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Gonzaga Prep’s Devin Culp highlights list of area football early signers

Several area football players put their names on the dotted line on Wednesday as they made their choice of colleges official during the early signing period for national letters of intent for football players.

The early signing period – approved last year by an NCAA panel – lasts 72 hours and runs through Friday.

Among those signing on Wednesday was Gonzaga Prep’s Devin Culp, who announced his commitment to Washington via Twitter in April after decommitting from Oregon.

Culp was rated a four-star recruit from scouting service Scout.com.

“I’m fired up to officially be a part of that Dawg family,” Culp said on Tuesday before Gonzaga Prep basketball downed Shadle Park 76-48. “It’s a special place out there.”

“Washington is getting a great, wonderful player,” G-Prep coach Dave McKenna said. “Everybody’s heard about him. At the same time, he’s worked his tail off to get better. The most important things with Devin, I think, is he works extremely hard off the field to be a better leader.”

Culp will join Coeur d’Alene standout dual-threat quarterback Colson Yankoff, another four-star recruit, with the Huskies. Yankoff took early graduation from CdA and will start classes at Washington in January.

Yankoff had also originally committed to Oregon but decommitted after the Ducks fired former coach Mark Helfrich.

Yankoff surprised Culp by attending his national letter of intent ceremony at G-Prep on Wednesday.

“Coach (Chris) Peterson has it going on over there,” McKenna said. “When you have a future quarterback show up at a future teammates’ signing, that’s special, that Colson came over (from Coeur d’Alene) for that.

“That’s going to produce wins over there.”

In addition to Culp, G-Prep offensive lineman John Perko signed with Idaho State.

“I’m just extremely excited for both of them,” McKenna said. “They are both extremely awesome young men and I was blessed and proud to coach them and I love them.

“Idaho State is getting a great offensive lineman, one of the best we’ve ever had at Prep,” he added of Perko, listed at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds. “I really think they were lucky to get him. He’s going to represent our school very well and he’s going to play very well for Idaho State.”

Though Culp was an all-around offensive threat with G-Prep – playing running back and wide receiver – at 6-5, 250 he’s slated to play tight end for the Huskies.

“That’s going to take some time to get used to, getting down in that three-point stance,” Culp said. “Being a part of the offensive line, learning different blocking schemes. The part I’m most nervous and excited for is just being able to learn all the different part of the game.

“I know already how to block and run and catch and everything, but to learn all the running schemes and passing schemes – it excites me. It really does.”

McKenna joked that Culp has been an offensive lineman all along.

“In our offense, we threw a little bit more maybe this year than we have in the pass, but we used to call our receivers ‘split guards,’ ” he said.

Not only will Culp have to learn new schemes and techniques, but a completely different terminology as well at the next level.

“It’ll be like learning French or something,” Culp said.

“He grew so much off the field this year, especially his leadership and unselfishness,” McKenna said of Culp. “He realized that for us to be successful he was going to have to be a better blocker and he did that very well.”

Though he’ll be playing on the other side of the state, Culp will take his school and hometown with him in his heart.

“I’m super excited to be able to represent G-Prep on my back and the whole city of Spokane on my back and I’m just going to show them what I’ve got and what these Spokane boys got out here for them,” he said.

Asked if he had anything to add, he energetically replied, “Roll Pups and go Dawgs, baby!”

Speedster Fisher stays close to home

East Valley’s Rodrick Fisher has known for a while that he was going to stay close – Pullman, to be exact – and extend his football career with Washington State. He orally committed to the Cougs in May.

It’s been a busy week for Fisher. He graduated early at the start of the week, signed his letter of intent on Wednesday, and celebrates his birthday on Thursday.

“It’s like that in our household – there’s always a lot of things going on,” Fisher said.

Family, after all, is paramount in his life. And his story is well-known in the area.

Dropped out of school his sophomore year. Estranged from his biological parents. Bounced from house to house and homeless at times. That changed his junior year when his head coach, Adam Fisher and his wife, Jolene, took Rodrick in and eventually became his legal guardian.

“It’s helped a lot having my father to be my head coach,” Rodrick said. “He pushes me a lot harder, so he’s taught me a lot of things about hard work and to be able to push through things and use the chip on my shoulder to do things that other people aren’t willing to do.”

Asked what he’ll take most from his high school experience to the next level, Fisher didn’t hesitate.

“This has been such a long journey with all the trials and tribulations I’ve been through,” he said. “It’s taught me a lot of things, specially from the wins and the losses in my life and the highs and the lows. It’s just something special in my life that I will carry for a long time as I go.”

WSU head coach Mike Leach knows he’s adding a special young man to his program.

“The background of Rodrick Fisher and the fact that he went through some tough times … he’s evolved into the young man he is, I think it’s very impressive,” Leach said.

Fisher – the Great Northern League offensive MVP – brings good size with speed to burn.

“We got him down at 6-2, 205, but he’s taller than that,” Leach said. “Extremely fast player. We’ve got a lot of fast players. I’m not going to say that Rodrick’s the fastest. Somebody on here might be faster, but it would be hard to find somebody faster than Rodrick Fisher. Then when you consider how big he is, that’s all the more impressive.”

Before he arrives in Pullman though, he has one more stop as a high school athlete. Fisher was given a special invitation to play in the Army All-American Game on Jan. 6, featuring 100 of the best prep players in the country.

He leaves for San Antonio on Dec. 31, comes back to Spokane on Jan. 7 and starts at WSU on Jan. 8. Like he said, always a lot of things going on with the Fishers.

New Eagles lineman

Risone Ama, an All-GSL 3A first-team offensive lineman this season from Mt. Spokane, signed with Eastern Washington.

“I think it’s nice, signing early and not waiting,” Ama told The Spokesman-Review last week. Ama (6-3, 270) expects to play guard for the Eagles.

“They’ve been contacting me since my sophomore year, and I’ve built a great relationship with them,” said Ama, who’s rated as a two-star recruit by Scout.com.

Other signees

University all-GSL 4A first-team offensive lineman Campbell Barrington (6-5, 280) signed with BYU and West Valley’s Connor Whitney – who was an all-GNL first-team wide receiver, defensive MVP at defensive back and punter – committed to Idaho.

While not a football signing, Mt. Spokane’s all-GSL first-team outside hitter Miahna Waters took early graduation to sign and enroll at Southern Utah University for volleyball.