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Former Coeur d’Alene star quarterback, four-star recruit Colson Yankoff adjusting to position change at UCLA

One of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in Inland Northwest prep football history isn’t taking snaps.

Colson Yankoff, a four-star recruit during his time at Idaho power Coeur d’Alene, made the switch to receiver in the offseason when it became apparent he likely wouldn’t see time behind center for the Bruins, who start the Pac-12’s most experienced quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

Chase Griffin, who started in place of Thompson-Robinson in UCLA’s two previous games due to a positive coronavirus test, was also in the mix for the backup spot with Yankoff..

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Yankoff – a three-sport athlete at Coeur d’Alene High with sprinter speed and an ability to play above the rim in basketball – figured he could contribute to UCLA by other means.

“He wants to play and he wants to contribute,” UCLA head vcoach Chip Kelly said of Yankoff in October. “He’s totally selfless; he wants to know how he can contribute and help this football team, and obviously I think he sees how No. 1 (Thompson-Robinson’s uniform number) plays, and with a limited amount of time to prepare, it would probably be tough to unseat Dorian.”

CdA coach Shawn Amos saw Yankoff – the fifth-ranked dual-threat quarterback recruit in the 247Sports’ 2017 recruiting class – total 6,411 yards and 55 touchdowns while rushing for 2,221 and 43 touchdowns. Amos believes the Under Armour All-American has the ability to thrive as a pass catcher.

“He’s a great athlete,” Amos said.

Yankoff has yet to register a reception for UCLA (2-2), which visits Arizona State (1-1) on Saturday. He has primarily seen the field on kickoff and punt teams.

The redshirt sophomore declined The Spokesman-Review’s request for comment.

“Colson said that at this time he would rather not discuss his (position) change,” a UCLA spokesman said in an email.

Yankoff’s road to Los Angeles was circuitous.

Several major college football programs offered him a scholarship before he committed to Oregon as a junior in 2016, months before Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich was fired.

Yankoff opened up his recruitment and committed to Washington the spring before his senior season at CdA, and was primarily in contact with then-Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith.

Smith left Washington months later to accept the head coaching position at Oregon State and Yankoff spent his redshirt season in 2018 under offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bush Hamden, who was fired after the 2019 season.

Three months after Smith left for Oregon State, the Huskies signed Georgia transfer and future NFL draft pick Jacob Eason, who redshirted in 2018 with Yankoff due to transfer rules.

Yankoff, who won the “Iron Pup” Award at Washington given to the hardest-working freshman, and fellow freshman quarterback Jacob Sirmon entered their names in the NCAA transfer portal following spring 2019 when it became clear the 6-6 Eason would be the Huskies’ starter.

Sirmon decided to stay at Washington, but Yankoff chose to play for Helfrich’s old boss at Oregon, new coach Kelly, whose offenses at Oregon were famous for implementing dual-threat quarterbacks.

But Washington head coach Chris Petersen blocked Yankoff’s intraconference petition for immediate eligibility at UCLA, forcing the 2017 Idaho 5A Offensive Player of the Year to have essentially another redshirt season in 2019.

Yankoff was UCLA’s scout team quarterback in 2019 and played some receiver.

Teammates like his versatility.

“He’s going out there and snagging things,” running back Brittain Brown said in October. “You know, that man’s an athlete, so I feel like any position we put him at he’s going to be doing good.”

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