Whatcom County’s top high school football student athletes signed their national letters of intent Wednesday, the first day of the new three-day early signing period.
Meridian quarterback Simon Burkett committed to Eastern Washington University on July 29 and finally made it official. In his senior season, Burkett was named MVP of the 1A Northwest Conference, throwing for 3,868 yards, 45 touchdowns and running for a team-high 623 yards and 12 more TDs.
He also led Meridian to the state championship game this fall, passing for 305 yards and two touchdowns and running for two more scores in the Trojans’ 33-27 loss to top-ranked Royal.
“He’s a dual-threat quarterback who can pass when needed and extend plays when needed,” Eastern coach Aaron Best said. “He’s long, and will be good in our running game and our run-pass option schemes. He willed his team to the state championship game and played for legendary coach Bob Ames, so we’re excited to see Simon in an Eagle uniform.”
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Burkett finished his high school career with 7,658 yards and 79 touchdowns passing, and 1,564 yards and 29 touchdowns rushing in 34 games played. He completed 56.9 percent of his passes (527-of-927) with 30 interceptions, and also caught four passes for 38 yards. His career yardage total is a league record. He served as a team captain as a senior, junior and sophomore.
His 1A rival, Nooksack Valley’s Casey Bauman, signed with Montana State University after announcing his commitment July 17. The 6-foot-5, 210 pound quarterback threw for 2,914 yards with 27 touchdowns and three interceptions, to go along with 15 rushing touchdowns, as he led the Pioneers to the first round of the state tournament.
“Casey is a tremendous athlete from Nooksack Valley who came to our one-day camp and was a star,” Montana State coach Jeff Choate said. “He walked out of here with an offer that day. You might look at his size and think he’s a conventional drop-back quarterback, but he’s a very good athlete. He averages 25 points a game in basketball and was a very good defensive player for his team also.
“He’s a high, high character young man from an outstanding family and I’m extremely excited about his future in our program,” Choate said.
Bauman threw for 7,437 yards with 65 touchdown passes and 26 more on the ground in his career, breaking all of Nooksack’s passing records. He also was a two-time first team all-conference choice.
Joining Bauman at MSU is Bryce Sterk, a former Lynden standout who is transferring from the University of Washington. Sterk redshirted at UW in 2015 and played in two games at defensive end in 2016, but saw no game action for the Huskies in 2017. He was the 2014 Northwest Conference MVP as a senior at Lynden, earning unanimous first-team all-league honors on the offensive and defensive lines. Sterk had 147 tackles and 10 sacks as a senior, helping Lynden to a 12-2 record, a league title, and a berth in the 2A state title game.
“I was involved in the recruiting process for Bryce at the University of Washington, and he’s a 6-foot-5, 250-pound guy who brings value as a rush end and will be good against the run,” Choate said. “He’s a good student from a good family, a high-character young man who is looking for the opportunity to make more of an impact on the field. I think Montana State fits him very well and he fills a need for us on the defensive line.”
College football’s traditional National Signing Day for incoming freshmen remains the first Wednesday in February, but the NCAA’s added a three-day period in mid-December as well. Wednesday was the first day of the early signing period.