before turning full attention to 2024 — and those efforts already are well underway — you probably shouldn’t expect many fireworks between now and the early signing period. With 18 prospects committed, Washington is nearly done with its class, considering the Huskies have only 11 scholarship seniors and also must keep spots open for potential additions from the transfer portal. Coach Kalen DeBoer said recently there is still room to add “one to three” high school prospects in the class, which currently ranks third in the Pac-12 and No. 28 nationally in the 247Sports Composite.

2023 prospects to watch

That’s what makes the offer to Kennedy interesting and should tell you something about the Huskies’ positional priorities as this class comes to a close. They’re certainly finished at quarterback, running back, offensive line, linebacker and likely the interior defensive line, though they do have an offer out to three-star prospect Tavake Tuikolovatu from Fontana (Calif.) Summit and to three-star Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral D-lineman Ashton Sanders. The Huskies have four defensive backs committed, including four-star prospects Curley Reed and Vincent Holmes, and are particularly high on Leroy Bryant, a three-star cornerback from Fairfield (Calif.) Angelo Rodriguez who also stars as a receiver and returner. He’ll play cornerback at UW, but Bryant leads Rodriguez with 58 catches for 837 yards and six touchdowns, in addition to three interceptions, including a pick-six.

The Huskies don’t have a tight end committed, and DeBoer has mentioned they still would take the right player at that position, but it doesn’t appear they are actively involved with any. That leaves two positions to watch as signing day approaches: edge rusher and receiver. The Huskies made a splash by landing four-star receiver Rashid Williams from Pittsburg (Calif.) High and also picked up an early commitment from three-star prospect Keith Reynolds out of Adelanto (Calif.) High. But the Huskies also are among the finalists for Taeshaun Lyons, a four-star receiver from Hayward (Calif.) Tennyson, and JeyQuan Smith, a three-star prospect from San Bernardino (Calif.) Cajon who has UW in his top three along with Oregon and Utah.

Either would provide a nice boost to the class. Lyons is fresh off a 47-catch, 1,007-yard, 10-touchdown senior season, and Smith ran a 10.63-second 100-meter dash as a junior last spring. He’s also run the 200 in 21.14 — faster than Rome Odunze’s top time as a high school junior, for example, and that was good enough for the Nevada state title.

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Comments

  • DerekJohnsonDerekJohnson Administrator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 49,884
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    Smith took an official visit to UW for the season opener against Kent State, and Lyons took his official visit during the big June weekend that yielded several commitments. Lyons tweeted Wednesday that he will make an unofficial visit to Seattle for Saturday’s game against Colorado. He released a top eight in October that included UW along with Notre Dame, Oregon, Utah, Arizona State, Michigan State, Penn State and Miami. The No. 263 overall prospect in the 2023 class, Lyons has taken only two official visits — to Washington and Notre Dame.

    With four-star prospect Anthony James from Wylie (Texas) East likely projected as an interior defensive lineman, the Huskies have only one commitment from a true edge rusher — Jacob Lane, a local three-star prospect. That explains the offer to Kennedy, who is among the relatively small number of players to monitor over the next few weeks.

    There was some thought that a strong season might help with a local prospect like four-star cornerback Caleb Presley from Seattle Rainier Beach, who has been committed to Oregon since early July. Presley attended UW’s Sept. 17 victory over Michigan State and wore a purple UW sweatshirt while standing on the sideline. There has been nothing to indicate, though, that he is a viable option for the Huskies at present.

    Looking ahead to 2024
    The Huskies have three prospects already committed for 2024: three-star edge rusher Jaxson Jones from Yuma (Ariz.) Catholic, three-star receiver Landon Bell from Henderson (Nev.) Liberty and EJ Caminong, a three-star quarterback from Seattle Garfield.

    Caminong is the second high school quarterback to commit to DeBoer at UW, with Lincoln Kienholz set to join the program after winning yet another state championship at Pierre (S.D.) T.F. Riggs. Caminong first met UW’s coaches at Garfield in February. Offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb came to Garfield to watch him work out in May, and the Huskies offered Caminong a scholarship the next day.

    It was his first offer. Washington State, Colorado and Oregon State have offered since, but Caminong gave a silent commitment to UW in early October before announcing on Oct. 26. He said that after a workout at UW in the summer, it started to sink in that, “They want me to be there. They’re really recruiting me heavy.” Coaches had asked him to commit about a month after they offered, he said.

    Caminong, the No. 435 overall prospect in 2024 per the 247Sports Composite, has been playing quarterback since he was 6 years old and got serious about training for a college future around eighth grade. He won Garfield’s starting quarterback job as a freshman during the delayed 2020 pandemic season, and has worked closely with local trainer Lavelle Durant — mentor to many of the state’s top QB prospects over the years — to refine what he believes is a dynamic skill set.

    Listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds, Caminong showed significant progress as a junior, and his season highlights show a variety of throws with zip and accuracy. He’s also mobile enough to buy time for himself and hurt defenses with his legs if they don’t account for it.

    “I feel like I’m a very versatile quarterback,” Caminong said. “I can do anything that’s asked of me. I can run the ball, I can throw the ball. I can play within the system. But also, I’m really physical, which I think is something that’s different. Quarterbacks nowadays are taught to avoid contact, but I really embrace it. The mental aspect of the game is something I’ve really grown and got better with.”

    He’s part of another talented in-state recruiting class, headlined by four-star running back Jason Brown from Seattle O’Dea, four-star offensive lineman Isendre “Papa” Ahfua (Caminong’s teammate at Garfield) and Brayden Platt, a national top-100 linebacker from Yelm. Other blue-chip prospects include cornerback Rahshawn Clark from Federal Way, tight end Hogan Hansen from Bellevue and safety Marquawn McCraney from Highline, coached by former UW running back Deontae Cooper.

    The Huskies have offered all of those prospects plus three-star running back Unterrio Latin-Henley from Washington High in Tacoma, three-star safety Kyan McDonald from O’Dea, three-star receiver Malachi Durant from Puyallup and three-star offensive lineman Fox Crader from Evergreen in Vancouver. Still, nearly half of UW’s 2024 offers — 49 of 100 — are to prospects in California, a crucial recruiting ground that produced 10 of the 18 players committed in UW’s 2023 class.
    whatshouldicareaboutHFNY
  • whatshouldicareaboutwhatshouldicareabout Member Posts: 10,463
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    Scholarship distribution by state for 2024 looks much better for our traditional footprint.

    2023 is CA (36%), TX (14%), AZ (6%), FL (5%) and WA (5%)

    2024 is CA (49%), WA (11%), AZ (10%), TX (7%), and IL (4%)
  • HFNYHFNY Member Posts: 3,836
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    I thought Isendre “Papa” Ahfua played for O'Dea?
    whatshouldicareabout
  • CFetters_Nacho_LoverCFetters_Nacho_Lover Moderator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 21,680
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