One of those prospects that decided Washington is the way to go is Coeur d'Alene, Idaho quarterback Colson Yankoff. The other is Devin Culp, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound athlete from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane. Originally committed to Oregon, Culp wasn't sure what his situation was when former UO Head Coach Mark Helfrich and his staff were fired, replaced by new staff brought in by Willie Taggart.
"First of all, it's not easy to de-commit from somewhere where you first thought it was going to be your new home," Culp told Dawgman.com while participating at Ford Sports Performance's 'May Madness', a camp/7-7 tournament held Saturday at Newport High School in Bellevue. "You love the people there but sometimes you've got to make decisions in your life that you think will be the best choice for you. I think with me de-committing and finding U-Dub, that was a strong decision and I think a positive and good decision for me and my family. If I get homesick I'm not too far away from home. My Dad lives here so he'll be able to come see all my games and I'll be able to get a home-cooked meal whenever I want. Just the little things. My uncle is a big Dawgs fan. He's happy with the decision I made as well."
In fact, Culp was seen after May Madness showing his Dad how to put the dubs up. "That's a pretty big deal around here!" Culp exclaimed.
"I feel like at U-Dub I feel like it's a huge family, from the academic people that help you with your homework to the people that you're grinding with every day on the field, I feel like everyone genuinely cares for everyone else and that environment right there is what set it apart for me. At Oregon, coach Helf (Mark Helfrich) and coach Yost had a great thing going on over there. I was very interested in their program. They provided that same sense of everybody's here for you, but I just never felt that connection with the new Oregon staff. There was such a lack of communication to the point where I didn't even know if I had a scholarship anymore. It's been a crazy process so far, really. But I'm definitely happy where I'm at right now."
So why did Culp come all the way over from Spokane for May Madness? "I just wanted to compete," he said. "I hadn't competed in a while and I knew this was going to be a good group of guys out here to go up against and I knew there were going to be some scouts and some different people out here. I'm more worried about the All-American stuff now: I'm not worried about college anymore. But that was just the biggest reason, to come out and compete and have fun.
"I'm going to be living over here during the summer, so I'm going to be working at (Ford Sports Performance) a lot and going to be using a ball machine and all that, get my hands right. I'd like to thank coach Pao (Washington Tight Ends Coach Jordan Paopao), honestly. He's the one that showed me the trick about the crosshairs. You've got to look in the crosshairs and you'll catch it every time if you do that."
Even though basketball is admittedly his first love, Culp has been playing football since the fourth grade. "I've been working at it a lot more lately now that this is my passion and what I know I want to do for a long time, he said. "I've been working on everything. I've always been a little bit bigger, a little faster, a little stronger than kids so it's helped me out until now but I know I've still got a lot of work to do."
As you would expect with a talented jumbo athlete like Culp, the Washington coaches are doing more than just jockeying for his services. "The coaches at UW are having wrestling matches out there," Culp said with a laugh. "Half of them want me to have a hand on the line playing some d-end and some of them talk about me making plays. So for me? I would like to stay on the offensive side of the ball for sure, but if I need to put a hand in the ground to get on the field as a freshman? I'll do it."
What does he see when he's out there? "I see a tight end, wide receiver right there," said Culp. "Mostly tight end though. I can definitely picture myself as a tight end for sure.
"The thing about my game is I'm a very versatile guy. I can do it all. On the offensive side of the ball there's the pitches and all that stuff, but I'm blocking all the time and working on my footwork and my hands and my punching and all that with blocking. Catching the ball is just part of the game that comes naturally."
Another perk for traveling west for May Madness was that he got to work with a future teammate - Bothell quarterback Jacob Sirmon. "He's a great guy, cool," Culp said of the fellow 2018 UW verbal commit. "He always has a smile on his face. He's a joy to be around. He'll lift up your spirits if you're having a down day for sure. I'm looking forward to working with him."
From talking to Culp, it sounds like he could be a guy that helps the Huskies down the road when it comes to recruiting. "I keep pretty close tabs on the guys that are committed already, and I wouldn't be surprised if Sirm does too," he said. "He's a pretty sharp guy. He knows his stuff. I think Sirm might be looking out for me, at the end of the day!"
The Ducks are still keeping an eye out for Culp, but the only colors he sees are purple and gold.
"There hasn't been as much communication but I've definitely heard from a few coaches that have stopped by at Prep looking at some other guys," Culp said. "They'll stop me in the halls, but for the most part it's been all Dawgs that's on my mind. That's all I care about really. I'm not worried about anything else."