By DAVID GRAVELY
The reports will continue to come in over the next several months as players make their decisions on where they want to play college sports, but one Pulaski County High School student made his decision final on Wednesday. After weighing his options, Cougar tight-end Codie Blevins signed his official Letter of Intent to play for the Ferum Panthers and Head Coach Dave Harper.
“I’m excited, I’m thankful, and I’m blessed,” said Blevins. “Since the day I first put on a football uniform for the Pulaski Gold Raiders, I’ve wanted to be able to make it to the college level. That dreams coming true for me now. I’m glad the whole process is over, and now I can just worry about getting in the best shape I can be in before reporting.”
Codie Blevins was never the biggest kid on the team. He was never the fastest, and he was never the strongest. He was determined though, and sometimes that’s enough when you add hard work to it.
“I’ve had a lot of people push me over the years, and I them a big thank you,” said Blevins. “John King was one of my first coaches, and over the years he always made a point of checking up on me and giving me some encouragement. When I got to the high school, Coach (Eric) Berry made a point of getting me in on the scout team early, and then he would try to get me as many play repetitions as he could. He was one the main reasons I ended up as a tight-end. He always pushed me, and it made me better. I learned a lot from Coach Todd Jones too.”
Not all of those that influenced Blevins were coaches, however. “I really owe Dr. Perry a lot. When I was a student at Critzer, he was the principal. I got into some trouble here and there, and he always tried to guide me back to doing the right things. When I got to Pulaski Middle School, I found out he had been transferred there as well. He kept pushing me to do right, and to stay clear of trouble. He straightened me out a bunch of times, and I guess it finally stuck. I also owe a lot to my parents and my grandparents. They were always there if I needed them.”
The recruiting process and his final decision weighed heavily on both himself and his family. He wanted to go somewhere that he felt like he could be successful, and he wanted to do more than ride the bench. His family wanted to see him happy, but they didn’t want to see him go too far from home. He initially got interest from eleven schools, and some of them were bigger Division 1 schools. Of those eleven schools, he made visits to seven including Southwest Baptist University in Mississippi, Alderson-Brauddus College in West Virginia, James Madison University, Bridgewater, Appalachian State, Averrette, and Randolph Macon. After getting more interest from five of those schools, he narrowed his choices down to JMU, Bridgewater, Appalachian State, and Ferrum.
“I knew if I went to a bigger school, I would most likely not see the field on game day for years, if then,” said Blevins. “I didn’t want to go to a school and fall through the cracks. I want to be a part of the team, and I want to be able to compete for playing time. Ferrum gave me the best opportunity for that, and it felt like a good fit. I was really impressed with Coach Harper, and he made me feel right at home when I visited the campus. I really think this will give me the best chance to play some football, get a good education, and set myself up for the future after college.”
Blevins has a good plan in place for that too. He wants to teach. He’s a bit of a history buff, and would love to be a history teacher and be able to be around the game he loves as a coach somewhere one day.
“I’m just really happy that he’s made a decision that he can be at peace with,” said his father, Mike Blevins. “You watch your son grow up, and you see him getting bigger and stronger as the years go by. During his visits, we had a great chance to bond as father and son. We talked a lot, and I realized how much he’s grown up. We would have loved to have seen him go to any of the other schools he looked at, but he made the decision that helped him reach his goals for the future. He picked Ferrum because it’s what he wanted. I’m glad to see him smile again.”
While Blevins was a tight-end most of his varsity career, he spent time at some other positions coming up through the ranks. During his eighth grade season, he was the backup quarterback for the Orioles. When they played against Carroll County, Codie got the call. His quarterback career consisted of exactly four plays.
“On the first play, they had a pass play called,” said Mike Blevins. “He couldn’t find anyone open, so he ended up running around until he got tackled. The second play went the same way, and he got tackled for a loss again. The third play was supposed to be a handoff, but the running back went the wrong way, so he ended up running around again. The final play was a called pass play. He dropped back, and even though he had to scramble around again, he ended up sending a lame duck pass wobbling down field to nobody. The next day they took away his number four jersey and gave him number 64. He’s been on the line since then.”
“I feel old,” said Codie’s mother Paula Back-Blevins. “It wasn’t too bad until this past week when he was coming down to making his decision. That’s when it hit me that I’m getting old.”
She felt good about the fact that her son wouldn’t be too far away, but realized that would also present its own issues for her. “My baby is going away, but he’ll be close enough that I’m sure he’ll bring his laundry to me. I’m also pretty sure he won’t hesitate to call me now and then for snacks or a good meal. He’ll also be close enough that I can check in on him from time to time if I want. I’ll keep him on his toes.”
Another big reason this decision made sense for Blevins was financially. “When you go to a bigger school, like Virginia Tech or JMU, they can offer you football money,” Codie explained. “They have scholarship money and that can really help out. I didn’t see any way I would be getting any of that, so I had to think about how I would pay for college. Fortunately, I’ve worked hard in the classroom as well as on the field, so money won’t be a problem now.”
Blevins currently holds a 3.61 grade point average, and with his high SAT scores will be able to cover most of his costs for school with scholastic grants and scholarships.
While he didn’t finish up his high school career with any mind staggering statistics, he did have a few big moments on the field. During the 2011 season he caught a huge pass on fourth and long, going 64 yards before being tackled by a Blacksburg player at the five-yard line. During the 2012 regular season, Codie caught four passes for 54 yards. His biggest catch of the season was a 30 yard catch and run that ended up with him dragging tacklers into the end zone for a score against Magna Vista in the first round of the Region 4 playoffs. The Cougars won that game 32-0.
“I’ll miss the Friday night lights, and I don’t know if anything will ever compare to walking down those steps in front of a Cougar home crowd,” said Blevins. “I’m excited about the future, and if I could give somebody coming up now one piece of advice it would be to work hard in the classroom. There are plenty of players who can get it done on the field, but if the colleges come calling and you can’t get in because of grades then it’s all a waste of time. Give your school work and your sport 110 percent. It’s good to see my hard work paying off.”