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Washington's top high school football prospect finds success on the hardwood for Rainier Beach

Josh Conerly Jr.'s athletic career with Rainier Beach isn't over just yet. The top-ranked high school football player in the country is now shooting hoops.

SEATTLE — Josh Conerly Jr. is the number three-ranked left tackle in the country with scholarship offers from more than 50 schools.

That's why coaches from top programs around the country have made regular visits to Rainier Beach High School.

"It's been fun meeting a lot of different people," Conerly said. "Talking on the phone with (Alabama head coach) Nick Saban is just crazy to me."

All of that attention has a way of going to somebody's head. But Josh knows an ego trip is a journey to nowhere and no one appreciates that more than his teammates and coaches.

"Josh is a leader," Rainier Beach Head Football Coach Corey Sampson said. "When he first came (to Rainier Beach), he was like 'Coach, I want to be a leader, but I don't know how to be a leader.'"

"He figured it out with growth and maturity and, man, he's an awesome kid," said Sampson.

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In these days of the extra-cautious athlete, some may wonder why this 6-foot-5, 280-pound star with a bright future in football is risking injury by playing basketball.

"You're playing for the greatest head coach of all time," Conerly said in reference to Rainier Beach head basketball coach Mike Bethea. "I mean, why wouldn't you?"

"That's the greatest head coach in Washington state history, in my opinion. You don't see a bunch of banners like that everywhere, so it speaks for itself," said Conerly.

Bethea is happy to add Conerly's physical presence to his starting lineup, which features a quartet of football players.

"I come from an old-school way of thinking where, first of all, enjoy your high school years. Play every sport you can. You only get to do that one time," Bethea said.

Josh has the physical tools to be a problem in the trenches at the next level. Conerly's football coach said his mentality on the gridiron also makes him dangerous.

"He's an assassin," Sampson said. "He just wants to get after you."

Conerly's mindset off the field makes him different, too. Despite earning All-American honors as a senior with trips to the All-American Bowl in San Antonio and the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii, he said his journey is far from over.

"You haven't really made it until you retire your mom," Conerly said. "Like, she doesn't have to work anymore. She can just chill."

Conerly will be one step closer to working toward his mom's retirement when he makes his college choice next month.

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