Idaho QB commit ready for his special day

Coeur d’Alene High’s Amos will sign with Vandals today, enroll in school in January.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comFebruary 5, 2014 

  • SIGNING DAY IN MOSCOW

    Idaho coach Paul Petrino will hold a 4 p.m. MT news conference announcing the Vandals’ recruiting class, expected to be heavy on junior college talent. IdahoStatesman.com will have updates throughout the day.

Months of surprises, twists, turns, bone breaks and heartbreak have placed Gunnar Amos on the path toward a lifelong dream.

Amos, a senior at Coeur d’Alene High, will sign with Idaho on Wednesday to play quarterback. It is an opportunity that wasn’t available until recently, something he did not have when his father and coach, Shawn, was diagnosed with cancer in October.

And it wasn’t an option when he broke his ankle in the 5A state playoffs a month later. Even when he committed to Idaho, Amos thought his last snap as a quarterback was on that freezing night, so close to a goal he long envisioned.

“People have told me you could make a pretty good football movie out of it,” Gunnar said.

The tale is just getting started.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Amos was offered by the Vandals last summer as an athlete, likely to play receiver. He committed on his official visit Jan. 17, a Friday. The next day, as his visit was winding down, Idaho coach Paul Petrino pulled Amos into his office.

Petrino gave him two options — play wide receiver and join the team this fall, or he could play quarterback, but would have to delay enrollment until January. The Vandals have another quarterback (Washington’s Juke Luton) set to sign Wednesday.

“It was unexpected, because I was ready to be a receiver,” Gunnar said. “But I took a few days to think it over, called him and said that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to play quarterback at the (FBS) level.”

Amos threw for 2,284 yards with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and also ran for 10 TDs before breaking his ankle Nov. 5 in the first round of the playoffs. He watched on the sideline, in a wheelchair or on crutches, as sophomore Austin Lee led the Vikings to a state title.

“That was supposed to be his moment. He wanted to win a state title as a senior since he was a kid,” Shawn Amos said. “But he was out there, cheering on his boys, almost getting penalties for going too far onto the field on a crutch celebrating.”

Gunnar said the injury hampered his recruiting “a little bit,” though he also had offers from Idaho State, Weber State and Army. He will continue a legacy at Idaho; Shawn lettered as a running back in 1988 and 1989.

The injury was the second big hit in a month for the Amos family. Shawn was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma Oct. 10 after discovering a bump near his collarbone. Luckily, it was caught early and was a treatable form of cancer.

“He’s feeling sick, going through chemo, and I’ve got a broken ankle, but he’s the one that would go make food for me or grab some water whenever my mom wasn’t there,” Gunnar said.

Shawn didn’t miss a game on the sidelines. His treatment has gone well, and his final chemotherapy session is Friday.

“I told people it’s not my job to figure out why. There had to be something bigger, and what it’s revealed is something that’s a true blessing,” Shawn said.

Before Gunnar suits up for the Vandals, just like his dad did, they will get to work alongside one another. While Gunnar grayshirts, he will coach Coeur d’Alene’s quarterbacks, including Lee, as he takes classes at North Idaho College.

“It’s going to be special,” Gunnar said. “I’ve just learned to really appreciate what I have. I’ve never worked as hard at anything as I have to get healthy again, to get better.”

As a former college player and a coach of a program that has churned out FBS-caliber players regularly, including current Idaho quarterback Chad Chalich and Boise State tight end commit Chase Blakley, Shawn knows not just what it takes to reach that level, but to succeed.

And he’s uniquely qualified to see that Gunnar has that ability.

“If nothing negative would’ve happened, he is a mature young man,” Shawn said. “What he went through, on all fronts, that’s made him stronger. He’s going to be well-prepared for any tough thing thrown his way.”

Dave Southorn: 377-6420; Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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