After 44 years of coaching, Bob Ames isn’t given to gushing about his players at Bellingham’s Meridian High School.
Unless that player is quarterback Simon Burkett.
“I love all our kids, but he’s been a beacon, a shining light of our program,” Ames said. “He’s grown from a small, skinny kid to a taller slender kid who’s worked his tail off.”
Burkett will soon take that work ethic to Eastern Washington, which in December signed him to a full-ride scholarship.
More players will sign with the Eagles during National Signing Day on Wednesday, but Burkett didn’t see the need to wait. After an on-campus visit during spring practice last year, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound dual threat didn’t need any more persuasion.
“I just had a great relationship with the coaches and the players,” Burkett said. “I also like the type of football they play.”
Eastern’s dynamic offense certainly was a selling point. So was the winning tradition, along with an opportunity to study mechanical engineering in Cheney. Eastern was the total package – much like Burkett.
“I think I can do a little bit of everything,” said Burkett, who finished with 7,658 yards passing and 79 touchdown passes. He also rushed for 1,564 yards and 29 TDs.
“He’s long, and will be good in our running game and our run-pass option schemes,” Eastern coach Aaron Best said in December, also noting how he prizes Burkett’s ability to extend plays.
Ames, Meridian’s head coach since 1974, likes Burkett’s mechanics.
“He can throw the ball a country mile, and he’s really fast,” Ames said.
“He’s also very humble, but he also has that intense desire to succeed,” added Ames, who also coached current starting EWU center Spencer Blackburn.
“But he also takes time to help the younger kids, to help explain things,” said Ames, who gives Burkett much of the credit for leading Meridian to the State 1A title game despite having just one player on the roster of more than 200 pounds.
Burkett is one of eight early signees for the Eagles, who expect to add at least six more on Wednesday.
Since then, they’ve received oral commitments from three-star wide receiver/defensive backs Freddy Roberson of Seattle and Tre Weed of Sumner, Washington; running back Micah Smith from Graham, Washington; linebacker Isaiah Lewis of Monroe, Washington; and Aiden Nellor, a tight end/defensive end from Vancouver, Washington.
The Eagles also have an oral commit from linebacker Dean Sise from Kirkland, Washington, who played for Navy last year.
Eastern also is waiting on punter/place-kicker Trevor Bowens, who played last year at Utah State. Bowens has given an oral commitment.