The move makes the Lancers a state contender as it returns much of the best offense in the state and helps shore up a defense that struggled last season.

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Sav’ell Smalls is going to finish where he started.

One of the top football recruits in the country is leaving Garfield, where he played the last two seasons, and is returning to Kennedy Catholic, where he played as a freshman.

The move became official Monday as he was officially enrolled at Kennedy Catholic, Smalls confirmed. He  is eligible to play in 2019 as Smalls said his family moved to Burien.

Smalls said via text that he transferred, “Just to put myself in an environment where I can continue to develop and grow and mature as not only a student and an athlete, but an overall person as well.”

The five-star Smalls is rated as the No. 4 junior recruit in the nation by 247Sports.com. Last month, he created a short list of 12 programs he’s interested in: Alabama, Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M, Clemson, Florida State, Washington and Washington State.

The Lancers were already a state favorite in 2019, and the addition of the 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker solidifies that position.

Kennedy Catholic, which lost to Puyallup in the Class 4A state preliminary round, had one of the top offenses in the state, averaging 49.7 points per game. But the Lancers struggled on defense, giving up 38 points per game.

The Lancers feature Sam Huard, son of former Husky and NFL quarterback Damon Huard, who is the No. 13 sophomore recruit in the nation and No. 1 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports.com. He has committed to Washington.

At Garfield, Smalls helped the Bulldogs make a run to the state semifinals as a sophomore, the school’s first state football victories since 1977. It was a run that ended in a historic semifinal against Rainier Beach, the first that featured two Seattle Public Schools teams.

“We wish Sav’ell nothing but success moving forward,” said Garfield coach Joey Thomas, himself a Kennedy Catholic alum. “We enjoyed the time that we had to teach and mentor him and coach him, basically for the three years we had him.

“As far as him and I go, we’re on good terms. I love the kid. That’s where I’m going to leave it. We’re not campaigning to keep him at all. We’ll be fine. He’s a great talent.”

Jayda Evans contributed to this report.