There aren’t very many firsts in football recruiting.
But this might be one. On Friday — his 18th birthday — three-star outside linebacker Maurice Heims announced his verbal commitment to Washington. He’s believed to be the first German football player to make a verbal pledge to UW.
“As a kid from Germany that hasn’t played football for that long, this entire recruiting process has been an awesome experience,” Heims tweeted. “I’ve built good relationships with a lot of coaches, and I am beyond thankful for them believing in my abilities as a football player and a young man.
“And with that being said my decision came down to the place where I feel home. I am extremely excited to be able to call Seattle and the University of Washington my future home”.
Granted, Heims’ eventual journey to his future home might not be as long as you’d expect. The Hamburg, Germany, product moved to the United States last year to pursue his passion. He settled at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Santa Margarita, Calif.
But his blossoming football career hit an unexpected snag. Due to transfer rules, Heims was not permitted to play varsity football. He was a rare junior on Santa Margarita’s JV team instead (though he’s set to make his varsity debut this fall).
On Friday, 247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman called Heims “raw as all get-out.” Which might beg the question: Why is Washington interested in a prospect who has never played varsity football in the United States?
The answer is obvious. Just look at the kid.
“He’s 6-5, 250, and pretty damn athletic and quick off the ball,” Huffman said. “That’s really the biggest thing with him. He has a lot of raw natural ability that just needs some development. It needs some coaching. Playing JV football obviously didn’t help him a whole lot. He’s chasing down freshmen and sophomores and he’s a junior.
“He needs experience. He needs teaching. He needs coaching. But you can’t teach the size and the athleticism that he’s got.”
It’s Heims’ potential — not his production — that netted a high three-star ranking via 247Sports and coaxed scholarship offers from UW, Arizona State, Colorado, Penn State, Washington State, Arizona, Boston College, Illinois, Oregon State and more. He’ll almost certainly need a redshirt season before receiving a realistic opportunity to play inside Husky Stadium.
And, according to UW’s coaches, Heims’ physical potential might be worth the wait. He can learn from the likes of Laiatu Latu, Sav’ell Smalls, Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Jordan Lolohea and Bralen Trice at the outside-linebacker position. And then, come 2022 or 2023, he might be ready to convert potential into sacks and tackles for loss.
Heims is UW’s ninth verbal commit in the 2021 class — and, needless to say, its first from outside of the United States. It’s worth noting that former UW wide receiver and first-round NFL draft pick Reggie Williams was born on a U.S. military base in Landstuhl, Germany.
If Heims’ production eventually mirrors Williams’, Friday’s birthday present will be beneficial for Washington, too.