Photo credit: S. Carter Action Images 

2019 Zillah (Wash.) offensive weapon Cody Vance announced his commitment to play college football at Eastern Oregon University this past weekend.

It’s a decision that he admits probably arrived a month later than it should have.

“For about a month I had the wrong number of [EOU head coach] Tim Camp,” Vance said. “For the longest time I was wondering like ‘this guy isn’t texting me back!’”

Following the commitment of Zillah teammates Dakota Hibbs and Ethan Boisselle, Tim Camp asked EOU player (and former Leopard) Triston Cullen why Vance wasn’t replying to any of his texts.

It was clear both parties were interested in working together at the next level, but the miscommunication caused plenty of delays. 

Fortunately for Vance, he was able to make his official visit happen this past week. After visiting the campus, he knew Eastern Oregon was the place he belonged at.

“It’s nice having some valley friends on the team, so it won't be too hard to connect with the players,” Vance said.

Perhaps why EOU is so successful recruiting the Yakima Valley and Tri-Cities area is because of the city that it’s located in.

The town of La Grande, Oregon very much resembles the hometowns of many players on the roster. Vance describes La Grande as a ‘slightly bigger Zillah.’

Other schools Vance was considering included Portland-based Pacific University, as well as Tacoma-based University of Puget Sound.

Right now the Eastern Oregon coaching staff is leaning towards splitting Vance out wide as a slot receiver.

This is quite the changeup from what Vance has been doing in high school football. He primarily operated as a between-the-tackles running back for Zillah.

There are a couple things Vance has going for him that could make this a smooth transition.

Perhaps his greatest strength is his incredible quickness. This is a perfect trait for the slot receiver position.

He's also shown throughout his Zillah run that he has dependable hands, whenever he caught passes out of the backfield.

“I think what I need to most improve on is getting my route-running back,” Vance said. “Up until high school, I played a lot of receiver, and I took a lot of pride in my routes.”

While certainly not a burner type by any means, Vance does possess the lateral quickness to make defenders miss in open space.

Vance has had a wildly successful three years playing at Zillah. This includes multiple All League awards, three straight conference championships, and also a state title ring in basketball.

Something that might not be well known about Vance is he didn’t actually grow up playing for Zillah.

He attended school and played sports for Grandview through his freshman year. It was at that point he knew he needed to make a switch.

“I knew about Zillah, and I knew it was just a different atmosphere,” Vance said. “I’m competitive, and I wanted to compete at a high level.”

Moving back to Zillah after eight years was described by Vance as incredibly easy.

He wanted to surround himself with people that had a desire to win, and that’s exactly what he found with the Leopards.

Going into his first year of Varsity Football, Vance didn’t think he would play. He felt that Zillah Football was where ‘the gods competed,’ and he might not be up to snuff.

Midway through his sophomore year, he was suddenly thrusted in a starting corner role.

Having to compete against the likes of then Royal (now Weber State) QB Kaden Jenks, as well as multiple state playoff teams, Vance never allowed himself to be overwhelmed.

A fond memory for Vance came in the first round of the state playoffs against Freeman. It was a game Zillah won in triple overtime 49-42.

“One of the senior players, Beaudry Widner, came right up to me, looked me in the eyes, and said ‘Cody this is the biggest game of your life.' And I’m looking at him, and I’m a sophomore, and I’m thinking ‘dang this is Zillah Football right here,'" Vance said. 

Since then football has become Vance’s biggest passion in life. He’s elated for what he believes is the perfect fit for him at EOU Football.

If an opportunity abounds at the next level, there should be little doubt that Vance will seize it.