It didn’t take long for Jayden Limar to break the Lake Stevens High School football program’s vertical jump record.
In fact, he wasn’t even in high school when he set the mark.
During the spring prior to his freshman year, Limar leaped an astounding 40.5 inches at the Vikings’ annual combine event. It was the first time since Lake Stevens began measuring vertical jumps in 2006 that any player in the powerhouse program had topped 40 inches.
To put that in perspective: As an eighth grader, Limar would’ve tied for the eighth-highest vertical jump at that year’s NFL combine.
“We knew right away like, OK, those are pretty special talents,” longtime Vikings coach Tom Tri said.
That feat two years ago provided a snapshot of the jaw-dropping athleticism that’s made the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Limar such a highly touted running back.
According to 247Sports, Limar is ranked as the No. 6 overall high school football recruit in Washington state in the class of 2023. He’s also nationally ranked in his class as the No. 7 running back and the No. 199 overall recruit.
Midway through his prep career, the four-star tailback already has scholarship offers from big-time college football programs such as Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and Washington.
“He has a combination of speed, power and athleticism that’s very rare,” Tri said. “… If he was a baseball player, you’d call him a five-tool (prospect). He’s got five-tool talent in football.”
Much of Limar’s athletic prowess undoubtedly comes from his genes. His father, Reggie, was an Everett High School basketball standout who helped lead the Seagulls to a seventh-place finish in the 2000 Class 3A state tournament. And his mother, Linnie, played soccer for Snohomish High School.
Limar earned some snaps as a freshman in 2019, behind star running back Dallas Landeros and backup Camdyn Hanks in a crowded Lake Stevens backfield. He then burst onto the scene this past spring, showcasing his talent with an impressive sophomore campaign during the abbreviated season.
Limar totaled 646 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns during the five-game slate, while averaging a whopping 11.7 yards per carry. And that was despite getting just eight offensive touches over the first two games.
After taking over as the primary back in Week 3, Limar amassed 520 yards from scrimmage and nine total touchdowns over the final three contests against Snohomish, Marysville Pilchuck and Glacier Peak.
That included a massive performance in the season finale, when Limar scored five touchdowns to lead the Vikings to a runaway 63-35 win over Glacier Peak in a showdown of unbeatens. He returned the opening kickoff for a 98-yard score and added 164 yards from scrimmage and four rushing touchdowns.
“He’s like an unstoppable force,” Lake Stevens senior quarterback Grayson Murren said.
And despite it being such a short season, Limar’s wide-ranging skill set was on full display this spring.
He made defenders miss with ankle-breaking elusiveness. He churned out extra yardage with tackle-breaking strength and physicality. He burned defenses with great vision and cutback ability. He provided an added dimension as a receiving threat, with sharp route running and reliable pass catching. And in the open field, he left defenders in the dust with his breakaway 4.46-second 40-yard-dash speed.
“It’s pretty rare to get a combination of all the different skills that he has and be really, really good at all of them,” Tri said. “That’s what makes him special.”
Limar also excels on defense, where he played linebacker this spring and received first-team All-Wesco 4A honors.
“He was one of the best edge defenders we’ve had, and he was a sophomore who hadn’t even played the position (before),” Tri said. “… Him and (defensive back) Drew Carter were really the difference makers last year with our defense.”
Although the Vikings are best known for their steady stream of standout quarterbacks, Limar is the latest in a strong collection of running backs that have come through the Lake Stevens program in recent years.
Austin Otis nearly had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2012 and 2013. Andrew Grimes posted back-to-back 1,600-yard campaigns in 2014 and 2015. Blake May topped 1,500 yards in 2016. Tom Lewis and Kayshawn Mounarath combined for more than 1,500 yards in 2017. Dallas Landeros surpassed 1,300 yards in 2018 and was The Herald’s offensive player of the year after eclipsing 1,600 yards in 2019.
Now, it’s Limar’s turn.
And though Limar has only started a few games in his young prep career, Tri admitted he’s never had a running back like him.
“He is the most talented back that Lake Stevens has ever had,” Tri said.
After all, not many high schoolers get to shake hands with legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Following the spring season, the big-time college offers started pouring in for Limar. And he spent part of his summer visiting a number of major programs, including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State and Texas A&M.
That meant meeting some of the sport’s most famous coaches — including Saban, who has won six national titles and is widely regarded as the greatest coach in college football history.
“Growing up, you always hear the big names and everything,” Limar said. “And then you shake their hand and you hear them say your name and you’re like, ‘Wow.’ Like, it’s kind of crazy realizing that you’re meeting the people you always hear about on TV and everything.”
Limar said he’s planning to take some recruiting visits this fall. But aside from that, he said his focus is on helping lead the perennial state powerhouse Vikings to another successful season.
“I’m just trying to stay humble and just play the game (and) focus on my high school team right now,” he said. “And we’ll see what happens after the season with offers and all that.”
Limar is one of several talented skill-position players on what should be another explosive offense for Lake Stevens, which averaged more than 42 points per game in each of the past seven seasons.
Carter, a three-star senior recruit with offers from Air Force and Eastern Washington, is a big, physical and athletic target at receiver. Speedy senior Trayce Hanks, who moved from running back to slot receiver, is primed for a breakout year.
And then there’s the 6-foot-5 Murren. He’s taking the reins at quarterback this fall after spending the past two seasons backing up standout Tanner Jellison, who is now on the University of San Diego roster.
“Grayson was probably the second-most talented quarterback in Wesco last year,” Tri said. “It just so happened that he played behind Tanner. … He can run the ball, he’s athletic, he’s got good accuracy. He should be playing on Saturdays somewhere.”
The Vikings, who won the prestigious Lakewood 7-on-7 passing tournament this summer, will have to wait a few weeks to kick off their season. As a result of COVID-19 cases in its program, Lake Stevens suspended team activities until Sept. 4 and canceled its first two games.
But when the Vikings finally take the field this fall, they’re expected to feature another high-powered offense that should once again put them in the mix for a deep playoff run.
“I think our offense is capable of taking this team to state and giving it a run, for sure,” Murren said. “We have all the talent. We have all the pieces.”