As They Try to Rebuild Hawaii as Talent Source, Huskies Offer Edge Rusher

[Sports Illustrated] As They Try to Rebuild Hawaii as Talent Source, Huskies Offer Edge Rusher

It was just a light-hearted comment — that the University of Washington football team now would become Edge Rusher U after more than a decade of supplying high-end defensive backs.

Yet Jimmy Lake and DBU is gone now and there's a different coaching staff in Montlake with its own set of priorities.

In one season of Kalen DeBoer, it was noteworthy that the Huskies supplied both first-team All-Pac-12 selections at edge rusher in Bralen Trice and Jeremiah Martin, plus had Zion Tupuola-Fetui earn honorable mention, this two years after the latter was a first-teamer.

While Lake's staff might have recruited all of those players and put them in uniform, it was DeBoer's coaches who got Trice and Martin over the finish line. 

Eric Schmidt, the UW edge-rusher coach, is another one of those assistants who is fast building a reputation for getting things done on the football field and might be hard to keep around. In fact, he's FCS head-coaching material in the not too distant future, according to a very knowledgeable source.

With all that said and done, the Huskies this past week offered a scholarship to the top edge-rusher prospect in Hawaii in Anelu Lafaele, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior from Honolulu's Saint Louis High School and considered the second-best player in the islands for 2024. 

Lafaele has 15 offers, among then Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin and BYU, plus eight Pac-12 schools.

While the Huskies have highly edge rusher ZTF (Pearl City) and defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele (Saint Louis) penciled in as starters for 2023, their Hawaii roster representation has been lagging in recent years.

Too many islanders have been program misses, with four transferring out in recent seasons and not succeeding or going elsewhere. Another four players prior to ZTF didn't pan out in Seattle either.

The UW, in fact, has just three Hawaii players currently on scholarship when adding in offensive tackle Julius Buelow (Kapolei), who was a 2021 starter for half a season, but has been slow to develop and maintain a first-unit role. 

Lafaele, a very active defensive player who wrestles, is the second Hawaiian recruit offered by the Huskies this month, along with Aiea offensive tackle Preston Taumua.

This comes as DeBoer, UW defensive-line coach and Hawaiian native Inoke Breckterfield and the rest of the coaching staff try to rebuild a once very steady source of football talent.

Then there's that edge-rusher thing in Montlake, a label that's not so far-fetched. So far this month, the Huskies have offered 10 different players at this position from Texas to Utah to Hawaii, looking for a very top-level signing.

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