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Utt Signs With Bisons

By Staff | Mar 25, 2009

In the photo, MHS football standout Jason Utt, seated at center, is flanked by his father, Rob, and mother, Alisha, March 13 as he signs a letter of intent to compete in football at Bethany College. Looking on are, from left, MHS Head Football Coach Mark Batton; MHS Principal Kathi Schmaltz; and MHS Athletic Director Brian Castilow. (Photo by Bruce Crawford)

After starting the season 2-3, the Magnolia Blue Eagle football team took off on an eight-game winning streak, culminating in a 56-25 loss to Grafton in the West Virginia Class AA state title game on Wheeling Island Stadium.

A big reason for that winning was the return to health of senior wide receiver Jason Utt, who capped his high school career with a state record 11 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Following a three-year career – which included going over 1,000 yard receiving-the 6-0, 180-pounder has decided to continue his athletic and academic careers at Bethany College, where he will be a candidate for receiver with head coach Tim Weaver’s up and coming Bison.

“When I first went there, they sold the program to me and it was really professional,” the personable Utt said. “The way the coaches talked to me after the recruitment period made me feel really comfortable with the campus and the team.”

Blue Eagle Head Coach Mark Batton admitted it will be strange without Utt on the field come Aug. 1.

“Jason will be a big loss for us,” Batton said. “He started for us for three years in the secondary and was a great receiver who ran great routes, had nice feet and real good hands.

“A lot of people overlook his defensive ability,” Batton continued. “Jason was a cover corner, he shut a lot of people down and a lot of teams didn’t throw his way because of his reputation.

“I’m just tickled to death that Jason’s signed with Bethany and I think Bethany’s getting a heck of a football player.”

Utt said the professionalism showed by Bethany really sold him on becoming a Bison.

“The way Bethany took me around campus by myself and let me sit down and have lunch with the quarterback and some of the wide receivers and let me hang out with them for the day really made me feel comfortable with the players,” he said.

Utt said the thought of helping Bethany become winners also appealed to him.

“It’s exciting to me,” he said. “They are trying to turn the program around now, I think they were .500 in the Presidents Athletic Conference last year and their quarterback is only a sophomore, two of their top receivers are back so it looks like they are on their way up right now.”

Utt said Bethany is looking at him as a Hines Ward type receiver.

“They were looking for a receiver that’s not afraid to go across the middle and catch the 10-yard out patterns and take pressure off the other receivers,” Utt said.

According to Batton, the Blue Eagles will miss a lot of the intangibles that Utt brought to the field.

“We’ll miss both his leadership and his receiving and cover ability,” Batton said.

“We were a young football team and when Jason talked in the huddle people listened. He was a vocal leader as well as being a leader by example. His work ethic in the offseason, all the training he did, he was a physical specimen and was a great leader for us.”

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Rob Utt of New Martinsville, Utt plans on majoring in education.