JSerra Catholic High School produced a pair of UW offensive line signees in the 2016 class — Nick Harris and Luke Wattenberg.
Harris, of course, transcended a modest frame and recruiting ranking to become a four-year starter, a two-time All-Pac-12 first-team performer and a fifth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2020. He has since appeared in 23 NFL games, making two starts.
Wattenberg was next in line.
On Saturday, the 6-foot-4, 299-pound center was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 171st pick in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft.
And though Wattenberg was a four-star recruit — unlike Harris — in the 2016 class, his college career was defined more by quiet consistency than overwhelming success. The soft-spoken Trabuco Canyon, Calif., native started 43 consecutive games from 2018 to 2021 — first at left guard, then at center. (He played in 11 games, starting five, as a redshirt freshman left tackle in 2017 as well.) But he was only recognized as a two-time All-Pac-12 honorable mention performer.
In six seasons in Seattle, Wattenberg didn’t draw much attention.
But that all changed in the pre-draft process.
“He practiced really well at the East-West Shrine Bowl,” FOX Sports draft analyst Rob Rang said this offseason. “He performed well there in terms of the practices, and I know he interviewed really well. People were excited about how he did there.
“This is a solid center class. It’s got a lot of guys that I expect to go in the middle to late rounds that I think are possible future NFL guys. With his versatility, I think he’s right in that mix. So I think he’s got a pretty good chance at being drafted, and if he’s not drafted outright he certainly will be a high-profile free agent prospect. He’s someone I have some confidence in. I believe he can buck the odds and be a guy who can have an NFL career.”
Likewise, UW offensive line coach Scott Huff told local media this week: “I got a really cool message right before the shrine game. All the coaches were in there talking and I got word that they said he was the best lineman at that game. I don’t know if that’s public information; maybe I slipped up. But they said he did a really good job. Everything’s been super positive.
“So we’ll see. He just has to get to the right spot. It doesn’t matter what round. He just needs to get to the right offense that fits him.”
Regardless of round, Wattenberg’s draft status provides some distinction. In the last decade, just three UW offensive linemen have been drafted — Wattenberg, Harris and Kaleb McGary in 2019.
Huff might want to recruit more JSerra Catholic Lions.
“I think he’s really excited,” Huff said of Wattenberg. “I know we’re all excited for him. He’s worked really, really hard, and nobody deserves to have a great (draft) day more than Luke.”