Nine Washington signees participated in the Polynesian Bowl last weekend, more than any other program. But which future Huskies (and Husky targets) stood out the most?
Last weekend, the Huskies descended on Honolulu.
Specifically, nine of the 20 2019 Washington football signees participated in the Polynesian Bowl all-star game, more than any other program.
The team’s two most legitimate remaining targets — linebacker Daniel Heimuli and wide receiver and tentative USC commit Puka Nacua — also took part, earning defensive and offensive MVP honors respectively.
“(Washington) also had a co-MVP in the game last year, with (freshman cornerback) Kyler Gordon,” said 247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman. “They’re probably the Power Five team that has the most to be excited about with the Poly Bowl, just because of not only the amount of players they had but the impact in every facet — special teams, in the trenches, at linebacker.
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“They certainly were well represented there.”
With that being said, here’s Huffman’s breakdown of the future Huskies (and possible Huskies) who represented themselves the best.
Four-star OLB Laiatu Latu — 6-4, 272
“Laiatu Latu was fantastic,” Huffman said of Latu, who finished with six tackles in the game. “He moves so well for being 270 (pounds). He would line up at the end. He would line up at outside linebacker. I think his versatility is what makes him so unique.
“When you watch his flexibility, you watch him in pass coverage with the linebackers, his ability to go up and get the ball, go down and get the ball, you see that athleticism. He’s a top-tier rugby player and you can really see that. Despite being huge, he’s really athletic, really fluid. He was the second-leading tackler for his team in the game.”
Three-star DT Noa Ngalu — 6-1, 280
“Noa Ngalu had a great game on the defensive line for this team,” Huffman said. (Four-star defensive tackle signee) Faatui Tuitele was kind of quiet during the week, which was surprising because he was one of the higher-rated players. But Ngalu had a good week.”
Three-star K Tim Horn — 6-2, 206
“Maybe it won’t be appreciated, but with Tim Horn making both of his (two) field goals and (three) PATs and making them right down the middle with some distance to boot, I think Husky fans are going to be giddy to have a kicker of that caliber coming in ASAP,” Huffman said.
Three-star LB Alphonzo Tuputala — 6-2, 249
Tuputala also produced six tackles in the Polynesian Bowl game.
“Alphonzo Tuputala had a good week,” Huffman said. “It’s funny, because he’s a local kid, yet he’s probably the one that gets talked about the least of any commit in this class. He had a good week.”
Four-star WR Puka Nacua — 6-2, 190
Nacua’s Polynesian Bowl performance is far from a fluke.
The Orem, Utah, native produced six catches for 93 yards last Saturday, including a balletic 29-yard touchdown grab in which he laid out in the corner of the end zone and dragged his feet in bounds for the score.
His 2,336 receiving yards at Orem High School were also the most in the country last season.
“He’s absolutely a player (Washington) needs,” Huffman said. “I think he’s a guy that has kind of shown this year that he may in fact be the best all-around receiver in this class. But I think with the fact that (Washington) redshirted (freshman wide receivers) Marquis Spiker and Austin Osborne, it’s not that the depth chart lacks receivers.”
Maybe so, but the UW depth chart certainly lacks explosive playmakers. The Huskies may not get much help in the 2019 class, either, as just one wide receiver — three-star prospect Taj Davis — signed with the team in December.
Nacua — who is currently committed to USC — will take an official visit to Washington this weekend, before wrapping up his recruitment with visits to UCLA and Oregon. His brother, Samson Nacua, is also a starting wide receiver at Utah.
Washington’s need for Nacua is apparent. But, come signing day on Feb. 6, where will the four-star prospect ultimately land?
“Honestly I still think at the end of the day he’s going to go to USC,” Huffman said. “But to me the school that could be the surprise isn’t Oregon or Washington. I think it’s Utah, and I think it’s largely because his brother is there. I think they have really tried to play up the, ‘Stay at home. Stay in state,’ theme with him.
“He’s more of a Hollywood, flash and dash type guy, which is why I think USC has been the school that he committed to and he hasn’t decommited. Losing (former Washington wide receivers coach) Matt Lubick, that was the guy recruiting him. So Junior Adams is going to have to make up a year’s worth of recruitment in one week.”
Even if Adams — Washington’s recently hired wide receivers coach — can’t accomplish that feat, Huffman maintains that the Huskies won’t be hurting as much as the numbers might suggest.
“A pickup of Puka would be huge, because it gets them a top-tier player from the state of Utah, where they’ve done really well,” Huffman said. “I think he’s a guy who comes in and plays early. But if they don’t get him I don’t think it’s the end of the world, just because you’ve got a guy like Marquis Spiker.
“He’s very similar. Ridiculously productive in high school. Record-setting receiver. Maybe he isn’t as dynamic as Puka, but I think he might have a little more consistency to him. Puka really is a spectacular player, but Spiker seems like he’s more of a fit for UW.”