Due in large measure to a mutually favorable first impression, Aberdeen High School lineman Kaleb Levao is bound for small-college football power Eastern Washington University.
Levao signed a latter of intent Wednesday night with Eastern. The AHS senior will receive a full-ride scholarship from the Cheney school.
A two-way starter for the Bobcats, the 6-foot-3, 292-pound Levao earned all-Greater St. Helens 2A League honors as an offensive lineman last year. He is, however, projected as a defensive tackle for Eastern — a plan that suits Levao, who received all-league defensive recognition as a junior.
“I’d love to play college defense,” he said Thursday.
Levao first met Eastern coaches at the Northwest Elite Combine last summer in Mercer Island. But it was his performance in Eastern’s camp later in the summer that put the Bobcat lineman on the Eagles’ radar. Eastern coaches later scouted Aberdeen games against Montesano and Washougal last fall.
“Kaleb blew us away at summer camp with how big and raw he was, but still (was) light on his feet,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said in a press release. “Because of the way he played the game at almost 300 pounds and his ability to get in and out of his stance, we think the sky is the limit for him.
“He has a lot of room to grow because he’s so raw in his technique and how he plays the game,” Baldwin added. “He will be a great presence in the middle of our defense.”
Although he subsequently received a scholarship offer from the University of Montana, Levao was similarly impressed with Eastern’s football program and campus atmosphere.
“I wanted to stay in Washington…(Eastern) is far enough from here you can say you’re going to college,” he said. “It’s a small-town atmosphere, but it’s still a four-year university.”
Although he is undecided on a career choice, Levao said he would probably focus on some type of business major.
Eastern Washington traditionally ranks among the top teams in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Last year, the Eagles opened the season with a stunning upset of eventual Hawaii Bowl winner Oregon State and later advanced to the national FCS semifinals for the third time in the past four seasons.