Lewiston High product Cruz Hepburn going from ballpark to gridiron

Jan. 3—The Idaho football team made another addition to its roster: Lewiston High School product and Lewis-Clark State baseball transfer Cruz Hepburn.

The 2022 LHS graduate announced his commitment to the Moscow-based university on Thursday via Instagram. He spent last season playing shortstop for the Warriors.

Hepburn's college journey has been a roller coaster so far, and he's just a sophomore.

Hepburn originally committed to the University of Washington to play baseball as he entered his junior year in high school.

The Lewiston native's talent on the diamond helped him garner interest from Oregon State, Oregon, Utah and Gonzaga.

The shortstop finished with a .571 on-base percentage as a freshman, and he earned first-team all-5A Inland Empire League honors as a senior.

Despite Hepburn's success, he reopened his recruitment before his senior baseball season in hopes of getting a Division I football offer.

He got his offer, committing to Idaho in February 2022.

Hepburn was one of the first players third-year football coach Jason Eck got to commit to the Vandals.

"The first day he could recruit, he ended up hitting me up," Hepburn said in an interview following his original commitment to Idaho. "We ended up planning a visit. I went up there and really liked the plan they had for the program. I feel like they have an individual goal for each player they're recruiting, so it kind of made me feel good about making the decision to sign there."

Just three months after Hepburn landed on Idaho, he decided to reopen his recruitment again, this time to play baseball for Lewis-Clark State.

"After our state tournament, it made it pretty tough knowing that could've been my last baseball game," Hepburn said in an interview following his commitment to LC. "And LC is really an awesome program. The whole valley is behind the program; my family is here, and I think I have more of a future in baseball than football."

Hepburn put together a stellar senior campaign, finishing with a .287 batting average, a .444 on-base percentage, 34 runs scored and a .404 slugging percentage.

He appeared in 19 games for the Warriors and made eight starts at shortstop. He had eight hits and scored 10 runs.

Lewis-Clark State finished as runners-up at the NAIA World Series following a 7-6 loss to Westmont on June 2, and six months later, Hepburn was on the move again, returning to a familiar destination in Moscow to revitalize his football dreams.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is Lewiston's all-time leading rusher, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark three times in four years. As a senior, he tallied 1,210 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns and was named to the Class 5A all-IEL team.

He also amassed 1,000 yards as a sophomore and was on pace to break that threshold as a junior, but an injury kept him sidelined for a couple of games.

Hepburn also stood out as a linebacker for the Bengals.

When he originally committed to playing for the Vandals, they were going to use him as a safety/linebacker mix. That still seems to be the plan.

"I'm OK with that 'cause I played a lot of defense in high school too, and I really like the defensive side of the ball," Hepburn said in an interview following his original commitment to Idaho. "I like being aggressive, also I like what they got planned for me. It won't be that hard of a transition ... and I'm just really excited about it."

Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, or on Twitter @TreebTalks