Although he’s been playing varsity football since he was a freshman, Norman North’s Harrison Utley still gets butterflies on Friday nights.
“I always get nervous before games,” admitted the physical, 6-4, 285-pound junior offensive lineman. “I get a little anxious, but after that first hit on the first play, I zone in immediately and get locked in and everything starts rolling.”
Unfortunately for opposing defensive linemen and linebackers, once Utley gets “locked in”, that means some nasty pancake blocks are soon to follow.
“I definitely think I could be a little bit meaner on the field,” claimed Utley, who tries to model his game after former Oklahoma Sooner and current Philadelphia Eagle lineman Lane Johnson. “I think there’s a different level of intensity you have to achieve when you’re playing.”
“He’s one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met,” claimed Timberwolf head coach Justin Jones of the imposing offensive lineman. “When he gets on the field and it’s time to play, he’s goes to work. You take his athleticism and combine that with a little bit of a mean streak and his ability to finish blocks, I think that’s what separates the good from the great.”
“I said a long time ago when he was a freshman that he’s a Power Five guy,” added Jones. “He’s a guy that has that rare combination of size and athleticism. He’s got great feet and he’s very cerebral. He’s got big hands, has a great first-step punch, and plays with great leverage.”
Despite suffering a fractured foot during baseball season that limited his ability to attend camps this summer, Utley was still able to participate in events at Oklahoma, Alabama, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
“The sky is the limit for him,” added Jones. “All he has to do is continue to progress and get stronger. He’s got all the footwork that he needs. He’s got a high, high ceiling.”
Utley, who is currently listed as the sixth-best junior in Oklahoma according to Prep Redzone Oklahoma, is also a power-hitting first baseman for the Timberwolf baseball team. So which does Utley like better, hitting a home run or executing the perfect pancake block?
“Ha!”, said Utley with a laugh. “That’s a pretty hard question. Probably a perfect pancake block that leads to a touchdown.”
Norman North looks to extend its record to 3-0 on the season this week when the Timberwolves take on Yukon this Friday night on Cox’s YurView Channel 3 at 7pm. This Ford Game of the Week will also be streamed online.