Win the state of Washington.
For Jimmy Lake, that’s the ultimate recruiting goal in the 2021 class. According to the 247Sports Composite, three five-star prospects and six more four-star recruits currently reside within its borders.
And one of them verbally committed to the home-state Huskies on Sunday.
Will Latu — a 6-foot-2, 221-pound two-way standout from Spanaway — became UW’s third 2021 commit in the last eight days.
“First, I want to thank everybody for coming out and supporting me,” Latu said on Sunday morning, sitting at a table with both UW and Utah hats, in a video streamed live on Instagram. “It’s been a huge journey in this recruiting process. I’m just thankful. Without the man above and my parents, I wouldn’t be here today. These two colleges, they stood out to me. I only have to pick one, and my choice is locked in. I just feel like this is the best choice for me and my family for the next three to four years, and I can’t wait to start.”
“For the next three to four years, I decided to stay home and be committed to the Dawgs.”
Latu — who primarily played running back at Bethel High School in 2019 — rushed for 707 yards, 5.9 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. He added 214 receiving yards and five receiving scores, too. After committing on Sunday, he said that Washington plans to use him as a linebacker with the potential for occasional running back packages as well.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I like to get tackles and score touchdowns, so I can’t wait.”
Regarded as a four-star prospect and the No. 13 athlete in the 2021 class by 247Sports, Latu chose the Huskies over scholarship offers from USC, Michigan, Utah, Arizona State, Colorado, Washington State, Nebraska, Kansas State, Tennessee and Oregon State.
Of course, UW will have to beat many of those same schools for its other in-state targets. Five-star quarterback Sam Huard is a longtime Husky commit, and three-star fullback Caden Jumper pledged to UW in April as well. Last month, four-star Tacoma outside linebacker Julien Simon verbally committed to USC.
But many of the state’s premier prospects are still up for grabs. Specifically, UW is currently recruiting five-star defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau, five-star wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, four-star offensive lineman Owen Prentice, four-star wide receivers Jabez Tinae and Junior Alexander and four-star defensive tackle Jacob Schuster.
Will Latu’s commitment be a sign of things to come? That’s certainly the hope for the Huskies. Though UW has 10 verbal commits in the 2021 class, just two of them — Huard and Latu — are regarded as four- or five-star prospects. The class is currently ranked third in the Pac-12 and 42nd nationally by 247Sports.
In other words, there’s work to be done. But Sunday’s commitment qualifies as a step in the right direction.
“Obviously Washington wanted to make a splash with in-state recruiting in this 2021 cycle, and he’s been one of the known names for quite some time,” said 247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman. “He’s a player that will end up being a four-year varsity guy that I think has versatility position-wise. He can play on either side of the ball.
“In this cycle especially, with a lot of the top guys having offers from all over the country, he’s another one of those guys. His first offer was from USC. He pulled in some national offers and he’s staying local, so I think that certainly helps with the in-state presence that Washington is trying to have in 2021.”