Eagles sign seven in first-ever December signing period - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Eagles sign seven in first-ever December signing period

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

By Eastern Washington Athletics

It's a new time for signing players, but the Eastern Washington University football team went with the flow and took advantage.
Signing a collection of talent that includes a pair of All-State selections from the state of Washington, the Eagles signed seven high school players to national letters of intent on Wednesday (Dec. 20) to attend EWU and play for the school next fall.
The signees included a pair of All-State selections from Washington – defensive tackle Joshua Jerome out of Monroe and wide receiver Champ Grayson from Kamiakin. The Eagles also signed quarterback Simon Burkett from Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash., and a local product in offensive lineman Risone Ama out of Mt. Spokane HS.
"We're really excited about these players, and it's new because it's the inaugural year for this December signing period," said Eastern head coach Aaron Best. "We'll probably end up with half now, half later. The glass is half full, but we'll still be on the recruiting path in January to end up putting some more dots on I's and crosses on T's."
Best and his coaching staff signed a trio of offensive linemen and a pair on the defensive line as well. Eastern will complete its recruiting class on Feb. 7 when the normal signing period begins.
"We still have a few areas we'll address before the next signing day," said Best. "But we've covered a spectrum of positions thus far. It's very exciting."
The other high school players signed from the state of Washington included defensive end Corbin Hartsock from Olympia (Wash.) HS, and offensive lineman Charlie Baumann from Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash. Baumann's older brother, Conner Baumann, will be a senior for the Eagles in 2018 when Charlie arrives.
The lone out-of-state product was offensive lineman Brad Godwin from Redlands (Calif.) High School. Eastern also announced that Dean Sise will transfer from Navy to play for the Eagles as a rover on defense. Sise was an All-State selection as a senior in 2016 at Juanita High School in Kirkland, Wash. Sise signed a financial aid agreement and has been admitted and confirmed his attendance at EWU starting in winter quarter of 2018.
"What I like about this group of signees in December is the fact these players know they want to be Eagles," said Best. "So this opportunity allows them to sign early and work on school, work on their winter sports, work on being a son and work on being a brother, and not have to worry about any more communications or recruiting calls from other schools. Heading into their holiday break they can focus on the things they want to focus on. This opportunity allows them to get their signing out of the way when they know they already want to come here."
"I really didn't know what to think since last spring when this all came about. What I do know is that these individuals have been excited about it since summer or early fall – not just the last few weeks. Their excitement has led them to tell us they want to be a part of Eastern Football in December rather than wait until February. We love the fact they are allowed to make this official and tell the world where they are going prior to February."
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 10 starters on offense.
"We have 14 seniors, so it's not like we can sign 20-25 this year," said Best. "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. We'll sign a total of three or four players even though we didn't graduate anybody. 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. But we will have addressed every position by Feb. 7."
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.

Risone Ama OL 6-4 285 Spokane, Wash. / Mt. Spokane HS '18
Charlie Baumann OL 6-5 275 Bellevue, Wash. / Newport HS '18
Simon Burkett QB 6-3 185 Bellingham, Wash. / Meridian HS '18
Brad Godwin OL 6-6 265 Redlands, Calif. / Redlands HS '18
Champ Grayson WR 6-2 180 Kennewick, Wash. / Kamiakin HS '18
Corbin Hartsock DE 6-5 235 Olympia, Wash. / Olympia HS '18
Joshua Jerome DL 6-1 275 Monroe, Wash. / Monroe HS '18
***Dean Sise Rover 6-2 205 Kirkland, Wash. / Juanita HS '17 & Navy

***Transfer (signed a financial aid agreement and has been admitted and confirmed his attendance at EWU)

Risone Ama – OL – 6-4 – 285 – Spokane, Wash. / Mt. Spokane HS '18

Head Coach Aaron Best on Ama: "He's an offensive lineman, and some people think he can be a defensive lineman. He grew a ton from his junior to senior season. I think his best football ahead of him is on the offensive side, and when we saw him at our camp he displayed huge growth in a year. Because we are methodical in our recruiting, we are able to see the physical development of 16 and 17 year olds. We try to recruit Spokane players as much as we can to have a local flavor. He has great parents and all the goods and makings to be a great interior offensive lineman. We'll start him at guard and see which side he feels more comfortable. His Mt. Spokane Wildcats were perennial winners, and we're excited to have him onboard."
Will graduate from Mt. Spokane High School in 2018. He was rated by 247sports.com as a 2-star recruit and the No. 51 prospect in the state of Washington. Rivals.com rated him as a 2-star recruit. He was a three-time selection on All-Greater Spokane League teams while playing for the Wildcats.
As a senior, Ama was a first team All-3A Greater Spokane League selection as an offensive lineman. He helped lead Mt. Spokane to an 8-3 record and a berth in the State 3A Playoffs. The Wildcats lost 28-21 in the first round to eventual state runner-up Rainier Beach.
As a junior, Ama also earned first team All-GSL honors as an offensive lineman as Mt. Spokane finished 4-6. The Wildcats advanced to the State 3A Playoffs that season as well. In his sophomore season, he was honorable mention All-GSL, also as an offensive lineman. Mt. Spokane was 8-2, and lost a cross-over game to Kennewick at the end of the year that cost the Wildcats a state berth.
Coached at Mt. Spokane by former Eagle linebacker Terry Cloer (1994-95), who was given 3A GSL Coach of the Year honors in both 2015 and 2017. Ama also competed in track and field in high school.
Personal: Interested in majoring in business management at EWU. Born 6/4/2000 in Kennewick, Wash. Parents are Aifala and Jennipher Ama. Nickname is "Rizzo."

Charlie Baumann – OL - 6-5 – 275 - Bellevue, Wash. / Newport HS '18

Head Coach Aaron Best on Baumann: "We have been excited about Charlie since the days of recruiting his older brother Conner to campus a few years back. He will be a great addition to our interior offensive line at guard. He has aspirations of playing early in his career and he is gifted enough to do that following what will probably be a redshirt year. Charlie has a tough, in-your-face approach to his game, and that is what sets him apart from other offensive linemen we looked at. He's another multi-sport student athlete in high school. His success on the wrestling mat has allowed him to excel playing a style of play along the offensive line that we covet here at EWU. He's a great family person that also excels in the classroom."
Will graduate from Newport HS in 2018. He joins Eastern alongside his brother Conner, who will be a senior defensive end for the Eagles in the 2018 season. Charlie was a 2-star recruit as rated by 247sports.com, which also ranks him as the 46th best high school recruit in the state of Washington. 
As a senior in 2017, he was a first team All-KingCo 4A League selection as a defensive lineman and second team pick as an offensive lineman. He had 55 tackles and six sacks in helping Newport finish 5-5.
He also wrestles at Newport, and advance to the Mat Classic 4A Tournament as a junior. He won the 285-pound title at the KingCo 4A Championships.
Personal: His parents are Bradley and Tina Baumann. Conner's brother, Conner, enters his senior season at Eastern in 2018 with 54 career tackles and two sacks in 35 career games. He also played as a fullback during his redshirt freshman season in 2014-15.


Simon Burkett – QB – 6-3 – 185 – Bellingham, Wash. / Meridian HS '18

Head Coach Aaron Best on Burkett: "He's a dual-threat quarterback who can pass when needed and extend plays when needed. He's long, and will be good in our running game and our run-pass option schemes. He willed his team to the state championship game and played for legendary coach Bob Ames, so we're excited to see Simon in an Eagle uniform. He came to our quarterback camp, so we were able to see him up close and personal meet his family. He was elated to have Eastern as his landing spot after high school."
Will graduate from Meridian HS in 2018. He was rated by 247sports.com as a 3-star recruit and the No. 27 prospect in the state of Washington. Rivals.com rated him as a 2-star recruit. Burkett committed to Eastern in August of 2017 before finishing his high school career with 7,658 yards and 79 touchdowns passing, and 1,564 yards and 29 touchdowns rushing in 34 games played. He completed 56.9 percent of his passes (527-of-927) with 30 interceptions, and also caught four passes for 38 yards. His yardage total in his career was a league record. He served as a team captain as a senior, junior and sophomore.
As a senior, Burkett was the MVP of the 1A Northwest Conference. He passed for 3,868 yards (276.3 per game) and 45 TDs passing and had a team-high 623 yards and 12 scores on the ground. He completed 58.0 percent of his passes (235-of-405), breaking his own Whatcom County record for attempts and completions. He led Meridian to a 13-1 record overall, including a perfect 6-0 mark in the 1A Northwest Conference. The Trojans lost 33-27 in the State 1A championship game in the Tacoma Dome to top-ranked Royal, which won its third-straight title. Burkett's 10-yard touchdown run with 11:22 remaining tied the game at 27-27, but Royal had two sacks of Burkett in the final seven minutes. Burkett passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns, and added two more scores on the ground. At the Northwest 9 quarterback camp in Kirkland, Wash., in summer of 2017, Burkett had the third-best vertical jump mark (38-5), the fourth-best broad jump (9-1) and tied for fifth-best in the 3-cone shuttle (4.25 seconds).
As a junior team captain, he shared first team All-Northwest Conference 1A honors along with Montana State commit Casey Bauman from Nooksack Valley. Burkett led Meridian to a 7-7 record as the Trojans clinched a .500 season by winning a pair of games in the State 1A Playoffs. Meridian beat Kings 17-14 and Cascade Christian 34-21 before falling to Connell 56-21 in the quarterfinals. Burkett attempted a Whatcom County record 367 passes, completing 208 of them for a 56.7 percent completion rate. He finished with 2,623 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air, and had another 618 yards and 12 scores on the ground. As a defensive back, he finished the season with three interceptions and returned one for a TD.
He played in eight games as a sophomore team captain and completed 84-of-155 passes (54.2 percent) for 1,167 yards and 14 touchdowns, as well as 323 rushing yards with five TDs. He also had an interception on defense. The Trojans advanced to the State 1A Playoffs and finished 6-5.
He played for long-time Meridian coach Bob Ames, whose 320 career wins in 44 seasons (through 2017) trails former Tumwater coach Sid Otton (394) and O'Dea's Monte Kohler (324) for most wins in state history. Eastern All-Big Sky center Spencer Blackburn also played for Ames at Meridian and graduated in 2014.
Personal: Interested in majoring in engineering at EWU. Born 9/18/99 in Bellingham, Wash. Parents are Rob and Heidi Burkett. His grandfather, Mike Hopley, lettered for Eastern in basketball in 1972 and was formerly from Burlington, Wash.


Brad Godwin – OL – 6-6 – 265 - Redlands HS '18

Head Coach Aaron Best on Godwin: "The first thing that stood out on video was how well he moves for his size. He's athletic and long in terms of his arms and legs, and we will use him at one of the tackle positions. He plays through the whistle. He's very studious in regards to Eastern – he knows everything, and I mean everything, about our football program and school. He's going to be good, but it's up to him if he wants to be great. It's a matter of putting all the pieces together when he gets here on campus. We're very excited to sign him, and went a little further south than we normally do for an offensive lineman."
Will graduate from Redlands HS in 2018. He was rated by both Rivals.com and 247sports.com as a 2-star recruit.
As a senior, he earned first team All-Citrus Belt League honors as an offensive lineman, and was his team's offensive line MVP. He blocked for team that averaged 15.8 points and 306.3 yards of total offense per game, with averages of 172.2 passing yards and 134.1 rushing. He helped the Terriers finish 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the Citrus Belt League in his senior season.
In his junior season, he blocked for team that averaged 32.3 points and 412.2 yards of total offense, including 236.5 passing yards and 175.7 rushing yards.
Was coached at Redlands by Derrick Dial. Godwin was a two-year varsity starter in football and also competed for the track and field team.
Personal: Interested in majoring in political science at EWU. Born 5/31/2000 in Riverside, Calif. Parents are Brad Godwin III and Heather Carmody.

Champ Grayson – WR – 6-2 – 180 - Kennewick, Wash. / Kamiakin HS '18

Head Coach Aaron Best on Grayson: "We love his competitiveness and he's an energized individual. He easily dunks the basketball, so he easily goes up to get the football. When the ball is in the air, it's not a 50-50 ball to him. It's about a 90-10 ball and he'd argue that its 100 to zero --- it's his ball and nobody else's. He played for a state championship team as a junior and we're excited to get another Kamiakin Brave in the mix. We're excited about his potential for growth both inside and outside – we think he can be versatile on offense. He can run screens, run deep, run intermediate routes and run slants, and he's a big, physical player. He'll be similar to the long receivers we've had over the years who we have been very pleased with."
Will graduate from Kamiakin HS in 2018.
As a senior, he earned All-State honors as a wide receiver from the Tacoma News-Tribune, including schools from all classifications. He earned first team All-Mid-Columbia Conference honors as a wide receiver, defensive back and kick returner. In conference games only, he caught a league-leading 56 passes for 902 yards and nine touchdowns. He had a league-leading 319 punt return yards, averaging 8.6 yards on 37 returns. His 1,273 all-purpose yards were second in the league and his 11 total touchdowns were fourth. His totals on the season included 60 catches, 1,418 all-purpose yards, 14 touchdowns, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
As a junior, he helped Kamiakin to its first-ever State 3A title and the first for a high school in the city of Kennewick. The Braves beat O'Dea 14-7 in overtime to capture the first 3A title for a team east of the Cascade Mountains since 1999. Kamiakin lost only to 4A schools (Chiawana and Richland) during the league season, then won its first three playoff games by an average of more than 33 points per game prior to a 30-27 semifinal win over Eastside Catholic. Grayson averaged 12.0 yards on five punt returns during the league season, and played as a wide receiver and linebacker. He was also on the roster as a sophomore wide receiver/defensive back.
He was coached at Kamiakin by Scott Biglin. His former high school teammates Wyatt Musser and Darreon Moore graduated from Kamiakin in 2017 and redshirted for the Eagles that fall. Grayson also lettered in basketball at Kamiakin.
Personal: Undecided on a possible major at EWU. Born 8/14/99 in Kennewick, Wash. Parents are Dan and Tina Grayson. Dan was an All-America linebacker at Washington State and was a seventh-round draft choice by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1990 National Football League draft. He was also with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, and played in the Canadian Football League in 1992 for Saskatchewan. Champ's cousin, Garrett Grayson, currently plays as a backup quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons after he was with the New Orleans Saints in 2015. He played at Colorado State for former Eastern player and assistant coach Jim McElwain. Garrett passed for more than 10,000 yards at Heritage High School in Vancouver, Wash.

Corbin Hartsock – DE – 6-5 – 235 – Olympia, Wash. / Olympia HS '18

Head Coach Aaron Best on Hartsock: "We were excited enough about him as a junior that we felt he would make us better not only on the field but in the locker room. He is a great person and another one of the signees we have who are better people than they are players – and they are pretty good players. We'll start him on the defensive line and see where he goes from there. He was a very versatile player as a junior and we like what he looked like on video. He has length and flexibility, and still has room to grow physically. He's very driven having lost his senior year because of an injury, but he was basically an assistant coach for his teammates during the 2017 campaign. He's won a ton of games in his high school career, so we don't have to teach him how to win. He has great parents and we're excited to have him onboard."
Will graduate from Olympia HS in 2018. Committed to Eastern in August. He tore his ACL in June and missed the 2017 high school football season. He was rated by 247sports.com as the No. 58 prospect in the state of Washington.
As a junior, he was selected to the Olympian All-Area team as a first team tight end. He was a first team All-South Puget Sound League tight end and earned second team honors as a defensive lineman. He also was his team's defensive MVP. Hartsock had 15 catches for 264 yards and two touchdowns, and recorded 66 tackles (18 for losses) and nine sacks as a defensive end. He helped lead the Bears to a 7-3 record and the first round of the State 4A Playoffs where it lost to Skyview (38-27).
As a sophomore, Olympia was 7-3 in his sophomore season and 6-4 when he was a freshman. The Bears advanced to the playoffs both seasons. Hartsock's coach at Olympia was Steve Davis.
Personal: Interested in majoring in political science at EWU. Born 5/31/2000 in Olympia, Wash. Parents are Sean and DeNay Hartsock.

Joshua Jerome – DL – 6-1 – 275 – Monroe, Wash. / Monroe HS '18

Head Coach Aaron Best on Jerome: "He has a way about him that reminds me of an offensive lineman, but has a defensive mentality and plays great on the defensive line. Coach (Brian) Strandley has been interested in him for a couple of years it seems like, and every time we talk about defensive tackles they are compared to Joshua Jerome. He's not the tallest, sturdiest or best looking defensive tackle we've recruited, but I'd put him up there with the toughest defensive tackles we've recruited and played with. He played on both sides of the ball in high school, and he's one of those guys where you hate to play against him but you love to play next to him. He's going to wreak havoc on guards and centers throughout his career, and he's one of those EKG over-achiever – he plays bigger than his size indicates."
Will graduate from Monroe HS in 2018. He was rated by 247sports.com as a 2-star recruit and the No. 60 prospect in the state of Washington. Rivals.com also rated him as a 2-star recruit. Committed to Eastern in May of 2017. In his 36-game high school career, he had 192 total tackles with 18 1/2 sacks, six forced fumbles, six recoveries and three passes broken up. He was also credited with 36 pancake blocks as an offensive lineman in his final two years in the program. Monroe enjoyed its most success in school history in winning 33 games in four seasons, including 10 in 2017.
As a senior, he earned All-State honors as an offensive lineman from the Tacoma News-Tribune, including schools from all classifications. Jerome also earned All-Area honors from the Everett Herald as an offensive lineman for the second-straight year after earning first team All-Wesco 4A honors. He had 87 tackles as a senior with eight sacks, four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. On offense, he helped block for teammate Isaiah Lewis, who rushed for 2,134 yards as Monroe finished 10-2 overall and 6-1 in the 4A Wesco League. The Bearcats beat Puyallup 21-14 in the 4A State Playoffs before falling 56-14 to Sumner in the quarterfinals.

As a junior in 2016, Jerome earned All-Area honors from the Everett Herald as an offensive lineman for the second-straight year after earning first team All-Wesco 4A honors. He had 41 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. He had 28 pancake blocks as he paved the way for his older brother J.J. Jerome to rush for 2,050 yards. Monroe was 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the league, and also advanced to the quarterfinals of the 4A State Playoffs. His team beat Auburn-Riverside 48-28 before falling 58-42 to Sumner in the quarterfinals. Monroe was making its first appearance in the state playoffs in 20 years.
He also had 41 tackles as a sophomore with three sacks, and 23 tackles and a sack as a freshman. Monroe had records of 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the Wesco in 2015, and 7-4 and 5-2 in 2014. He was coached at Monroe by Michael Bumpas.
Personal: Interested in studies that will help him become a fire fighter after he leaves EWU. Born 11/9/1999 in Monroe, Wash., Calif. Parents are Gregg Jerome and Dana Davis. Is a first generation college student in his family.

Dean Sise – Rover - 6-2 – 205 - Kirkland, Wash. / Juanita HS '17 & Navy

Head Coach Aaron Best on Sise: "He felt it was time for a change early on in his career and we were fortunate to be his next decision. We'll start him out at rover, so he'll be out covering slot receivers and defending both the pass and the run. He won a ton of games in his high school career and we have been tracking him for a lot of years. He's a familiar face to us and we're excited to see where he will make us better. He's versatile player – he could play at safety, linebacker and rover, and contribute on special teams. Coach Jeff Schmedding has been talking about him for a long time. We couldn't be happier that he has the opportunity to come to Eastern and is making this his next destination. We don't look for a lot of transfers unless they fit a true need and fit into our locker room. We felt Dean was a no-brainer, and we tried to make this happen."
Sise joins Eastern as a transfer from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He has signed a financial aid agreement and has been admitted and confirmed his attendance at EWU, beginning in winter quarter of 2018. Recruiting by most Northwest colleges, he originally took recruiting visits to Hawai'i and Washington State before joining the Midshipmen. Coming out of high school, he was named by the Seattle Times as a "White Chip" selection as one of the top 100 prospects in the state of Washington. He was a 2-star recruit as rated by 247sports.com.
Sise played in four games – all victories -- as a true freshman in 2017 for Navy, which finished the year 6-6 and 4-4 in the American Athletic Conference. He had two tackles, one versus Cincinnati (9/23/17) and one in the team's next game versus Tulsa (9/30/17) when he suffered a concussion and missed the rest of the season.
Graduated from Juanita High School in 2017. As a senior in 2016, he earned All-State honors and was selected to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl and All-State Game. He earned All-KingCo Conference honors as a first team linebacker and second team wide receiver. He had 59 tackles as a senior with four interceptions, three forced fumbles and a pair of sacks. He also caught 40 passes for 503 yards and six touchdowns as a senior, with career totals of 62 for 779 yards and 10 scores.
The Rebels finished 9-3 overall and 5-1 in his junior season in 2015, beating Columbia River 57-7 in the first round of the State 3A Playoffs before bowing out in the quarterfinals. He was coached at Juanita by Lele Te'o.
He also was a three-time state qualifier in track and field, finishing tenth in the long jump and helping his school finish third in the 4x100 Relay in his sophomore season in 2015. He also advanced to the state meet in the long jump as a senior. He had bests of 21-6 1/4 in the long jump, 11.34 in the 100 and 23.20 in the 200.
Personal: Intends on majoring in communications at Eastern. Born 9/13/98 in Bellevue, Wash. His parents are Robert Sise and Joanna Levin. His father played soccer at Colorado.

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