Though the sport may be different, Sehome senior Austin Rapp is following through on a promise he made as a sophomore.
On Friday, Feb. 22, Rapp announced that he will be attending Washington State University to walk on to the football team.
"I'm really excited for this opportunity," Rapp said in a phone interview. "A bunch of people at our school, all they do on Saturday is go watch and root for the Cougs. I'm excited for the opportunity to be one of those guys that they watch."
It is particularly exciting for Rapp, considering two years ago he committed to accept a scholarship offer from the school to play baseball.
Obviously, those plans have changed, but Rapp still will be heading to Pullman as a preferred walk on for the football program, meaning he already has a guaranteed roster spot and will get to start competing for an outside linebacker or strong safety spot during summer workouts.
And the athletic Rapp is confident he'll have the ability to compete.
"They said the opportunity is right there - it's a matter of how far you want to take it and what you want to do with that opportunity," Rapp said. "They told me if I work my tail off, a scholarship offer will be right there for me. Basically, I'm coming in as any other signee on the team."
Rapp said he already has received a couple of academic scholarship offers and plans to apply for a few more to help offset costs until he gets his opportunity to earn an athletic one.
Though he didn't get a chance to meet with Cougars head coach Mike Leech during his visit, he believes coming in as a walk on may actually help him.
"He's an old-school coach," Rapp said. "That's kind of what I'm used to. He's tough. I've read his book, and as a walk on, I believe I'll have a chance to earn his respect quicker. If I work hard and learn the program, he'll see that, and that is one of his values."
Rapp spent most of his time on defense in the Mariners' secondary last fall, as he logged 30 tackles, including 18 solo, broke up five passes and had one interception.
He also was Sehome's starting quarterback, as he passed for 612 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 414 yards and another three scores. He was a second-team All-Northwest Conference selection on both sides of the ball.
He said he chose to walk on for Washington State over a football scholarship offer from Central Washington, and he also had discussions with Simon Fraser.
"I just wanted the opportunity to play with the best and continue to get the education I wanted to get," said Rapp, who was planning to major in engineering, but may change that to business to accommodate an expected demanding football training schedule.
Rapp becomes the second Whatcom County senior football player to announce plans to join the Cougars this spring, as Lynden offensive lineman Matt Meyer signed a National Letter of Intent to accept a scholarship offer from the school earlier this month.
Former Ferndale safety Casey Locker will be a senior safety with the team next fall, while Nooksack Valley offensive lineman B.J. Salmonson was grey shirted this year.
The fact that Rapp would be mentioned along with that trio certainly would have been surprising a couple years ago, when baseball was his first love.
But this spring, he said he doesn't even expect to play high school baseball for the Mariners, after an injury forced him to miss most of last year. Instead, Rapp said he plans to run track this year.
"A lot of people are making the mistake saying I'm not playing baseball because I want to focus on football," Rapp said. "But the truth is, I'm just burnt out on it. It's nothing about the coaching staff or anything like that - it's just my own personal reasons. I've decided to run track instead this spring, and hopefully that speed will carry over to the football field."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.