The Tigard seniors sign national letters of intent

by: DAN BROOD - ZIG ZAG -- Tigard senior Ben White signed a national letter of intent to play soccer at Gonzaga. TIGARD — Last Wednesday turned out to be a pretty special day for a pair of Tigard High School seniors.

Tigard’s Ben White and Manu Rasmussen each made their college choices official as they each signed national letters of intent Feb. 5 in front of friends, family and teammates at the school.

White signed to play men’s soccer at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and Rasmussen signed to play football at the University of Montana, located in Missoula, Mont.

“This means everything to me,” Rasmussen said. “I’ve worked my whole life for this.”

“This means a lot to me,” White said after signing his letter of intent. “It will be fun, and a new experience.”

White played on the Tigard High School boys soccer varsity team as both a freshman and a sophomore. During his sophomore season, he scored seven goals in his first five matches of the season before suffering a hip flexor injury.

The past two falls, White has played with the Portland Timbers Academy team.

“That helped a lot,” White said of his experience with the Timbers Academy, adding that the academy had 10 players sign letters of intent.

Meanwhile, White says that Gonzaga turned out to be the right place for him.

“When I visited there, I thought that the campus was awesome and the coaches were amazing,” he said.

White also saw a familiar face at Gonzaga in Clark Phillips, a 2011 Tualatin High School graduate and a senior-to-be with the Bulldogs.

“I like Clark,” White said. “He gave me a tour of the school, and we hung out awhile.”

Now, White is getting ready to play at the collegiate level.

“I know I need to get stronger,” he said. “And I’ll need to stay fit.”

Gonzaga recruited White as a defender, and it sounds like the Bulldogs are looking for good things from him.

“Ben has come on very strong of late. (He’s) a good soccer player that defends well and can contribute further up the field,” Gonzaga coach Elnar Thorarinsson said in a release on the university’s Web site. “His experience with the Timbers Academy has enhanced his development and we expect that to continue.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - MONTANA BOUND -- Tigard senior Manu Rasmussen (left), with his father John Rasmussen, signed a national letter of intent to play college football at the University of Montana. The 6-foot, 180-pound Rasmussen had a standout senior football season at Tigard, as he helped the Pacific Conference champion Tigers go 12-1 on the season and reach the semifinal round of the state playoffs.

Rasmussen, a running back/defensive back, earned first-team All-Pacific Conference honors on both offense and defense as a senior. He was also tabbed the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.

In addition, Rasmussen was a first-team Class 6A All-State pick on both offense and defense this past fall.

As a Tiger senior, Rasmussen rushed for 1,963 yards and 31 touchdowns on 156 carries. He also had 12 receptions for 189 yards and two more scores. On defense, Rasmussen had an interception and six pass break-ups.

Rasmussen originally verbally committed to attend Eastern Washington University. But Montana, which had just eight football scholarships available, kept in contact with the Tigard standout.

Then, a visit to the Montana campus helped change Rasmussen’s mind.

“I fell in love with the people and the community,” he said. “I knew it was the right place.”

Rasmussen said that Montana is looking for him to play at free safety.

“I’m happy to play anywhere,” he said. “I’m going to keep grinding every day. I’m going to work hard all the time.”

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