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Sports >  EWU football

Three-star Kamiakin trio among Eastern Washington’s 17 early football signees

Dec. 16, 2020 Updated Wed., Dec. 16, 2020 at 9:47 p.m.

Kamiakin running back and Eastern Washington recruit Tuna Altahir faced Shadle Park and Mt. Spokane in the playoffs at Albi Stadium as a junior.  (James Snook / For The Spokesman-Review)
Kamiakin running back and Eastern Washington recruit Tuna Altahir faced Shadle Park and Mt. Spokane in the playoffs at Albi Stadium as a junior. (James Snook / For The Spokesman-Review)

Tuna Altahir was just a sophomore when he ran through and around Shadle Park for 117 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-13 District 8 3A playoff rout at Joe Albi Stadium.

A year later at the same venue, Mt. Spokane keyed on Kamiakin’s dynamic running back in a 49-20 win.

Altahir, now a senior, hasn’t played a down since his 2019 loss to the Wildcats due to Washington’s coronavirus-induced postponement of high school athletics.

But Altahir, a three-star recruit who rushed for 1,406 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior, will be making his way back to Spokane County in a different capacity in 2021.

Altahir and two other Kamiakin stars – receiver Woodley Downard and tight end Messiah Jones – were among the 17 early signees in Eastern Washington’s 2021 recruiting class on Wednesday.

“I chose EWU because of the relationship I had with the staff and the winning tradition they have over there,” the 6-foot, 215-pound Altahir said in a Twitter video.

Kamiakin is coached by former Whitworth quarterback Scott Biglin, who also helped turn Downard and Jones into three-star recruits and All-Mid-Columbia Conference players.

“(I chose EWU because) the way the coaches took the time to know the person behind the player, which was awesome,” Downard said in a Twitter video.

Downard caught 45 passes for 874 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019. His teammate, Jones (6-6, 240), will convert from receiver to tight end at EWU.

“My family can watch all my home games, (EWU has) a good physical therapy program, where I want to earn a degree and a good football team,” Jones said in a Twitter video.

EWU head coach Aaron Best, who has three players on his roster from Kamiakin, including offensive guard Wyatt Musser, cornerback Darreon Moore and receiver Champ Grayson, is happy to add more talent from the Kennewick school.

“All three of the players are very athletic and very long, and two are basketball players,” Best said. “They are gifted, not just as athletes but as people. They are close to one another, and we’re fortunate we became their destination after high school.”

The Eagles signed an additional Tri-Cities talent in defensive back Desmian Licon, a two-sport standout at Pasco High School.

Eastern Washington’s recruiting class includes five defensive backs, three receivers, three defensive linemen, a tight end, an offensive lineman and linebacker and a quarterback.

EWU, which has traditionally produced many of the Football Championship Subdivision’s top passers, has a Class of 2021 quarterback in Bethel (Washington) High senior Kekoa Visperas.

Visperas, a three-star recruit, earned first-team All-4A South Puget Sound League distinction in 2019 after passing for 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns for Bethel, which finished 8-4.

“Everything screams stardom for Kekoa,” Best said. “He’s a mild-mannered individual and lets his play do the talking. But he’s competitive and knows the challenge and legacy to play at the quarterback position here.”

The Eagles also signed receivers Isaiah Howard (Fresno, California), Josh Johnson (Los Angeles), running back Davante Smith (Ventura, California) and 6-8, 290-pound offensive lineman Shane Schwake (Eugene).

Defensive additions include defensive backs Joseph Obeto (Covina, California), Kantrell Williams (Chandler, Arizona), Armani Orange (Moreno Valley, California), Ronald Davis (Federal Way, Washington), linebacker Emilio Veater (Wellsville, Utah), defensive ends Sean Skladany (Gig Harbor, Washington) and Daniel Taumoepeau (Saratoga Springs, Utah), and defensive tackle Chad Vidican (Renton, Washington).

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