Husky Football Primer: Time for Culp to Take a Big Gulp and Produce

Dan Raley

Fourth down and 1.

Ball at the Utah 45.

One minute and 15 seconds left in the first half.

Washington leads 14-10 when Jacob Eason takes the snap and scans the field.

While a handoff might have been a more high-percentage option, the Husky quarterback lobs one in the direction of redshirt freshman tight end Devin Culp in the flat.

The surprise pass barely eludes the reach of the hulking receiver and falls to the ground, causing the Husky Stadium crowd to groan.

As Culp embraces his sophomore season, it's time for him to connect all the dots. To come up with big plays. To get his first catch. To put away a tough opponent like Utah, which bounced back for a 33-28 victory.

Whenever college football resumes, the 6-foot-3, 262-pound Spokane native will be a focal contributor at a position always key to the Huskies offensive attack, whether it be receiving or blocking.

Culp has had plenty of motivation to succeed at Washington after decommitting from Oregon when the Ducks fired Mark Helfrich's coaching staff.

"My uncle who passed about a year, year and a half ago, he was a huge Dawg fan so I kind of wanted to pay tribute also to him," Culp told in 2017. "A lot of my family are Dawg fans. The list goes on and on. There are so many factors that had me drawn into the program."

This is another in a series of profiles on prospective UW football starters. While spring practice is in question because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated will provide uninterrupted coverage.

With Hunter Bryant leaving early for the NFL draft, Culp will be asked to play a big role at the tight-end spot opposite junior Cade Otton. He'll be asked to assume Bryant's responsibilities -- that of a hybrid tight end and wide receiver. 

At Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Culp handled both receiving roles, plus was used as a jet-sweep runner, accumulating more than 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns rushing.

He was such a versatile athlete at Gonzaga he played for state championship teams in football and basketball. A 4-star recruit, he attended football camp at Oregon and committed to the Ducks in 2017.

Once Helfrich got the boot, Culp began looking elsewhere to play his college ball, no longer feeling connected to Eugene. 

"There was a big, big gap of communication where no one was talking," he said. "I talked with coach (Willie) Taggart maybe one time for like three minutes on the phone. Things like that. Communication is important to me."

Taggart spent just one season coaching at Oregon before he bolted to Florida State, coached two seasons and got fired. He's now at Florida Atlantic as the head guy. 

Meantime, Culp has gone from a UW redshirt season to appearing in 12 games last season after sitting out the 2019 opener for some undisclosed team violation. 

He's put on weight to go with all of that athleticism. All he needs to do now is make the fourth-down catch. And the one after that. 

SUMMARY: Culp has been on the field and got a taste. He's expected to greatly increase his time as a starter and needs to perform like one. There's plenty of tested candidates at the position, such as sophomore Jack Westover and senior Jacob Kizer, so nothing will be handed to him.

GRADE (1 to 5): He gets a 3. Lack of playing time or a starting assignment puts him out at that level. It's up to him to elevate himself.