Kyle Olson-Urbon was up well before daylight, prepared not to waste much of Signing Day.
Right before 8 a.m. Wednesday, he faxed in his national letter of intent from Gig Harbor High School to play football at Eastern Washington University.
It was a stark contrast to how his recruiting went. It came down to the wire for the Tides’ talented wide receiver.
When an opening came up in Eastern’s recruiting class in January, coach Beau Baldwin and his staff took a hard look at in-state receivers.
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After that, Baldwin said the choice was a no-brainer: offer Olson-Urbon.
“We felt he was the best — and the best fit for our offense,” Baldwin said.
All along, Olson-Urbon had a liking for two Big Sky Conference programs — Eastern and Portland State, where Tides’ teammate and News Tribune All-Area player of the year Davis Alexander signed.
Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler said Baldwin and his coaches came by last spring, and did not hide how they were going to recruit their 2016 class.
“He said, ‘We recruit differently,’ ” Chantler said. “He said they were going to try and get kids up and down the West Coast … and that if you were not a borderline Pac-12 guy, we are going to wait.”
And wait Olson-Urbon did.
College of Idaho, an NAIA program, made Olson-Urbon an early offer. Then, after a season in which the senior amassed 1,516 all-purpose yards, including a school-record 1,120 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns, Central Washington also made an offer.
But no Portland State. And no Eastern.
“I am not going to lie — it was tough,” Olson-Urbon said. “It was like a kid looking into the cookie jar and not being able to grab one.”
Then on Jan. 17 — the day of the Seahawks-Panthers playoff game — Chantler received a phone call from Eastern asking about Olson-Urbon. Within a few days, the Eagles offered — and the receiver jumped on it.
Baldwin said he sees Olson-Urbon as a versatile passing-game weapon who can plays inside or outside — despite being only 6-feet tall.
“He reminds me of (all-GNAC receiver) Brian Potucek, who we had at Central (Washington),” Baldwin said. “Out of the break, when you watch him run, he looks a lot taller.”
Olson-Urbon took his official visit to the Cheney campus last weekend. He was immediately thrust into film review with Eastern receivers coach Nicholas Edwards when a familiar figure popped his head into the room.
It was receiver Cooper Kupp, the Big Sky offensive MVP.
“It is like ‘Wide Receiver University’ over there, and having him around has already affected me,” Olson-Urbon said. “He’s reaching out to me and taking me under his wing. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to go there.”
Central Washington signs 25 recruits
There isn’t anything like being able to sleep in your own bed while recruiting on the road.
Or at least crash on your brother’s couch.
That is what second-year Central Washington University football coach Ian Shoemaker did in putting together in 25-player class for 2016.
Shoemaker scoured the South Puget Sound League for 10 players, including three seniors who are from the same area where Shoemaker grew up in Graham.
He tabbed Graham-Kapowsin defensive back Aaron Wright, a News Tribune All-Area member; Bethel receiver Elijah McLeod, a News Tribune All Area second-team member, and Spanaway Lake tight end Leroy Lawrence.
“No doubt, we have really flushed out our wide receiver and defensive back groups,” Shoemaker said. “And there is great football being played in the SPSL, which is the strength of our state a lot of the time.”
Shoemaker said Wright, Auburn Riverside’s Darrien Rivera and Bellevue’s Tyren Sams will start out at cornerback, while Lincoln’s Darien Williams, Kentwood’s Isaiah Williams and Central Kitsap’s Kendal Yaegle project as safeties.
“We think that defensive back group is a pretty special group,” Shoemaker said. “They are fast, long and physical. We want to have athletic guys who can run and cover.”
Shoemaker said Lawrence will play at either tight end or could slide down to defensive end.
Quarterback Liam Fitzgerald, the 4A Greater St. Helens League offensive player of the year from Camas, is a signal caller who can pass and run in Central’s multifaceted offense.
Last season, Fitzgerald threw for nearly 3,200 yards and totaled 36 touchdowns.
“Physically, you just notice him,” Shoemaker said. “His ability to pass and run with the football excites us the most.”
Shoemaker signed four offensive linemen, including Peninsula’s Reece Johnson and Washington’s Ieremia Pelupelu.
2016 FOOTBALL CLASSES
- Eric Barriere, QB, 6-0, 195, La Habra, Calif.
- Jake Blackburn, OL, 6-3, 265, Newbury Park, Calif.
- Nick Blair, OL, 6-7, 315, Everett, Wash.
- Calin Criner, S, 5-10, 185, Boise, Idaho (Rocky Mountain)
- Conner Crist, OL, 6-3, 305, Tigard, Ore.
- Antoine Custer, RB, 5-9, 180, Concord, Calif. (De La Salle)
- Derek Dyer, OL, 6-4, 290, Kennewick
- Benaiah Ellington, CB, 6-2, 180, Bellevue
- Xavier James, WR, 6-2, 170, Buckeye, Ariz. (Verrado)
- Kedrick Johnson, LB, 6-3, 200, Vancouver, Wash. (Hockinson)
- Talolo Limu-Jones, TE, 6-5, 210, Modesto, Calif. (Davis)
- Jay-R Mataia, DL, 6-3, 250, Vancouver (Evergreen)
- Keith Moore, DL, 6-5, 290, Bremerton (Olympic)
- Tre Neal, DT, 6-3, 255, Hermiston, Ore.
- Kyle Olson-Urbon, WR, 6-0, 185, Gig Harbor
- Tamarick Pierce, RB, 5-10, 205, Berkeley, Calif. (St. Mary's College)
- Colton Swain, TE, 6-4, 215, Snoqualmie (Mount Si)
- Jason Talley, RB, 6-1, 215, Portland, Ore. (Jesuit)
- Brett Thompson, OL, 6-4, 235, Olympia
- Gage Anderson, LB, 5-11, 200, Spokane Valley (University)
- Devon Arbis-Jackson, WR, 5-11, 230, Sammamish (Eastside Catholic)
- Tony Archie, WR, 6-0, 180, Tacoma (Lincoln)
- Kaleb Ash, RB, 5-10, 180, Pasco
- Liam Fitzgerald, QB, 6-0, 190, Camas
- Hunter Haggerty, DL, 6-3, 235, Tumwater
- Jordan Jira, OL, 6-3, 265, Arlington (Lakewood)
- Jalani Johnson, DL, 6-0, 270, Seattle (Bishop Blanchet)
- Jordan Johnson, WR, 5-9, 155, Enumclaw
- Reece Johnson, OL, 6-3, 265, Gig Harbor (Peninsula)
- Leroy Lawrence, TE, 6-2, 240, Spanaway (Spanaway Lake)
- Benicio Madrigal-Ries, DL, 6-0, 260, Arlington
- Elijah McLeod, WR, 6-2, 200, Spanaway (Bethel)
- Ridge Montgomery, WR, 6-0, 175, Moses Lake
- Dylan Murphy, TE, 6-2, 220, Bellevue (Newport)
- Max Nauer, DL, 6-0, 265, Lakewood (Lakes)
- Will Ortner, OL, 6-4, 280, Vancouver (Hockinson)
- Iremia Pelupelu, OL, 6-3, 265, Parkland (Washington)
- Darrien Rivera, DB, 5-11, 180, Auburn (Auburn Riverside)
- Tyren Sams, DB, 5-11, 175, Bellevue
- Andrew Tofaeono, LB, 5-11, 220, Federal Way (Todd Beamer)
- Darien Williams, DB, 6-0, 195, Tacoma (Lincoln)
- Isaiah Williams, DB, 6-0, 160, Kent (Kentwood)
- Aaron Wright, DB, 5-8, 165, Spanaway (Graham-Kapowsin)
- Kendal Yaegle, DB, 5-11, 190, Silverdale (Central Kitsap)