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    UCLA’s Colson Yankoff does it all, and with a smile
    • October 26, 2023

    Coeur d’Alene High football coach Shawn Amos has lunch with UCLA’s Colson Yankoff whenever he’s back in his Idaho hometown. The two catch up on each other’s lives and Amos picks Yankoff’s brain about no-huddle offense.

    Yankoff has played three different positions for the Bruins in his four seasons and counting – all with a smile and an optimistic attitude. One thought has remained constant in Amos’ mind since high school and it still holds true:

    “Colson was going to crush it no matter what,” he said.

    Yankoff is part of a deep running back corps this season and also is a PFF All-American Second Team honoree on special teams. He’s returned seven kicks for 142 yards through the first seven games and has been credited with nine total tackles.

    The redshirt senior was a quarterback when he first came to UCLA.

    “Getting a taste for all aspects of the game is something I’ve enjoyed,” Yankoff said. “I’ve just really enjoyed helping this team however I can. So if screaming down on kickoff for whatever special teams is the best way to do that, and then I’m all in.”

    Coeur d’Alene, Yankoff’s hometown, is a rapidly growing city in northern Idaho that’s roughly a 3-hour drive from the Canadian border. Football is a big deal there, but Amos, who has been coaching the team since 1997, says the sport still has a small-town feel to it.

    “Once a Viking, always a Viking,” the team’s dutifully updated Facebook page declares.

    The coach estimates 18 of his former players are playing college football right now, but Yankoff, who was a four-star recruit in high school, is one of his most successful ones. The Coeur d’Alene community has its share of UCLA followers now – the high school wrestling coach, in particular, is a big fan.

    Yankoff threw for 2,396 yards and 21 touchdowns during his senior season at Coeur d’Alene and rushed for an additional 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns. He played some receiver early in high school, but he made a name for himself as a dual-threat quarterback.

    Yankoff has never thrown a single pass at UCLA. He was moved to receiver in 2020 and picked up additional duties on special teams and remained there for the 2021 season, as well, until he was moved to yet another position.

    “I have to admit, we were surprised with running back,” Amos said.

    His trust in the coaching staff and willingness to help them has allowed Yankoff to move throughout the offense without friction.

    “Candidly, that wasn’t a role I thought I would end up filling on this team,” Yankoff said. “But I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: It’s been really enjoyable.”

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    Overall athleticism (he also competed in track and field and basketball in high school) has also simplified the process of Yankoff’s position changes in addition to his mentality.

    “Colson’s size, his strength, he’s one of the fastest guys on the team,” Coach Chip Kelly said in late August. “He’s 6-foot-4, he’s 230 pounds. He’s really come into his own as a special teams player and as a running back for us, so we’re really impressed with what Colson has put in during the course of his career here.”

    The No. 23 Bruins (5-2 overall, 2-2 Pac-12), who host Colorado (4-3, 1-3) on Saturday, average 215.6 rushing yards per game, but Yankoff’s talents extend beyond the football field. He plays the piano, sings, goes hiking and camping and has an undergrad degree in economics. He’s made the Athletic Director’s honor roll 10 times.

    “We had a lot of kids come through our program that they need us. We’re a very important part of their journey,” Amos said. “He’s one of those kids we’re just fortunate to be able to coach him.”

    ​ Orange County Register