SHELTON — Ralph Kinne walked into the Shelton High School auditorium Wednesday morning, and up onto the stage where his white Washington Huskies hat sat on the table. He couldn’t contain his excitement. His face was beaming as he slapped hands with the school’s other three NCAA Division I-bound athletes.
Kinne labeled it the best day of his young life.
“Second is my (official) visit,” he said.
The foursome – Kinne, David Ajamu, Jake Lindley and Jared Welander – were sharply dressed in black head to toe as the school held its signing day ceremony honoring what athletic director Jim Judson called a rarity at Shelton: four future Division I athletes in one class.
“We are ecstatic to have that opportunity,” Judson said. “It speaks to all the work that happens leading up to this day.”
Ajamu, a tight end, honored his commitment to the University of Washington’s football program by signing his national letter of intent. Kinne, his teammate and best friend, also is headed to UW as a preferred walk-on with a partial scholarship that will kick in at the start of camp, he said.
The school also recognized lineman Lindley, who will walk-on at national powerhouse Oregon, and Welander, the Highclimbers’ quarterback who will sign his letter of intent to play baseball at Washington State during April’s spring signing period.
The recruiting process started late for Ajamu, who attracted attention after tellar performances at camps and scouting combines last summer. He originally committed to Oregon State, the first Pacific-12 Conference school to offer him a scholarship. As his senior season progressed, the Huskies became more interested.
The thought of being an understudy to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, labeled as one of the top college tight ends in the country, is partly what lured the 6-foot-5 Ajamu to Washington.
“That used to be the tight end school,” Ajamu said. “It’s getting back to that with Austin there. I’ll be able to go there and learn from him and be able to hopefully do what he does and fill his shoes when he leaves.”
He’s the only tight end in the Huskies’ recruiting class, and one of 22 signees. He’s also Shelton’s first Division I signee in football since Caleb Schlauderaff, now an offensive guard with the New York Jets, signed with Utah in 2006.
After a record-setting senior season that include school marks for rushing yards in a season (2,389) and a single game (359), the 5-foot-10 Kinne said his recent official visit to Washington was “the best weekend of my life.” He said going alongside Ajamu is a big bonus, too.
“Going with him is another add on,” Kinne said. “We’re like brothers.”
TUMWATER’S BRYANT TO GREYSHIRT WITH HUSKIES; BROWN SIGNS FOR TRACK
Tumwater’s Jaimie Bryant will be taking a different path to UW football.
After giving a verbal commitment in April, he will greyshirt at UW, meaning he will enroll at the university in January 2014, which is when he will sign a letter of intent and his scholarship will be honored.
Bryant, the 2A Evergreen Conference’s defensive MVP who helped guide the T-Birds to the 2A state title game in December, said the UW coaching staff wants him to add 40 to 50 pounds to his current 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame.
On the defensive line last fall, he dropped 30 pounds. UW’s two defensive tackle signees for 2013 – Elijah Qualls and Andrew Basham – weigh 285 and 305 pounds, respectively.
“I need to mature (physically) a little more before I start playing,” said Bryant, who will enter a rigorous workout plan.
The decision to greyshirt came a few weeks ago after Bryant took his official visit to the Washington campus. Bryant said plans to take college courses at the UW-Tacoma campus or South Puget Sound Community College next fall and winter quarters.
Andrew Brown, Bryant’s Tumwater teammate, was both nervous and excited before he signed his UW track and field letter of intent.
“I’m finally committing to where I’ve wanted to go,” said Brown, the two-time defending 2A state champion in the 400 meters.
Brown, a running back and all-state football player for Tumwater, also had offers from various schools to play football, but he wanted to run track in the Pac-12. With the renovation of Husky Stadium, the longtimeg track is gone, and the newly constructed track near the stadium is all-purple.
“I see myself more doing track,” Brown said.
Kameron MinerCapitalbaseballEdmonds CC
Mat CoxCapitalfootballNorth Dakota
Ralph KinneSheltonfootballWashington ^
Jake LindleySheltonfootballOregon #
Jaimie BryantTumwaterfootballWashington %
Jacob SwilleyYelmfootballCentral Washington
Andy MillerCapitaltrack and fieldIndiana
Andrew BrownTumwatertrack and fieldWashington
Alyssa EdenstromCapitalwomen’s soccerPortland
McKenzie PhillipsCapitalwomen’s soccerSaint Martin’s
Olivia BrockOlympiawomen’s soccerConcordia (Portland)
Abbey BergquistTumwaterwomen’s soccerPortland State
Mariah O’NeilTumwaterwomen’s soccerSeattle U
^ — preferred walk-on
# — walk-on
% — will greyshirt and enroll in January 2014Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick