Colson Yankoff, as his high school football coach Shawn Amos likes to say, won the genetic lottery.
His father, Trevor, played quarterback at Brown. His mother, Tracie, was a track and field athlete at Biola.
Colson, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior quarterback for the Coeur d’Alene Vikings, has passed for 1,912 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, and rushed for 856 yards and 10 TDs — all despite missing the first two games with a knee injury.
For his Viking career, he has passed for 5,866 yards and 53 TDs, and rushed for 1,977 yards and 41 scores.
He is a highly rated, dual-threat quarterback who has verbally committed to play football at the University of Washington. He has speed and an arm few high school athletes possess.
“He’s blessed genetically,” Amos said. “But the most important thing is, there’s a lot of kids that have those sort of blessings — what he’s done with it is why he’s the player he is. He goes about his business at all levels — academically, socially, football-wise — at a high level.”
Amos remembers watching Yankoff play in some Junior Tackle games in eighth grade, where “you could see, he was a step above most of his peers,” Amos said. “And how he carries himself, how he goes about his business ... He was taking math classes up here when he was in seventh grade.”
As a sophomore, Yankoff shared time at quarterback with a senior who was a returning all-league player, and who had scored the game-winning touchdown as a sophomore in the state title game.
Amos said that taught Yankoff “patience — and he’s going to need it at the next level,” as well as the value of “earning stuff.”
Colson was born in the San Clemente area of Southern California. His family moved to North Idaho when he was 4.
He’s humble, gracious and respectful, and boasts a quiet confidence.
“Most of his best qualities have nothing to do with football — the type of kid he is, how he treats people,” Amos said. “He’s been raised right, and he does things the right way. He’s not a perfect kid, but he’s exceptional.”
Press: Your father being a former college quarterback, what role has he played in your development?
Yankoff: “I like to call him my manager. He’s definitely played a huge role in all of this, especially the recruiting aspect. Which has been awesome because it gives me the opportunity to live life as a high school student.”
What have these last four years been like, trying to be a high school student, but also being a highly recruited athlete?
“It’s been one heck of a ride, I’d say. It’s had its ups and downs. I’ve tried to focus on living in the moment in high school, and not worry too much about the college football aspect of it.”
How do you separate the future from the present?
“It’s been an interesting balancing act. My dad has helped a lot, because I don’t have to be on top of those things as much as I would have to if he weren’t taking care of it for me.
He’s kinda monitored my email for me, so if coaches tried to contact me through social media, he can help let me know if coaches are reaching out. I don’t check my social media; I’m not that into it. When I was really going through the recruiting process and talking to schools, without an idea of where I wanted to go, I was more active.”
The three days that former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer and current NFL QB Brock Osweiler were here this summer, working with Osweiler and local quarterbacks, and throwing to area high school wide receivers ... what did you get out of that?
“I got to watch two amazing quarterbacks, not only throw the ball, but see how they teach and some of their philosophies as far as throwing the ball goes. It was very cool; it was a cool experience.”
How do you escape from the noise? You could go online and read about yourself all night long.
“It’s just not something that I’m very interested in. I’m never really curious what people are posting online. I feel like I’m confident in what I’m doing; I don’t need to hear other people’s opinions.”
What’s your favorite subject in school?
“Math. I’ve always been a mathematics-minded kid. Math and physics have been my two favorite subjects. They’ve always come easy to me, and because of that, I’ve been in advanced classes and continued to enjoy it. I’ve been taking classes here (at Coeur d’Alene High School) since seventh grade. I took Algebra 1 as a sixth-grader, and geometry I took as a seventh-grader here on campus (in a class with mostly sophomores). It was good; I’d take a bus over here (from Canfield Middle School) for a period a day and I got the lay of the land in high school before I got here.”
Washington Huskies coach Chris Petersen was at one of your home games this season. When you see college coaches standing on the sidelines, how do you keep your concentration on the game you’re playing?
“I know they’re coming, so I like to say ‘Hi’ to them before the game. I told him (Petersen) to stay warm, because it was a little chilly that night. I just try to kick it into game mode, and try not to worry about what’s not on the field.”
Tell me about your experience on the Viking track and field team last spring.
“That was my first year of doing track. As soon as basketball ended in the winter, I get out on the track and work out. And the track team’s out there too, so I would just run around with them. At one point the track coach (Justin Aguilar, who coaches the high jumpers) came over. He coaxed me into doing that (high jumping). I was at my first meet in Walla Walla and he and the long jump coach came over and said, ‘Let’s go do some long jump. We’ll show you (how).’
“At Post Falls I was long jumping (and suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee). I landed, and it popped. As soon as it happened it was like ‘Oh, no, what did I just do?’ I was just doing this for fun, and to stay in shape. Once we got the prognosis, I knew I would be back on the field soon enough. I just had to put in the time.”
You plan to enroll at the University of Washington in early January for winter quarter, and have to work ahead to make sure you complete your classes at Coeur d’Alene High, where the semester ends the third week of January. How tough was the decision to leave high school early?
“A difficult one. Obviously it’s not easy to say goodbye to the second half of your senior year. But I figured if I’m going to play college football, I’m going to do it right.”
When you won the Gatorade Idaho Football Player of the Year last fall, you were given money to donate to a group of your choice, and you chose Special Needs Recreation. Why?
“That was always something I had a soft heart for. I’ve been around some of the kids in that program, played some sports with them actually. In middle school we had a special needs kid on our basketball team. We made sure he had fun at practice and we got him into the end of some games; that was all very cool to me, and obviously a cool experience to him.”
You have more than two dozen scholarship offers. When did you get your first recruiting letter?
“I think it was in eighth grade. I don’t know if it was my first one exactly, but the time I realized ‘Holy cow, I just got one of these letters,’ it was from Stanford.”
What’s the most unique thing you’ve gotten in the mail, recruiting wise?
“Some of the schools do edits, where it’s your face or your head in a picture in full gear from their school. I got one where I was on the cover of a big magazine as a male model (like GQ), where my head was photoshopped on. I got one that was titled, ‘Colson’s Heisman House,’ where it was me standing in a driveway with a nice car and a tiger and a nice house in the background, something like that. I enjoy those.”
If you weren’t a football player, what would your sport have been?
“The only other sport I played in high school was basketball. But, because of football, I never played lacrosse in high school, because I was busy with football in the spring. That’s a sport I played a lot in middle school and had a lot of fun with. I’d probably be playing basketball and lacrosse. I think in fifth grade, myself and a couple of buddies found out there was a (lacrosse) club team and thought, ‘Hey, this looks like a cool sport, let’s try it.’ And we really enjoyed it.”