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Eastern Washington recruiting haul bigger than expected

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 7, 2018, 9:24 p.m.

Eastern Washington Eagles head coach Aaron Best and his staff signed a strong class on Wednesday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington Eagles head coach Aaron Best and his staff signed a strong class on Wednesday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

For the Eastern Washington football fans gathered Wednesday morning at Northern Quest Resort and Casino, it was Christmas all over again.

Even better, actually, with more presents than most expected.

After signing eight players to early national letters of intent on Dec. 20, the Eagles figured to add just a handful on Wednesday for National Signing Day.

Instead, Eastern signed seven more players while filling almost every major need, bringing the winter haul to 18, counting two preferred walk-ons and one transfer.

The Eagles also stuck to their roots, with all but two signees coming from Washington.

“Washington was again a great destination for us to find the majority of our class in 2018,” coach Aaron Best said after entertaining fans at Northern Quest. “It’s just how it played out this year, but it could be different next year.

“But we’re going to enjoy this class, and we’ve worked on them for the better part of a year and some of them it seems like 1 1/2 and two years. We’re proud and honored to welcome the entire class to this campus, to this university and to this team.”

The newest list of additions features Sumner’s Tre Weed, but also includes a trio of single-season 2,000-yard rushers.

Weed was signed as a safety, although he was also a talented receiver and returner the past three seasons for Sumner. He earned all-state honors as an all-purpose player, is a three-star recruit and is considered by the Seattle Times as a “Red Chip” selection as one of the top 16 prospects in the state.

Weed finished his career with nearly 6,000 all-purpose yards to go with 83 touchdowns and 19 interceptions – plus wins in 33 of the team’s 38 games.

Running back Tiquan Gilmore from Torres (California) High School had 3,266 rushing yards as a junior, and more than 6,000 yards and 75 touchdowns in two seasons. In-state products Micah Smith from Graham-Kapowsin High School and Isaiah Lewis from Monroe High School each had single-season rushing performances of better than 2,000 yards.

Eastern signed a trio of players from the Rainier Beach High School team that finished as the State 3A runner-up in 2017. One of them – wide receiver Anthony Stell Jr. – was all-state in 2017, as well as Weed and Lewis.

Other Wednesday signees included wide receiver Freddie Roberson, a 6-foot-3, 180-pounder from Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School; defensive end Zion Fa’aopega, a 6-foot-4, 240-pounder from Union High School in Vancouver; tight end Aiden Nellor, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end who’s also from Union High; Emmanuel Oshuoha, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker from Seattle’s Archbishop Murphy High.

Earlier this winter, the Eagles got a commitment from former Utah State punter Trevor Knowles, who is on campus as a walk-on.

The Eagles also have an oral commit from linebacker Dean Sise, of Kirkland, who played for Navy last year.

The Eagles will have a large group of juniors on its 2018 team. The defense will return eight starters, including letter winners at two other positions with considerable starting experience. Eastern will return nine starters on offense.