Among the 20 players who signed Letters of Intent to play for Idaho on Wednesday, only one is from the greater Spokane area. The rest of them come from places as far away as Florida on the East Coast, and California in the West.
But some of their names are immediately familiar.
Central Valley kicker Austin Rehkow is the local favorite on the list - the kicker who booted a 67-yard field goal last season and got national attention for it.
But also on the list is a quarterback with a familiar last name. Matt Linehan, son of former Vandal Scott Linehan, comes to Moscow from Orchard Lake, Mich.
Linehan about growing up in a football family: "I've learned a ton from my dad
and his players over the years. Getting a chance to watch players like Matthew
Stafford, Shaun Hill, Nate Burleson, Calvin Johnson, and other players who
played the game right has helped me prepare for my football career. What my dad
has done for me now will end up helping me in the long
Zach Cable is another familiar name. The son of former Vandal and coach Tom Cable, the linebacker from Renton, Wash. also played tight end at Hazen High. It is expected he will play on the defensive line at Idaho.
Trent Cowan, younger brother of All-American Vandal punter Bobby Cowan, also signed with the Vandals on Wednesday. He is both a receiver and a punter.
Cottonwood High School
Salt Lake City, Utah
Banks played receiver and defensive back at Cottonwood. As a senior, he had 24 total tackles, two interceptions and four passes defensed. During his junior season, he had seven tackles and eight pass breakups as a corner and was honored as the Outstanding Defensive back.
Coach Petrino said you literally can see the potential in Banks: "You look at him and you see the body of a guy that plays the secondary in the NFL. He has long arms and he can run. He will hit you and has great cover skills. Desmond is a superb kid and a really good student."
Hazen High School
As a senior, Cable earned first-team all-Seamount League honors as a linebacker. The son of former Vandal player and coach Tom Cable, Zach Cable also played tight end at Hazen. In assessing his abilities, Northwest Elite Index had this to say: "Put the pads on this kid and you don't want to run into him. He could be one of the breakout performers in the State of Washington."
There is a lot to like about Cable, Petrino said, not the least of which he is one of three sons of Vandals to sign.
"He's a young kid who is going to get real big," Petrino said. "His dad was a great player here, coach here and is one of the best O-line coaches in the NFL. We're real excited to have Zach. He has a great motor. He knows the game. Zach is going to grow to be big like his dad. We look forward to him being a great defensive lineman for us."
Union High School
Cowan is following in the footsteps of his older brother, Bobby, who as an All-American punter for the Vandals and who holds most UI punting records. Cowan was a first-team all-Greater St. Helen's League player as a senior and a preseason all-state selection by the Tacoma News Tribune, and subsequently the paper's all-state choice at receiver, defensive back and punter. He caught 55 passes for 798 yards as a senior and carried the ball 25 times for 213 yards. As the punter, he averaged nearly 40 yards per kick. He also served as Union's placekicker.
"He's a stud; he an absolute stud," said his high school coach Cale Piland in a Tacoma News Tribune story. "It doesn't matter where we put him. The best way I can describe him is that he's a football player. We roll with him."
Petrino like that aspect of Cowan as well as his ties to the University of Idaho, which is parents and grandparents attended.
"He's big. He's a great athlete and he can catch the ball well," Petrino said. "I really like the way he can catch the ball with his hands away from his body and then he does a good job running with it after the catch.
"He's another Vandal in the family. That's always great to have."
Nick Edenfield (pronounced ED-en-field)
Columbia High School
Edenfield was a 2012 4A All-Idaho selection as well as an all-Southern Idaho Conference choice as a junior and senior. During his senior season, he was an integral part of an offense that averaged 423 yards and 30.4 points per game.
"Nick is a brutal run blocker," said his coach, Derek Mertz.
Edenfield said he knows what he needs to do at the next level. "Pass blocking comes to mind," he said. "Just getting better at everything; there is always room for improvement."
Petrino said he is excited about the potential Edenfield has to develop into a premier lineman.
"He has a great motor," Petrino said. "When you talk to him, you can tell he's fired up – ready to go, get after it. He's very athletic and has good feet. He'll end up being a big-time player for us when it's all said and done."
Wide receiver/defensive back
Grant High School
San Francisco City College
Epps was a highly acclaimed receiver at San Francisco City where he was on the 2012 All-America Community College Football Team as chosen by the JC Athletic Bureau and the California Community College Football Coaches Association. Prior to the start of the season, he was on the 2013 JC Gridiron Receivers Watch List. As a sophomore, he finished with a team-best 31 carries for 329 yards and seven TDs as well as 20 receptions for 404 yards and two TDs. He returned punts and kickoffs and wound up with 15 punt returns for 347 yards and six kickoff returns for 208.
He also was a first-team Region I selection as a freshman, a season which was culminated by SFCC winning the regional title with Epps accounting for three TDs – two receiving and one rushing.
Epps, Petrino says, has a lot to offer immediately.
"He is probably as big a recruit as we got," Petrino said. "He's a great returner – great lateral movement, can stop on a dime, change direction. Anytime you can get big yards with your kickoff and punt returns, that really helps everything else.
"He can be a really good receiver for us, too," Petrino said. "He has great speed and big-play ability."
Southeast High School
Grabski missed part of the 2012 season with injury but was selected to play in the 21st Brad Park Memorial PAL All-Star Game. He had acclaimed sophomore and junior seasons and also participated in track and field. Grabski was his team's Defensive Most Valuable Player, Special Teams Most Valuable Player and first-team all-Manatee County. As a sophomore, he earned second team all-Area honors.
After having recruited Southeast for the past 20 years, Petrino knew he would find the talent he needed there and Grabski is no exception.
"Jordan has great speed," Petrino said. "He runs on their 4x100 relay and anyone who runs on the 4x100 at Southeast has to be fast."
That's not all. "He'll hit you. He plays the ball real well and he has great skills."
Rancho Cucamonga High School
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Hawkins was selected to play in the 2012 CalState 5-Star All-Star game in addition to earning recognition as a San Bernardino all-state and second-team all-baseline league. As a senior, Hawkins had 54 total tackles, three interceptions, one sack, two forced fumbles and 14 passes defensed. He missed his junior season because of an injury.
He's been focusing on technique. "I improved on my footwork, my speed and my man on man coverage. … I had the chance to guard some of the top players in the area, not just from Rancho."
Petrino said Hawkins is the prototype defensive back. "He has great acceleration, good change of direction, good cover skills and is a good tackler. He just has all the traits that you want to see in the secondary. We're very excited to have him."
Rockhurst High School
Kansas City, Mo.
As a junior, Lashley had 54 tackles and three sacks. The following summer, he had a stellar showing at the St. Louis Elite Football Combine where he had the most reps in the 225 bench press with 17, and was noted for his 40 time and agility, which elicited this comment: "A solid combination of speed and strength." Although he missed part of his senior season with injury, he was a strong contributor to Rockhurst's 9-3 overall record and third-place finish in the state.
Petrino knew all about Lashley when he hit the recruiting trail for Idaho.
"He came to our camp at Arkansas," Petrino said. "He was the best high school linebacker we had in camp. (Arkansas) went with junior college linebackers that year. That was fortunate for us. Tony is a hitter. He's aggressive; real instinctive. He has the skills to possibly come in and play early."
St. Mary's High School
Orchard Lake, Mich.
Linehan follows in the footsteps of his father, Scott, as a Vandal quarterback. Linehan, a multi-sport athlete, was honored as a blue chip player by the Detroit News after leading St. Mary's to the state championship game. An all-league selection, he threw for 1,500 yards as St. Mary's captured the Catholic League title. He also was a key member of St. Mary's Class A regional basketball championship during his junior year.
Said Linehan about growing up in a football family: "I've learned a ton from my dad and his players over the years. Getting a chance to watch players like Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, Nate Burleson, Calvin Johnson, and other players who played the game right has helped me prepare for my football career. What my dad has done for me now will end up helping me in the long run."
Petrino said it's clear Linehan has been raised around the game – in particular, around quarterbacks.
"He's just a great athlete with a great motion," Petrino said. "There isn't any wasted motion. He has a quick release and a strong arm. I think Matt will end up being a big-time quarterback for us some day."
His pure athleticism is another bonus. Petrino, who remembers Linehan growing three inches from his junior to his senior year in high school, watched a basketball game during which Linehan accounted for 28 points in his team's double overtime victory.
Tueni Luepamanu (pronounced Twen-e LU pe ah ma nu)
Harriman High School
Luepamanu played quarterback, linebacker and punted – all in helping lead Harriman to an 8-3 record and the Region 7 championship. His high school coach lauded his versatility: "He's the type of kid that I think has a very good future at the next level. There's no question."
In other assessments, Luepamanu is said to "have a great football IQ. As a quarterback, he is a field general. He uses his size and speed to beat half the defense and his football knowledge to take care of the rest."
Luepamanu said he will play where he's needed most. "I'll play whatever position gets me on the field."
That just might be the case, too, Petrino said.
"Early in his career, I think he'll be a fullback for us," Petrino said. "He's hard-nosed; tough. He's just a really good football player. He might grow into a defensive tackle. He's a guy who can help us early on one side of the ball and might grow into helping us on the other side of the ball when it's all said and done."
Piedmont Hills High School
San Jose, Calif.
McCain comes to Idaho with impressive credentials from DeAnza College and Piedmont High School. As a sophomore at DeAnza, he played in 11 games, threw for 29,58 yards and 32 touchdowns, while completing 198 of 405 passes. He was the NorCal Conference Offensive Player of the Year and twice was recognized as the national underclassman of the week. He was a JC Athletic Bureau-California Community College Football Coaches Association All-American first team. He was a Region I all-California first team and the Offensive Player of the Year.
At DeAnza, he threw for 2, 229 yards and 25 TDs as a senior. He had two games of 300 or more yards with his best outings a 15-of-22 outing that netted 353 yards and two TDs, and a 26-of-29 game for 325 yards and four TDs. He had one game of five touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,139 yards and eight TDs, and played defensive back where he had 335 tackles and three interceptions. As a senior, he was first team all-Mercury News, first-team all-Mount Hamilton division, league MVP, team MVP, Mercury News Player of the Week and Cal-Hi Player of the Week. During his junior season, he earned honorable mention on the all-Mercury News team as well as first-team all-league, league Junior of the Year, Team MVP and one Mercury News Player of the Week honor. He was his team's MPV as a sophomore and freshman and was the Freshman of the Year.
It seems there isn't much he can't do.
"He's the type of quarterback that is becoming the big thing this day in age," Petrino said noting McCain's mobility. "He's a dual threat. He can run around and make all kinds of plays when the protection breaks down. He's going to really hurt people throwing the ball on the run and he can tuck it and run.
"He'll extend plays. He has great speed. We're very, very excited to get Josh McCain."
Atlantic Coast High School
Montgomery was the first player in Atlantic Coast history to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing barrier when he finished the season with 1,633 yards and 19 touchdowns. He had 312 yards in one game and 212 in another. Montgomery was a second-team all-First Coast selection as well as a second-team Class 6A Florida All-State selection.
Said one reporter: "He's been an absolute beast this season. He's really (Atlantic Coast's) main threat on offense."
Petrino's ties to Florida were instrumental in landing Montgomery, who could see the field sooner rather than later.
"Richard has great speed," Petrino said. "He can really run and he's a playmaker. Definitely look for him to come in and help us as a freshman. He's just a playmaker all the way around."
Rueben Mwehla (MOO well ah)
Bellevue High School
Mwehla played receiver and cornerback at Bellevue, which finished the 2012 campaign with an unblemished 14-0 record as Washington's No. 1 high school team and the No. 5 team in the nation. Mwehla was a second-team KingCo choice and was described by Northwest Prep Report as "Intense. A superb athlete and a very focused, hard worker. Just the sort of kid you need to win championships. … He has a nice combination of speed and explosiveness and has that cat-like quickness you want to see out there."
WashingtonPreps.com had this to say about him: "Mwehla impressed us last season. … There is nothing he does not do well. Most of all, he brings the passion and the attitude you want in a football player and is confident in his abilities."
Not only is he the type of athlete and student, Petrino wants, Mwehla comes from a program rich in a winning tradition.
"We had to hold onto him at the end. A lot of people tried to come in and steal him," Petrino said. "He has great speed, good change of direction, and catches the ball well with his hands."
Central Valley High School
Rehkow's name is a familiar one to high school football fans. After all, he's the kicker who booted a 67-yard field goal that broke an 83-year old Washington High School record and was within one yard of the national record of 68. He doesn't only kick them long, he's accurate. He's been highly recognized throughout Washington and particularly in the Greater Spokane League. As a junior, he was successful on 89 percent of his field goal attempts and was rewarded with all-state and all-GSL honors. He also was all-GSL as a sophomore and senior. During his senior season, he was the all-GSL punter as well after averaging 48 yards per kick. He averaged 39 per punt as a junior.
The 67-yard field goal left an indelible impression. "I hit it really well. It was a really good feeling to see them signal that it was good and to know it helped my team. It was really special."
There more to Rehkow than just a great leg, Petrino said.
"He's a great athlete," Petrino said. "That's what some people might not understand. He's a great basketball player and might punt. Anytime you have a great athlete, that's a plus because, in my opinion, they're more competitive. He reminds me of (Vandal great) Mike Hollis. Austin will definitely challenge to be both the punter and kicker his first year."
Edmondson High School
Hartnell Community college
Rice was the second-most prolific defensive lineman in the California Community College Athletic Association with 54 tackles and 6.5 sacks. He also had 10.5 tackles for loss as Hartnell won the Coast Conference and Southern Division championships. He earned first-team all-Coast Conference and first-team Region III all-California that season. As a freshman, he played linebacker and was third on the team with 55 total tackles but the sack (nine) and tackles for loss (17 for -79 yards) leader. He also forced two fumbles.
He was a standout throughout his high school career beginning with his sophomore season during which he had 42 tackles and one sack. As a junior, he also played tight end and managed 107 total tackles and 10 sacks. He had four double-digit tackle games with a high of 13, while earning all-Baltimore recognition. Rice accounted for 104 tackles and five sacks as a senior.
Petrino's network came into play when landing Rice, the junior college roommate of an Arkansas player.
"Anthony will really help our defensive line in maturity," Petrino said. "He'll be a great leader for us. He's really mature besides being a great football player. He will bring a lot of stability to that crew – which we need.
"His work ethic is to just play hard play after play and get after the quarterback."
Southeast High School
Sannon comes to Idaho coming off an all-state season at Southeast High School. As a senior, he led his team with 730 yards on 43 catches – 10 of which were touchdowns. Sannon had a career high 169 yards vs. DeSoto County in earning third-team honors on the Florida 5A all-state team. He was chosen to play in the 21st annual Brad Rice Memorial PAL Bowl, which pitted seniors from Manatee County against seniors from Sarasota County. He was honored as a first-team all-Manatee County selection as well as a third-team all-state choice. He also was Manatee's Most Outstanding Offensive Player, as well as Southeast's Offensive MVP.
As a junior, Sannon had 326 yards on 23 catches. His second high was eight catches for 100 yards.
Sannon is another player who comes to Idaho via Petrino's southeastern ties.
"I'm really excited about Jacob," Petrino said. "He has great speed, he catches the ball well with his hands, and he's really a good runner after the catch.
"I just can't say enough about how excited I am to get Jacob here and have him be a part of our program. He will be a big-time receiver here before it's all said and done."
Pleasant Grove High School
Elk Grove, Calif.
Saunders joins three others in the 2013 class as the son of a former Vandal. His dad, Walter, was a receiver at Idaho from 1991-93 when coach Paul Petrino was a Vandal assistant.
As a senior, Saunders led Pleasant Grove with 1,383 yards on 259 carries with 16 going for touchdowns. He added another 13 receptions for 129 yards. Saunders had seven games of 100 or more yards with his career outing 268 yards on 31 carries (six TDs) against Sheldon. He was an all-Delta River selection and played in the 56th annual Optimist All-Star Football Classic.
As a junior, he was second on the team with 88 carries for 625 yards and 13 touchdowns. His best that season was 12 carries for 129 yards.
From Rocklin Super Sophomores: "Usually 7-on-7 tournaments are hard for running backs to display their talents, especially if they are a big, power back like Saunders. However, he has extremely soft hands and runs good routes. He impressed us in the Badger/New Level Athletics 7v7 in Las Vegas, and he did again on Saturday in Rocklin."
While Saunders' dad and brother are receivers, Petrino said Isaiah's bulk makes him a running back – and a good one at that.
"He has great acceleration," Petrino said. "He just has to learn to burst every time he has the ball. When you see him do it, it's real special."
O'Dea High School
Schmidt was a multi-position standout at O'Dea where he played defensive end, receiver and punted. He earned first-team all-Metro League honors as a defensive end and punter for his senior season.
Petrino said renewing ties with perennial power O'Dea was a goal of recruiting.
"They have a great program," said Petrino, noting the long line of Vandal greats that came from the Seattle high school – and he expects Schmidt to follow that pattern. "Will's just got a high, high motor. He's going to get really big."
That is foretold by his 10.5 inch hands – the largest of the recruiting class.
"He has big broad shoulders and a great motor," Petrino said. "He's going to be a great defensive lineman. We're real excited to have him."
Auburn High School
Petrino and his staff won some recruiting battles late to land Shelton, one of the top defensive players in Washington. As a junior, Shelton earned first-team all-South Puget Sound League 4A North Division honors at linebacker and honorable mention recognition at tight end.
As a senior, he further impressed when he was moved to defensive end and totaled 70 tackles and 12 sacks. Again, he earned first-team all-SPSL honors for his defensive play and honorable mention at tight end. He was voted team captain and helped return Auburn to its glory days with a run to state semifinals. He also was the Trojans' long snapper.
"He's just a great player," Petrino said. "He could be a defensive lineman or a tight end. He has a great motor. He's just an unbelievable athlete.
"We were battling forever to get him. He is a great get in the last hours. We're real excited about that."
Minico High School
Thompson was a first-team 4A All-Idaho choice as a junior and as a senior. He was a key figure in Minico's winning back-to-back Great Basin Conference championships and a 15-5 record. During his senior season, the Spartans averaged 405 yards and 33.9 points per game. He also was a Max Preps 2012 preseason all-state offensive lineman.
In signing with the Vandals, Thompson becomes the first player from Minico to sign with an FBS team in at least 20 years.
Petrino sees a diamond in the rough in Thompson.
"He has real good size and great strength," Petrino said. "He might not have played at the level of some of these other players but he has the size and strength to play at this level. We just have to keep improving him."