Lynden defensive end Bryce Sterk’s rise to becoming arguably Whatcom County’s top football player was as intense as the senior’s whirlwind last month of being courted by different universities.
Sterk has developed into one of the Northwest Conference’s most feared athletes, and two years ago, Lions coach Curt Kramme couldn’t predict he would be a future all-state player.
On national signing day Wednesday, Feb. 4, the first time prep football players can cement where they’ll be playing college ball, Sterk ended his recruiting process by declaring himself a University of Washington Husky.
“It feels great to finally sign the papers and get it done and secure the next four or five years and know where I’m going to be in that time,” said Sterk, who, fitted in UW purple, was joined by his family during a signing ceremony at Lynden High School.”
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Other county football stars signing letters of intent Wednesday included Squalicum quarterback Christian Jorgensen, who committed to play at Division I Eastern Washington University, Lynden defensive back Lucas Petersen, who committed to Central Washington University, and Sehome lineman Tyler Haggen, who also committed to CWU.
Sterk was one of 25 UW recruits and part of a class ranking 28th in the nation by ESPN.
He received offers from Eastern Washington University and Wyoming and was set to take a recruiting visit to the University of Oregon before verbally committing to Washington during a January visit to Seattle.
The Class 2A/3A NWC MVP took plenty into account before deciding on UW.
“There is a lot of factors to that, but I would say just how coach (Chris) Petersen is, how he is up front and honest,” Sterk said. “He’ll tell you the truth if it’s good or bad. He’ll make sure you know what is going on. ... There is a lot I’m looking forward to, but the most is just starting to play football, start playing football at UW and take it to the next level.”
Sterk, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 230 pounds, logged 91 solo tackles and 10 sacks while guiding the Lions to the Class 2A state championship. Besides the league MVP honor, he was a first-team all-state selection as both an offensive and defensive lineman. He also finished sixth in the 300 hurdles during last year’s state championships, running the race in 39.97 seconds.
His rare blend of speed, strength and athleticism has Petersen excited to see what type of player he can become. Sterk said UW’s coaches anticipate him at outside linebacker or a Buck position, which is a defensive end/linebacker hybrid, where he’ll rush the passer more than drop into coverage.
“I can’t tell you how much tape we looked at of him,” Petersen said in a press conference recorded by the Seattle Times. “Getting around him a little bit more, it was very quick to figure that out. He’s a really good person. Comes from a great family and all those things. ... But I’m as excited about this guy as anyone. He’s 6-4 and 230 right now and he’s a track guy that can run, and that kind of shows up on tape. Really excited to see what his development can be all about.”
Along with Sterk, Jorgensen’s signing with Division I FCS EWU gave Whatcom County two D-I football signings.
Jorgensen, who starred his senior year under center at Squalicum, received interest from several schools but ultimately choose Eastern over Washington State.
“The whole recruiting process is something you dream about since your childhood,” Jorgensen said in a phone interview. “It’s been great. Just to have the opportunity to play D-I football is a huge blessing.”
Jorgensen had been in contact with Eastern since the start of his junior year and the relationship he established with the coaches combined the environment and the winning tradition ultimately helped the Storm QB make his choice.
The Eagles, who have reached at least the national playoffs quarterfinals each of the past four years and won a national title in 2010, are getting a quarterback who threw for 2,851 yards, 33 touchdowns and led Squalicum to its first ever state playoff this past fall.
Jorgensen was the only quarterback in Eastern’s recruiting class, placing high expectations on the incoming freshman. But competition, Jorgensen said, is something he’s looking forward to.
“I get to be that guy for the incoming freshmen class, and it’s a cool position,” Jorgensen said. “With a great program there will be competition. They want me to come in and work super hard and work with everyone else out there, and they will play the best guy. It’s up to me to compete, and that’s my role.”
During Jorgensen’s recruiting trip he learned much of the terminology and offensive scheme coach Nick Lucy implemented at Squalicum is embedded into the fabric of EWU’s offense, which Jorgensen said should help massage the transition to college ball.
Whatcom County’s two other football recruits Wednesday, Haggen and Petersen, will be heading to Ellensburg next fall to play football at Central Washington.
The two went on the same recruiting trip and both saw promise in committing to the Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference school.
“It’s a relief knowing that I’m officially signed, and it’s something I’m going to look forward to up until the point I get there,” said Petersen, who donned a CWU hoodie with his family accompanying him at Lynden High. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was little, going to college and playing football. There is nothing better than that.”
Petersen established himself as a tremendous defensive back during his career with the Lions, and he said coaches at Central expect him to play free safety. Petersen chose CWU over Simon Fraser, Western Oregon and a handful of Division III schools.
Haggen has been a fixture along Sehome’s line his entire varsity career, and signing his letter of intent Wednesday capped what has been a lifelong goal.
“Playing college football is something I have been working for forever,” he said in a phone interview. “I finally figured it out, and knowing for sure the school for me is really exciting.”
Haggen at CWU is expected to play along the interior offensive line. At Sehome he was part of a powerful, massive offense front regarded as one of the best in the NWC.