MOSCOW, Idaho -- It's National Letter of Intent Signing Day and University of Idaho head football coach Robb Akey has announced this year's recruiting class. There are 23 new members of the Vandal football team. Here is a list of the recruits, followed by their bios.
Trae Armstrong RB 5-7 180 Deer Valley High School Glendale, Ariz.
James Baker * RB 6-2 220 Independence Community College/Boca Raton HS Deerfield, Fla.
Chad Chalich QB 6-0 180 Coeur d’Alene High School Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Austin DeCoud QB 6-3 220 Redlands East Valley High School Redlands, Calif.
Jace Johnson K 6-0 190 Eagle High School Eagle, Idaho
Jayshawn Jordan CB 5-9 170 O’Dea High School Seattle, Wash.
Eric Lemke TE 6-4 225 Issaquah High School Issaquah, Wash.
Najee Lovett * WR 5-9 160 Contra Costa College/St. Mary’s High School Berkeley, Calif.
Ma`ne Manaea S 5-11 175 Lakes High School Lakewood, Wash.
Matthew Neal DT 6-3 275 Merrillville High School Merrillville, Ind.
Kyree Oliver OL 6-5 292 Heritage High School Brentwood, Calif.
Addison Palomino LB 6-3 205 Pinnacle High School Phoenix, Ariz.
Antonio Perez DE 6-2 225 Sheldon High School Elk Grove, Calif.
Elijah Sala LB 6-3 220 LA Harbor College/Banning High School Wilmington, Calif.
Russell Siavii LB 6-2 170 Leilehua High School Wahiawa, Hawai`i
Toapasi Toki DT 6-1 306 Chabot Junior College/Kaelekehe High School Kaelekehe, Hawai`
Semisi Tupou OL 6-4 380 East Central CC/Cerritos Junior College/Orange High School Long Beach, Calif.
Niklaus Von Rotz * OL 6-5 302 Butte Community College/Chico High School Chico, Calif.
Deon Watson Ath 6-3 210 Coeur d’Alene High School Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Kyren Watts WR 6-2 174 College of the Siskiyous/New Waverly High School New Waverly, Texas
Matthew Willis LB 6-0 225 Los Angeles Harbor/Palos Verdes High School Palos Verdes, Calif.
Andrew Williams S 6-0 175 Cosumnes Oaks High School Elk Grove, Calif.
Mason Woods OL 6-8 320 Terry Fox Secondary Port Coquitlam, B.C.
*signed in January
Deer Valley High School, Glendale, Ariz.
Said Coach Akey: We’re really excited about Trae. He brings great speed to our football team. He’s capable of hitting home runs. He’ll have a chance to play football and run track here at the University of Idaho. He’s a first-class kid.
As a high school senior, rushed for 1,794 yards and 23 touchdowns … had four games of more than 200 rushing yards – 252 vs. Millennium, 229 vs. Ironwood, 220 vs. Bradshaw Mountain and 216 vs. Horizon … scored four TDs vs. Bradshaw Mountain and four times had three-TD games … as a junior, carried the ball 1,521 yards and 18 touchdowns, and was the state champion in the 100, 200 and 400 meters … personal best of 10.3 in the 100 meters … was the NW Region Boys Athlete of the Year in track.
Coeur d’Alene High School, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Said Coach Akey: Chad’s a winner. He’s a great competitor. He’s a two-time state champion quarterback. We’re very excited to have the best quarterback in the state of Idaho in our football program. We’re very excited about his future.
Two-year starter … 5A Idaho Player of the Year as a junior and as a senior and as a junior … was the 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year … his other accomplishments include first-team all-conference quarterback as a junior and senior; Offensive Player of the Year for the Inland Empire League as a junior and senior; IEL Most Valuable Player as a junior and senior; ranked 13th nationally as a high school quarterback as a senior; led Coeur d’Alene to No. 29 national ranking as a senior; third-team ESPN RISE Junior All-American as a junior; threw for 6,485 yards and 74 touchdowns, and broke 13 school records … as a senior, completed 242 of 331 passes (73 percent) of his passes, while as a junior hit 61 percent (209 of 342) of his throws … threw just two interceptions as a senior.
Austin DeCoud (pronounced D-coo)
Redlands East Valley High School, Redlands, Calif.
Said Coach Akey: Austin is a big, strong quarterback. He’s another in a line of great players from Redlands East Valley to become a Vandal. We have great plans for his future.
As a senior, directed Redlands East Valley to an 11-1 record after throwing for 1,378 yards and rushing for another 403 … completed 112 of 218 passes with 14 going for touchdowns … team captain ... as a junior (when he was 15), completed 85 of 157 passes for 887 yards and five touchdowns in addition to rushing for 271 yards … team was 8-3 during his junior season … Citrus League first-team quarterback … played in Inland Empire all-Star Classic ... was invited to the Elite 11 all three years in high school ... basketball MVP as a freshman and sophomore ... scholar-athlete.
Eagle High School, Eagle, Idaho
Said Coach Akey: Jace is a strong-legged kicker. He has great distance on both his kickoffs and his field goals. He’s very accurate. He’s a great kid and we’re very excited to have another in-state player come play for the Vandals.
All-Idaho first team 5A kicker ... 2011 Coaches' Award for football ... kicker and receiver in 2011 Idaho All-Star Shrine game ... 2011 5A Southern Idaho Conference first team kicker ... Academic Award (2011) ... all-game receiver at Nevada camp ... as a junior, 5A all-state kicker and all-SIC first team kicker ... four-year varsity letterwinner ... played for 5A runner-up (2011) and 5A state champion (2009) ... as a senior, 88 percent of kickoffs were touchbacks ... successful on 57 of 58 PATs and nine of 11 field goals with a long of 42 ... as a junior, 41 of 49 kickoffs were touchbacks and was successful on three of five field goals with a long of 47 ... made 35 of 38 PATs ... Said his coach, Paul Peterson, “We all know Jace has been blessed with a terrific leg, great determination and a high level of confidence. I think he has the characteristics that bode well for having a successful kicking career.”
O’Dea High School, Seattle, Wash.
Said Coach Akey: He’s a great cover guy. He’s a tremendous player with tremendous speed and great cover skills.”
Three-year starter at O’Dea … Defensive Most Valuable Player at Northwest Elite Football Camp … Metro League Mountain Division Player of the Year … first team all-state by the Associated Press and the Tacoma News Tribune … O’Dea was 13-1 during his senior season ... team captain … as a senior, had 64 tackles, three interceptions and seven knockdowns on defense and had covered 1,036 yards and scored eight touchdowns on offense ... as a junior, had 43 tackles, four interceptions ... as a sophomore, had 64 tackles (23 solo) ... uncle Jeff Jordan played for the Vandals and is tied for sixth all-time on Idaho’s career pass deflections list.
Eric Lemke (pronounced LEM-key)
Issaquah High School, Issaquah, Wash.
Said Coach Akey: “Eric is one of the top tight ends in the Northwest. He’s what you look for in a tight end – he can run, he can block and he can catch. He has a great future. He’s going to continue to make the tight end a strong part of our offense.”
Played tight end and defensive end … team captain … first-team all-KingCo tight end and defensive end … ESPNHS first-team defense … as a sophomore, earned Student Achievement Award for English … volunteers in Athletes for Kids program … earned RISING STAR award at Washington State summer camp in 2009 … also started for Issaquah basketball team at center … said Lemke, “I really liked the Played tight end and defensive end … team captain … first-team all-KingCo tight end and defensive end … had 30 receptions for 350 yards and three touchdowns ... had 110 tackles and 13 sacks during his high school career ... ESPNHS first-team defense … as a sophomore, earned Student Achievement Award for English … volunteers in Athletes for Kids program … earned RISING STAR award at Washington State summer camp in 2009 … also started for Issaquah basketball team at center … said Lemke, “I really liked the campus and everything. I liked the players I got to know and the coaches. I feel like I can go there and make an impact. … One thing I like about Idaho is the fact that their tight end coach (Al Pupunu) played in the NFL. That’s cool.”
Ma`ne Manaea (pronounced MA-nay MA-nay-ah)
Lakes High School, Lakewood, Wash.
Said Coach Akey: “He’s a hard-hitting safety – and I emphasize hard hitting. He’s a fly-around guy. He brings great ability and a great hitting ability to our secondary. He’s a tremendous player – one of the top players in the Northwest.”
South Puget Sound League Player of the Year as well as SPSL first-team defense, first-team offense and first-team kick returner … Seattle Times Red Chip player … Oregon/Washington Dream Team … played in Polynesian all-star game (Tanoa Bowl) as a junior … Tacoma News Tribune Player of the Year … as a senior, had 42 tackles and four interceptions as well as 34 receptions for 555 yards and seven touchdowns, eight carries for 192 rushing yards and two touchdowns, 26 punt returns for 283 yards, two kickoff returns for 35 yards and punted nine times … as a junior, only played in four games because of injury but had 19 tackles, six carries for 116 yards and 14 receptions for 154 yards … said coach Dave Miller, “He’s probably one of the most complete players we’ve had.” … said rival coach Chad Barrett of Bonney Lake, “He even gets out there and blocks downfield like a lineman. He could play any position on the field and he’s succeed because that’s how hard he works.”
Merrillville High School, Merrillville, Ind.
Said Coach Akey: Matt is a good-sized kid. He’s a very good defensive lineman – he changes direction very well, can play the run and get after the quarterback. He’s a great kid and a very good player.”
Captain of the North-South all-star team … recipient of the Ralph Everman Award, which goes to the player who shows the greatest leadership and citizenship throughout all-star week … as a senior, had 70 tackles, three tackles for loss and three pass breakups … earned all-area and all-conference honors as well as honorable mention all-state recognition … team captain ... helped team to 8-3 record and state playoff berth … as a junior he was all-area and honorable mention all-conference after Merrillville went 12-2 and advanced to the state semifinals … had 149 career tackles and 13 career tackles for loss … brother Michael Neal Jr., plays for Green Bay … father Michael Neal Sr., played at Weber State.
Kyree Oliver (pronounced KI ree)
Heritage High School, Brentwood, Calif.
Said Coach Akey: Kyree is a young offensive lineman with good size. He’s a very good player and will be a great part of the future of our offensive line.
Played in California all-star game as a senior … started one season at defensive tackle … described as having an “impressive frame” and “has the size and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition.” … said Oliver, “I felt like I fit in really well (at Idaho).”
Pinnacle High School, Phoenix, Ariz.
Said Coach Akey: “Addison is a linebacker who can run. He makes a lot of plays. He’s a tremendous player and a great kid. We’re glad to have him with us.”
As a senior, had 86 tackles (20 of which were for losses) and 12 sacks … East Valley Tribune first-team defense … Coaches’ all-state selection … Section III North Player of the Year … Arizona Football Coaches Association first-team Division I defense … as a junior, had 41 tackles and seven sacks … said Palomino, “(Idaho) was one of the first teams that showed interest in me. That led to a great relationship with the coaches. I really like it (at Idaho). It is something different than what I’m used to here in Arizona.”
Sheldon High School, Elk Grove, Calif.
Said Coach Akey: Antonio has a good burst and a good ability to bring down quarterbacks. I expect him to help our pass rush in the coming years.
As a senior, had 50 tackles and seven tackles, which totaled -51 yards … as a junior, had 12 tackles and one sack … also runs track … second-team all-Delta River and East Bay Holiday Classic all-star team … two-time scholar-athlete ... graduating with honors ... said Perez, “I really liked the college town feel of Moscow and Idaho has an amazing business school. And being from California, I love that it snows out there. I chose Idaho because it just felt like a great fit.”
Elijah Sala (pronounced SAW-la)
LA Harbor College, Banning High School, Wilmington, Calif.
Said Coach Akey: Elijah is an outside linebacker, who can run and hit. When he gets on campus, he should be able to compete for a position.”
At LA Harbor, set a school record with an 89-yard interception return … as a sophomore at LA Harbor, had 42 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, five interceptions, seven passes defensed, four quarterback hurries and a 35-yard fumble recovery return as well as one forced fumble … as a freshman at LA Harbor, had 54 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions … was first-team all-California defense in 2011 and first team Central West in 2010 … as a high school safety, was first-team all-Marine League … had 60 tackles and two interceptions ... also played volleyball.
Russell Siavii (pronounced SEE-ah-vee-e)
Leilehua High School, Wahiawa, Hawai`i
Said Coach Akey: We know he has great bloodlines (Russell is the younger brother of Vandal senior linebacker Robert Siavii). He plays outside linebacker but he can play safety as well. He can run andhe can hit. He’s going to be a great outside linebacker.
As a senior, he was a first-team all-state safety as well as first-team Oahu Red West defense and a HiFive Athlete of the Week … in one game, he had four interceptions … also plays basketball … as a junior, was an Oahu Red honorable mention selection … when older brother Robert signed with the Vandals he said, “I’d like to follow his footsteps.”
Toapasi Toki (pronounced TOE-ah-pass-e [Pasi] TOE-key)
Chabot Junior College, Kaelekehe High School, Kaelekehe, Hawai`i
Said Coach Akey: “Pasi is a defensive tackle who should come in and fight for a spot right away. He has a great get-off and good size. He should be able to help take care of the interior of our line.”
Helped Chabot to the conference championship … in high school, Kaelekehe won the divisional championship … All BIIF team as a senior offensive lineman at Kaelekehe. Helped Chabot to the conference championship … in high school, Kaelekehe won the divisional championship … All BIIF team as a senior offensive lineman at Kaelekehe ... all-conference selection.
Semisi Tupou (pronounced SEM-e-see TWO-poe)
6-4, 380 pounds
East Central Community College, Cerritos Junior College, Orange High School, Long Beach, Calif.
Said Coach Akey: “With his size, I expect him to come in and compete right away. He has shown he can help run the ball and protect the quarterback.”
Was an all-conference lineman as a freshman at Cerritos … moved to nose tackle at East Central (Decatur, Miss.) and had 29 tackles and two sacks … played offensive and defensive line at Orange High School … also played basketball, wrestled and competed in track and field ... first team all-conference selection ... team captain.
Coeur d’Alene High School, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Said Coach Akey: “Deon is a tremendous athlete. We recruited him as an athlete – he can play tight end or defensive end. We’re going to see what spot fits him best. He’s going to be able to play basketball, too. His daddy (Deon) was a tremendous basketball player here.”
First-team all-state receiver and second-team all-state as a defensive end as senior … first-team Inland Empire receiver as a senior … during senior season, caught 54 passes for 931 yards and 13 touchdowns … averaged 17.2 yards per catch … set Coeur d’Alene records for career receptions (93), receiving yards (1,513) and touchdowns (19) … defensively in two seasons, had 23 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks … father, Deon, is Idaho’s career rebounding record holder and still ranks second in career blocked shots.
Kyren Watts (pronounced KI-ren)
College of the Siskiyous, New Waverly High School, New Waverly, Texas
Said Coach Akey: “We expect him to come in here and be fighting for a job. We’re excited about him. We’re going to challenge him to make plays this fall.”
As a sophomore at College of the Siskiyous, had 40 receptions for 700 yards and nine touchdowns … also played one season at Kilgore College … in high school, was the wide receiver MVP a the National Underclassmen.com Showcase … was a first-team Mid Empire Conference choice and an EA Sports Elite Camp attendee … as a freshman, already was considered one of the top receivers in Texas … also played basketball and baseball in high school and played in the HABCA All-Star game in 2010.
LA Harbor, Palos Verdes High School, Palos Verdes, Calif.
Said Coach Akey: Matt is a very physical player who makes tons of plays. He’s very highly regarded. He should help our depth there immediately.
Attended the Air Force Academy before transferring to LA Harbor … Defensive Player of the Year for the Central West Conference … had 122 tackles, seven sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss, one interception and three forced fumbles ... doubled on offense with 137 rusing yards and 20 receiving yards … as a senior at Palos Verdes, had 142 tackles, 23.5 for tackles for loss, seven sacks, one fumble recovery and 11 forced fumbles … played in the Lions Senior All-Star game ... All-American.
Cosumnes Oaks High School, Elk Grove, Calif.
Said Coach Akey: “Andrew was the first commit to this class. I’m very excited to have him with us. He can run – he has great cover ability.”
Two-year starter at Cosumnes Oaks … also played quarterback in high school … team captain ... 174 carries for 1,042 yards and 12 touchdowns ... set a school single-game rushing record with 230 yards against Vista del Lago … also scored three touchdowns in that game … all-Sierra Valley selection … Conference Player of the Week after throwing for 51 yards and rushing for 104 in season-opening victory over Yuba City … said his high school coach Ryan Gomes, “He can play three or four different positions on both sides of the ball.”
Terry Fox Secondary, Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Said Coach Akey: “Mason has a great future. We can’t wait to get him in our weight room and into American football.”
Played football at Terry Fox Secondary in British Columbia ... team captain and all-state selection ... had 30 tackles and eight sacks ... also played lacrosse and basketball as well as three years for the Langley Minor Football club team.