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Huskies, Ducks hot after North's McEwen

Seth McEwen is in the middle of a recruiting tug-of-war between the Universityof Washington and the University of Oregon, and the North Medford High linebackercouldn't be happier.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound McEwen has been offered a full football scholarshipby both schools, he said Friday.

McEwen will make an official visit to Oregon on Dec. 6 and then visitWashington the following weekend.

He can't sign a letter-of-intent -- the document that binds him to auniversity -- until Feb. 4.

I want to get a good feel for what both programs are all about,McEwen said.

McEwen has also been offered a full ride by Portland State and in thelast couple of weeks has been recruited by Oregon State. But he said it'svery likely he'll end up in Eugene or Seattle.

McEwen first caught the attention of the Huskies last June when he attendedtheir football camp. He excelled in virtually all of their skills testsand was named one of the top two linebackers at the camp.

Among his feats: running the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, lifting 185pounds in the bench press 25 times and turning in a 34 vertical jump.

McEwen registered similar numbers at a high school combine the previousweek at Oregon City.

I don't think there's any doubt that Seth can play at a much higherlevel, North Medford defensive coordinator Steve Turner said. He'sbig, he's fast and he plays hard.

McEwen led the Black Tornado in almost every statistical category ondefense this past season and was named the team's defensive MVP earlierthis week. However, he did not make first-team all-conference, a fact thatTurner said could be attributed to North Medford failing to make the stateplayoffs.

Other than North Medford place-kicker Jacob Hawkins, every first-teamall-star participated on a playoff team, Turner noted.

Said McEwen: It bothered me a little when it first came out, butthis (being offered a scholarship) really cushions the blow.

McEwen is highly impressed with Washington linebackers coach and recruitingcoordinator Dick Baird, whom he met at the Husky camp last summer and whohas phoned McEwen several times in recent weeks.

McEwen assured the Huskies in late September that he would end up inSeattle, but when the Ducks began making a hard push last month, he decidedto leave his options open. McEwen has driven to Eugene a couple of timeson his own to watch the Ducks play. He also attended the Portland State-Montanagame.

This is a big decision and I want to make sure I'm doing the rightthing, McEwen said.

The fact that the Huskies have had a more successful program than Oregonover the years will have no bearing on what school he chooses, he said.

McEwen wants to play linebacker in college, but he might be moved tothe defensive line. He has the frame to put on a lot more weight.

McEwen has been eating like a horse to do just that. A recent trip toBurger King saw him consume four Whoppers, a couple of orders of fries anda large drink.

It's been real tough for me to put on weight, he said.

Along with football, McEwen has been working hard in the classroom. Hepulled a 3.0 grade-point average this past term with an academic load thatincluded college prep courses.

McEwen, who plans to major in criminology in college, has been pullinghis grades up since a woeful freshman year.

He's come a long way in the classroom, said Ken Steinberg,McEwen's academic adviser. When he went to that camp in Seattle lastsummer and found out he could be a Pac-10 player, he got extra motivated.

McEwen said his older brother, John, also had an influence on his studyhabits. John McEwen, a 1993 North Medford graduate, also would likely havebeen a major-college recruit, but he didn't make the grade in the classroom.

The elder McEwen has since turned things around and is a senior at MorningsideState, a Division II school in Sioux City, Iowa. John McEwen played footballthere and is a budding star in the hammer throw.

He sat me down after my freshman year and told me to hit the books,Seth McEwen said. He told me that I could make it to the big timebut that I'd never get there if I had the same study habits that he had.

I owe a lot to my brother.

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