SEATTLE – Washington lost two starting linebackers this offseason, in Ben Burr-Kirven and Tevis Bartlett.
The Huskies had to reload.
Enter Daniel Heimuli.
A four-star recruit and 247Sports’ No. 9 inside linebacker in the 2019 class, Heimuli officially inked with Washington during a National Signing Day ceremony on Wednesday. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker chose the Huskies over Oregon, Alabama, Utah and more.
Realistically, though, it was always going to be Washington. Heimuli found a home in Seattle.
The Huskies will be happy he did.
“He’s got the versatility,” 247Sports national editor Brandon Huffman told the Times last month. “He can be a true inside backer. He can blitz. He can get to the quarterback, get past his blockers. … He’s really athletic. He moves well in space. He’s sideline to sideline. He’s a running back too for his team, so he’s a two-way player, a lot like (UW early enrollee linebacker) Josh Calvert. He’s just an all-around football player.”
That was evident in last month’s Polynesian Bowl in Honolulu, when Heimuli finished with six tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack en route to earning defensive MVP honors.
“It was crazy, because one of the workers at the Polynesian Bowl walked up to me and said, ‘Daniel, can you come with me after the game?’ I was surprised,” Heimuli told The Times. “The coaches told me that I had won (MVP), and it was crazy. It was crazy.
“I couldn’t believe it. But I’m glad I could do that for my city, for my high school, for all my loved ones.”
Heimuli will find a piece of all three on the home sideline in Seattle. His teammate at Menlo-Atherton (California) High School, defensive tackle Noa Ngalu, signed with Washington in December.
They won a state title last season, and there may be more to come.
“Daniel is a brother to me,” Ngalu told The Times on Tuesday. “We’re practically family. At school, out of school, we’re always together.”
Barring any unforeseen developments, they’ll continue to be together for at least a few more football seasons. That’s good news for Washington, which added Heimuli and four-star safety Asa Turner on Wednesday to an already stacked defensive class.
Still, their most recent signee brings a unique skill set.
“He carried his team to a state championship, not taking any plays off,” Huffman said of Heimuli. “They don’t have a lot of depth on that team, so he was playing literally every snap. He’s tough. He’s got really good durability, but I think his athleticism really is remarkable.
“Because you look at him and he’s not really as thick. He’s got a frame to put on more weight, but he moves so well. You can put him in coverage against a running back, put him in coverage against a tight end, because he’s got some good length. You might even see him on occasion line up against a receiver in the slot, because he’s got the athleticism to run with those guys.”
Given Burr-Kirven and Bartlett’s departures, Heimuli may be off and running in his freshman season.
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