National Signing Day gave Paul Petrino his first major opportunity to put his imprint on the Vandal football program. He did so by signing 20 players, including a Spokane star that made national headlines in 2012.
Austin Rehkow, who kicked a 67-yard field goal during his senior year, will head to Moscow. Rehkow says he will go initially to punt, and try and earn an opportunity kicking as well.
Paul Petrino had a wish list for his 2013 recruiting class – and he had a plan for finding the talent he needed as he heads into his first season as head coach of the University of Idaho Vandals.
First was finding some linebackers and running backs to fill voids and fuel competition. Next was smothering the Northwest and selectively searching the nation to find speed, size and players from winning programs. To that end, he landed six players from Washington, four from California, two from Idaho and two from Utah.
In stretching the borders, he relied on ties from his 30 years as a college coach to find players in Florida, Missouri, Michigan and Maryland.
“We got a lot of good kids from great programs,” Petrino said.
Mixed in are three players whose fathers played for the Vandals and another one whose brother just graduated. In the legacy class are quarterback Matt Linehan (Scott), defensive lineman Zach Cable (Tom) and running back Isaiah Saunders (Walter). And you can add receiver Trent Cowan, whose brother Bobby just graduated after a record-setting career as Idaho’s punter.
“It’s exciting to me to have three former Vandals’ sons here,” Petrino said. “That’s a great deal for us right now.”
From Idaho, Petrino and Company found two lineman who are sure to make their presences known. Nick Edenfield (6-4, 280) comes from Nampa’s Columbia High School, while Brett Thompson (6-5, 318) is from Rupert’s Minico High.
In nearby Washington, Idaho landed acclaimed kicker Austin Rehkow (Central Valley, Spokane), receiver Rueben Mwehla (Bellevue High), athlete Will Schmidt (O’Dea, Seattle) and tight end/linebacker Kevin Shelton (Auburn High).
His and his staff’s forays into Florida were to find the speed that can make a difference. He believes he has it in speedsters Jordan Grabski (defensive back), Richard Montgomery (running back) and Jacob Sannon (receiver).
“To get three kids out of Florida was huge,” Petrino said. “We’ll always try to find a couple kids there every year. We’ll be looking for playmakers.”
Out of Utah are safety Desmond Banks (Cottonwood, Salt Lake City) and Tueni Luepamanu (Herriman High), who was signed for his athleticism and size.
Rounding out the list of high schoolers are cornerback Armond Hawkins from Rancho Cucamonga High and linebacker Tony Lashley, who comes from Kansas City’s Rockhurst High School.
Wednesday’s signees come primarily from the high school ranks but Petrino believes he found difference-makers in junior college transfers Dezmon Epps (returner/receiver from City College of San Francisco), Joshua McCain (quarterback from DeAnza College) and Anthony Rice (defensive line from Hartnell College).
The Vandals signed eight players during the junior college signing period from mid-December until early-January.
Here is Idaho's complete list of signees:
Desmond Banks, Safety, Cottonwood High School, Salt Lake City
Zach Cable, defensive line, Hazen High School, Renton, Wash.
Trent Cowan, receiver/punter, Union High School, Camas, Wash.
Nick Edenfield, offensive line, Columbia High School, Nampa, Idaho
Dezmon Epps, returner/receiver, Grant High School, San Francisco City College, Sacramento, Calif.
Jordan Grabski, defensive back, Southeast High School, Bradenton, Fla.
Armond Hawkins, cornerback, Rancho Cucamonga High School, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Tony Lashley, linebacker, Rockhurst High School, Kansas City, Mo.
Matt Linehan, quarterback. St. Mary's High School, Orchard Lake, Mich.
Tueni Luepamanu, athlete, Harriman High School, Harriman, Utah
Joshua McCain, quarterback, Piedmont Hills High School, DeAnza College, San Jose, Calif.
Richard Montgomery, running back, Atlantic Coast High School, Jacksonville, Fla.
Rueben Mwehla, receiver, Bellevue High School, Bellevue, Wash.
Austin Rehkow, kicker, Central Valley High School, Veradale, Wash.
Anthony Rice, defensive line, Edmondson High School, Hartnell College, Baltimore, Md.
Jacob Sannon, receiver, Southeast High School, Bradenton, Fla.
Isaiah Saunders, running back, Pleasant Grove High School, Elk Grove, Calif.
Will Schmidt, defensive line, O'Dea High School, Seattle, Wash.
Kevin Shelton, linebacker, Auburn High School, Auburn, Wash.
Brett Thompson, offensive line, Minico High School, Rupert, Idaho