Blevins chooses Union to continue football, track career


Chris Jones

Hunter Blevins signed Thursday to continue his football and track career at Union College in a ceremony at Harlan County High School. Those pictured at the signing included, from left, front row: Connor Blevins, Scotty Howard, Blevins, Chandra Howard and Tye Howard; back row: Harlan County High School Principal Kathy Minor, HCHS assistant track coach Arynn Johnson, HCHS track coach Ryan Vitatoe, HCHS football coach Eddie Creech, Union College football coach John Luttrell and Morgan Grace.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

A hard-hitting linebacker from the mountains who found his way to Union College in the 1980s. John Luttrell is now the Bulldogs’ head coach and was recently in need of a middle linebacker.
He found one back home in Harlan County on Thursday as he signed HCHS star Hunter Blevins to join the Union program.
“He’s such a good young man off the field, which is important to me,” Luttrell said. “He’s physical on the field, and also very athletic. To have that athleticism to go with his strength is big. He’s a hard worker and that shows on the field. We look for him to play the mike linebacker. The guy we have there now will be a senior next year, so I think Hunter has a chance to get on the field next season. He has that kind of ability to shore up an area where we need help. His ceiling is so high, and with his work ethic I think he will get better and better.”
Blevins chose Union over several other schools, including UVA-Wise.
“I was shocked he chose us over UVA-Wise, but I know he wanted to participate in track and they don’t have a track team, so that helped us a lot,” Luttrell said.
“There are a lot of people who want to watch me play close to home,” said Blevins on his decision to choose Union. “It was a great offer as far as scholarship money, plus I wanted to be close to home. I also want to play collegiate football in the mountains, and I think coach (John) Luttrell is doing a great job with the program. I can’t wait to be part of the program.”
A three-year starter at HCHS, Blevins played on a regional championship team in 2017 and a district championship squad in 2018. His numbers improved each season, from 54 tackles as a sophomore to 81 last season to 114 in only nine games in a covid-shortened senior campaign. The Bears finished 3-6 and lost to defending state champ Johnson Central in the first round of the 4A playoffs. Blevins finished his career as the sixth-leading tackler in HCHS school history with 255.
“They are getting an outstanding young man and student who will make Union College better just by being on campus,” said Eddie Creech, who recently resigned after six seasons as the HCHS football coach. “He should take great pride in both team accomplishments and individual accomplishments because he earned everything he’s been blessed to receive. He has talent and skill, but he really hit the weight room and the film room.”
In addition to his success on the football field, Blevins is also one of the state’s top throwers in track in both the shot put and discus. He currently ranks third in the state in the shot put and has finished first in all eight competitions that HCHS has competed in thus far this spring.
“I’m so proud of Hunter, and the amazing opportunity he’s earned himself. He’s one of the hardest working, most disciplined kids I’ve ever coached, which explains his tremendous jump in results,” Harlan County track coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “ He’s a wonderful leader who leads by example, not just in the throws pit, but outside as well. He’s been a great example for his peers, and I have zero doubt he’s going to be success at Union. Coach (Jacob) Carter and his staff are building a fine program and Hunter will be a huge piece in that process
“We are excited to have Hunter join the Bulldog family,” Carter said. “He is going to make an impact right away with the power and speed he possesses in the throws. When I first saw him throw, I knew he had what it takes to be successful at the next level. I wanted to be the coach to guide him and help him grow. I see big things ahead for this young man and I can’t wait to begin the championship grind with him at Union.”
Blevins will join several former teammates on the Union roster with linemen Billy Fields starting at right guard on offense last season while Elijah Smallwood was a second-team left tackle. Christian Hall, a sophomore, is a second-team outside linebacker and also plays a big role on special teams. HCHS senior receiver Matt Brown signed with the Bulldogs earlier in the spring.