LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- When Adam Fermstad first joined the Lynnwood (Wash.) coaching staff in 2011, he didn’t know anything about Andrew Basham.
He had yet to see the 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive lineman play a single snap.
Then he watched video.
Mike Don, who was the Royals’ head coach at the time, sat him down and flipped on the film.
“This is our guy,” Don said. “This is how good he is.”
It was a clip from Basham’s sophomore season. That was enough for Fermstad.
“There were times when he was driving guys back 10 yards into the ground like it was nothing,” said Fermstad, 24, who was hired as the team’s head coach in May. “It looked effortless.”
After watching Basham on the field for a full season, Fermstad’s first impression hasn’t changed.
“There aren’t many guys of his caliber that you see live,” Fermstad said. “When you do, it just blows you away.”
Basham first found the game as a 4-year-old when his father, Ronald, signed him up for flag football. Once he started, he “didn’t stop.”
“I kept him really busy,” Ronald said. “When he was a little kid, he wouldn’t go inside until he learned a three-point stance.”
Basham spent a few years swimming and wrestling -- he even won a state championship in the shot put this spring with a throw of 55 feet, 7 inches -- but it was all conditioning for football.
“I hated swimming,” said Basham, wearing a black T-shirt with Washington Huskies printed in white across the front. “But it helped so much.”
As he got older, he hit a growth spurt. He moved from tight end and safety to the offensive and defensive line. He always had a passion for playing, but it wasn’t until one of his high-school coaches told him he was good enough to compete in college that he realized he could continue playing after his senior season.
“I just liked to play,” Basham said.
About midway through his junior year, the Lynnwood coaching staff decided to move Basham to middle linebacker. At the time, Fermstad wasn’t sure the move would work. That changed when he watched Basham pick off a pass, beat an opposing offense down the field and score a touchdown.
“For his size, his speed is just insane,” Fermstad said.
In another game, Basham blocked an extra point to seal a one-point win.
“He’s always stood out above the whole crowd, and he’s dedicated,” Ronald said.
While he always worked hard on the football field, Ronald said his son didn’t take school seriously as a freshman. However, now that he has committed to the Huskies, he is committed in the classroom.
“That’s all I’ve done, so it’s pretty important for me to get to the Huskies,” Basham said. “I don’t think I’ve done anything else besides school and working out.”
In addition to conditioning and weight training, Basham attends summer school five days a week. He spends three hours in the classroom, while his friends sleep in.
“He’s really just kind of buried his head in the books,” Fermstad said. “He’s doing exactly what he needs to do. There are no complaints that I’ve heard. It’s just, this is what needs to happen and I’m just going to get it done.”
Ronald added, “Now he is seeing the opportunities he has, so he’s going back and fixing it by going to summer school. He’s fixing the stuff he messed up on his freshman year. He’s 100 percent completely changed around with his school work.”
During the recruiting process, Basham said he liked the way Washington defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi explained the game.
“It makes sense,” Basham said. “He breaks down film and makes it sound familiar, really easy.”
He was already considering committing to Washington when fellow defensive lineman Daeshon Hall -- who spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Seattle (Wash.) Garfield before moving to Lancaster, Texas -- suggested he join a group of six other recruits who planned to commit to the Huskies during their Rising Stars Camp on June 29.
It felt like the right time to make his announcement, so he joined the group at a local restaurant not far from Husky Stadium.
“It was very impressive,” Ronald said. “I can tell you that. It almost made me cry. It brought tears to my eyes.”