It’s an exciting time to be Isaiah Perez

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Rodney Harwood

His dad Gordy’s Facebook page is a proud display of achievement and la familia. The post reads: It’s an exciting time to be Isaiah Perez.

I will have to say it is interesting how hard universities are going after student-athletes as underclassmen. Everybody’s looking for that diamond in the rough and they’ve found one in Othello.

It’s slowly become the norm over years where a guy or a girl makes a verbal commitment before their senior year to get recruiters off the hunt. Of course, nothing’s official until they’ve signed on the dotted line.

It’s all good and I hope Isaiah has the time of his life making his NCAA Division I selection.

I talked to him and his folks, Gordy and Mandi, the other night. During the course of our conversation on football recruitment, the defending 2A heavyweight state champion said, “I still have wrestling goals,” which I assumed meant his senior season next year. I threw out one last question.

“Anything I haven’t asked that we need to talk about?”

Perez is being recruited by institutions from Harvard to Stanford and all points in between to play football. He’s certainly one of the most sought after recruits in Washington state. As it turns out there is a little something blowin’ in the wind and since I have a blank screen staring me in the face, I might as well throw it out there for fun.

Apparently Moses Lake superstar Hunter Cruz put a bug in someone’s ear at Fresno State they ought to offer Perez a scholarship to play both football and wrestle. I just always assume that if high school kids these days are being asked to specialize then the multi-sport athlete went out with the 8-track.

Then again, Bo Jackson played both football and baseball at Auburn. A little closer to home, Jason Cooper from Moses Lake did the same thing at Stanford.

Anyway, I had the chance to talk with Cruz last summer before the East-West 4A All-Star football game. The preview I wrote was that this was going to be his last football game before he embarks on an NCAA Division I wrestling career. Cruz played like the Columbia Basin Big Nine Defensive Player of the Year, and came off the edge to force a fumble in the final seconds to help the East win the game.

As the conversation afterward drifted toward last football game, Hunter being the sly dog he is, said, “Maybe not.”

Ya take all this with a grain of sand. But, wouldn’t it be fun if the Boys from the Basin hooked up again at Fresno State? Both are edge rushers. Both have football savvy to carry over to the D-I level. Both have a motor with just two speeds — fast and stop.

I think we’re onto something here. They could become the Von Miller-DeMarcus Ware or JJ Watt-Jadeveon Clowney of the Mountain West. Lightning and Thunder from the Columbia Basin. It has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

When football is over, they could take to the circle and put some bang in the Bulldog wrestling top half of the lineup. Isaiah has both strength and speed at heavyweight. Anybody that saw his 2A championship match at the Tacoma Dome last year will remember “The Throw,” in the second period that not only preserved his championship, but was a defining moment in his career thus far.

Hunter is a two-time Washington 4A state champion, two-time Tri-State champion that will groove his game at Fresno State this season.

It takes some kind of special to do both at any level anymore, but it sure would be fun to see the Boys from the Basin take both games to the next level.

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com

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