Glacier Peak standout two-way lineman Ma’ake Fifita signed his national letter of intent Wednesday morning to play football at Washington State University.
Fifita, who excelled at left tackle and defensive end for the Grizzlies this past season, is listed by 247Sports as a three-star defensive end and the 26th-overall senior recruit in the state. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound recruit said Washington State plans to use him as an offensive lineman.
“It’s just a great opportunity that was presented to me, and I’m really grateful for it,” Fifita said Tuesday. “It means a lot to be able to go to such a good program. … It’s a big opportunity to play in the Pac-12. I’m looking forward to putting in a lot of work and effort to be the best that I can.”
— Glacier Peak HS Football (@GPGrizzFootball) December 19, 2018
Fifita is the only known local player planning to sign during this year’s early signing period for football, which began Wednesday and runs through Friday. Seniors also have the option of waiting until the Feb. 6 signing date. ESPN director of recruiting Tom Luginbill told The Associated Press that 72 percent of last year’s recruiting class signed in December rather than February.
Fifita received a scholarship offer from Washington State this past offseason and committed to the Cougars last month.
“It just felt right being there,” he said. “The program is pretty similar to what Glacier Peak has been doing.”
“It’s a really similar offense to what we run, (and has the) same character-building development stuff that we do,” Grizzlies coach Nick Bender added. “It’s kind of like the college version of Glacier Peak.”
— WSU Cougar Football (@WSUCougFB) December 19, 2018
Fifita wasn’t listed by 247Sports as one of the state’s top 100 senior recruits this past August, but rocketed up the rankings during the season.
“I think (Washington State is) getting one of the best-kept secrets in the Northwest,” Bender said. “While every other kid is hooked to social media and constantly involved in that, he’s not done any of it. A lot of today’s recruiting is social media-driven, and so he was kind of a well-kept secret. And as soon as he started to catch some peoples’ eyes, he kind of blew up a little bit behind the scenes.”
Fifita was a first-team All-Wesco 4A selection on both sides of the line this season. He anchored Glacier Peak’s offensive line and posted 58 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and one forced fumble on defense.
Bender said what stands out about Fifita is his unique combination of speed, size and strength. This past spring, Fifita power-cleaned 325 pounds, a feat Bender said was “beyond impressive.”
“His athleticism for an offensive lineman is kind of unparalleled,” Bender said. “I mean, the kid can still get up and dunk a basketball. … His foot and hand speed is second to none, (and he has) long leverage.”
Fifita said he plans to study electrical engineering at Washington State.
“The kid is wicked smart, and I think that makes a big difference,” Bender said. “The defense can line up in every formation known to man, and that can change the (blocking scheme) an untold number of times. And he’s able to figure a lot of that stuff out within a matter of seconds.”
Bender also praised Fifita’s character and work ethic.
“(Washington State is) getting an extremely driven kid who will run through a wall for whatever program he’s a part of,” he said.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this article.