LAKEWOOD — Benning Potoa’e, the Lakes High School standout defensive end considered the state’s top recruit, made a verbal commitment to play for the Huskies during a ceremony Thursday afternoon.
Potoa’e, who at 6 feet 4 and 265 pounds is rated as a four-star recruit by Scout.com, continues the Huskies’ success at keeping in-state recruits home. Potoa’e chose UW over UCLA and Oregon.
Washington coach Chris Petersen and defensive line coach Jeff Choate made a visit with Potoa’e and his family at Farrelli’s Pizza in Dupont on Wednesday night. It was there, over slices of pepperoni and sausage — Potoa’e favorite — that he told UW’s coaches he would play for the Huskies. Petersen, Potoa’e said, jumped out of his seat.
Earlier that day, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich had visited Lakes in a last-ditch effort to sway Potoa’e.
“UW, it’s home,” Potoa’e said. “It’s near the people I love and the people I grew up with. My family, they can come watch me. UW as a school, it’s amazing. … The football team, in my heart I feel like UW is coming up and soon to take off. So I want to be a part of that program and I know Coach Petersen is going to do all he can to get me where I need to be.”
UCLA coach Jim Mora also made a visit to see Potoa’e earlier in the week, and Potoa’e said early in his his recruiting process he figured he would end up signing with the Bruins.
His official visit to UW last weekend changed his mind.
Potoa’e, a Semper Fidelis All-American, is 23rd known recruit to commit to the Huskies for the Class of 2015 and the seventh from Washington. Of the top seven-ranked recruits in the state, six are committed to the Huskies.
Potoa’e is the younger brother of former UW defensive lineman Sione Potoa’e, and with all four of UW’s defensive linemen graduating, Potoa’e will get a chance to compete immediately for playing time in 2015.
“He just has a lot of qualities that you look for,” Lakes coach Dave Miller said. “He’s blessed with the physical tools not everyone has, but he also has the work ethic to go with it. He’s one of the hardest workers on our team. And he’s a team leader — he’s a two-time team captain. And he’s just a physical specimen. He benches 440 (pounds) and can run a 4.65 (40-yard dash).”
Potoa’e spent some time last summer working UW star defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha, whom Potoa’e called a role model.
“He’s taught me so much technique — and not just (things) about football,” Potoa’e said. “People know him not only for football but for who he is at heart, and that really inspired me.”
Like Kikaha, UW coaches told Potoa’e that he will play the Buck linebacker position for the Huskies.
“I see some real similarities in Benning and Hau’oli in terms of their physical stature and their explosiveness,” Miller said.
UW 2015 RECRUITING
Twenty-three recruits are known to have made verbal commitments to the Huskies. National signing day is Feb. 4.
QB — Jake Browning*, 6-2, 210, Folsom HS (Folsom, Calif.)
RB — Myles Gaskin, 5-9, 185, O’Dea HS
OL — Henry Roberts, 6-5, 270, Bellevue HS
OL — Trey Adams, 6-7, 270, Wenatchee HS
OL — Jared Hilbers, 6-7, 275, Beaverton HS (Beaverton, Ore.)
WR — Chico McClatcher, 5-9, 185, Federal Way HS
WR — Andre Baccellia, 5-11, 170, Westlake HS (Westlake Village, Calif.)
WR — Isaiah Renfro, 6-2, 185, Sierra Canyon School (Chatsworth, Calif.)
TE — Mike Neal, 6-4, 225, Etiwanda HS (Etiwanda, Calif.)
DL — Benning Potoa’e, 6-4, 265, Lakes HS (Lakewood)
DL — Ricky McCoy, Roosevelt HS (Fresno, Calif.)
DL — Myles Rice, 6-4, 225, George Bush HS (Richmond, Texas)
DL — Jason Scrempos, 6-6, 250, Milpitas HS (Milpitas, Calif.)
LB — Tevis Bartlett, 6-3, 215, Cheyenne (Cheyenne, Wyo.)
LB — Jusstis Warren, 6-3, 225, Lincoln HS (Tacoma)
LB — D.J. Beavers, 6-1, 205, Crespi Carmelite HS (Encino, Calif)
LB — Ben Burr-Kirven, 6-0, 200, Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton, Calif.)
LB — Kyler Manu, 6-1, 220, Highland HS (Pocatello, Idaho)
CB — Austin Joyner, 5-10, 186, Marysville-Pilchuck HS (Marysville)
CB — Jordan Miller, 6-1, 175, Oceanside HS (Oceanside, Calif.)
S — Ezekiel Turner*, 6-3, 200, Los Angeles Pierce College
S — Quinten Pounds, 6-1, 175, Cypress HS (Cypress, Calif.)
LS — A.J. Carty, 6-3, 250, Servite HS (Anaheim, Calif.)
*Have already started classes at UW.