GCMS standout McNutt signs with Illinois football

GCMS standout McNutt signs with Illinois football

GIBSON CITY — How could the 2017-18 school year get any better for Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley senior Mitch McNutt?

First, he was a key cog in the Falcon football team’s run to a Class 2A state championship. Then, he earned News-Gazette Player of the Year honors for piling up the area’s most rushing yards (1,693) and touchdowns (32), including a trio of scores in the title game.

The topper came Wednesday, as McNutt signed with Lovie Smith’s Illinois program as a preferred walk-on.

“The U of I was always at the top of my list since I know them best,” said McNutt, who will play running back with the Illini. “(Tuesday) I got a text from one of their coordinators, they sent their letter of intent, and it was the best fit. I knew I could sign (Wednesday).”

McNutt held scholarship offers from Valparaiso and a few Division II schools, as well as preferred walk-on status with Illinois State and Southern Illinois.

But relationships with the Illinois staff and the ability to spend his next four years close to home played heavily into McNutt’s pick.

“It’s a big part of your life,” said McNutt, who will study exercise science. “I’ve always been a big Illinois fan. That’s my favorite college and football team. To get a chance to play there is a dream come true.”

McNutt is the latest GCMS football star to go the D-I route, following 2016 graduate Nick Meunier at Army. McNutt will also travel the path of former Gibson City star Kip Rutledge, who competed for the Illini in 1987.

“That’s rewarding as a coach, to see his excitement,” GCMS coach Mike Allen said. “His dad showed me a thing he wrote in third grade, his goals before his graduated from high school. And, honestly, he’s accomplished all of them.”

McNutt said he realized during his junior year, when he compiled 1,235 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, that his aspirations of playing D-I football were plausible. After accomplishing even more in 2017, it only became more feasible for the 6-foot, 220-pound McNutt.

“It’s always been my dream,” McNutt said. “You never know if it’s realistic when you’re a kid. You go to the big D-I camps in the summer, you talk to the coaches and get your confidence up, and you just have to have a good senior year. And to get (a spot at Illinois) from it is the best news.”

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Moonpie wrote on February 07, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Wow! Lovie Dovie finally tapped the football gold mine that is Gibson City. Nick Saban at Bama must surely be jealous.

The Gibson City--Melvin-Sibley pipeline is officially open!!!!

We will win!!!!!

Ill-annoyed... wrote on February 07, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Moonpie, I’ll echo Jjohnson on this and state that this is a great accomplishment for an outstanding student athlete from a rural community in East Central Illinois.  Opportunities like this are to be celebrated, not mocked, especially with all the negative things we see in the news these days.  Take a moment to reflect on just how utterly juvenile and ridiculous your comment was - it’s a shame that you are just so miserable that you would attempt to minimize a great accomplishment for a young man with a great future ahead of him. Go Falcons and Go Illini!

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on February 08, 2018 at 8:02 am

You've sunk to a new low.....and that takes some doing for you.   Hope that you're proud of yourself!

GLG wrote on February 22, 2018 at 10:02 pm

Tell us again why you got fired at the News-Gazette?

You continue to prove that there are more horses asses than there are horses!!

 

jjohnson wrote on February 07, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Moonpie, not only are you offensive, you are tastelessly mean. Why rain on this kid’s parade? He’s a local kid for the N-G’s print readership, as you well know. You have descended so far into the cutter that you have become pathetic. For shame. Write an apology.

PaxtonIllini wrote on February 08, 2018 at 8:02 am

Moonpie. . . you are just a jerk!!! Why take shots at Lovie for giving a local kid a preferred walkon. You really need to get a life.

Ron wrote on February 08, 2018 at 11:02 am

Nice Legs anyway