Junior to Watch: Mario Urrutia
School: Louisville (Ky.) Fern Creek High School
Position: Wide Receiver
Size and speed: Urrutia (pronounced Yer-RIT-ia) is 6-foot-5 ½ and weighs 195 pounds. He’s been electronically timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.6 seconds.
Statistics: As a junior, he caught 65 passes for 1,075 yards and 12 touchdowns. Also excels in basketball, averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds per game.
Honors: Was an honorable mention all-state selection as a junior.
Favorite Schools: Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan.
Skinny: In the not-so-distant past, an athlete like Mario Urrutia may have never set foot on a football field in Kentucky. But times have changed in the Bluegrass State, where the passing game has thrived, and 6-foot-5, 195-pound athletes with great athleticism and hands are no longer coming up solely with basketball on the brain.
Urrutia, who led Jefferson County receivers with 65 receptions for 1,075 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior, figures to be one of the state’s real gems in the 2004 football recruiting class.
“Mario is as fine a football player as I’ve coached,” said Fern Creek coach Troy Johnson, “and that includes players like Bernard Jackson (University of Tennessee, NFL) and Chip Mattingly (University of Louisville, NFL). I think the sky’s the limit for this kid, especially as a wide receiver with his type of size and speed and athleticism. It’s just hard to find kids like that.”
Johnson said Urrutia combines the athleticism with good hands and a toughness you don’t always see in wideouts.
“He’ll go across the middle all day long,” he said. “He loves to run the slant pattern. He’s a real tough kid.”
Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan have shown the most interest to date in Urrutia. He has attended the Wolverines’ camp two years in a row, forming an early bond with that staff, and he has made unofficial visits to Kentucky. Most recently, he was among a group of approximately 20 players to attend the Wildcats’ “Junior Day” on Feb. 23. He’ll be making an unofficial visit to Louisville this weekend.
“He really liked Kentucky a lot,” Johnson said. “I know he was really impressed with their previous staff, coach (Guy) Morriss and those guys, and the new staff seems to have picked up where they left off. He also likes the idea of playing in the SEC, the top-notch conference in the country, and playing on TV a lot. I think Mario was ready to commit to them after going up there to visit, but he decided to wait a little longer and think about things.”
The Wildcats turned up the intensity by giving Urrutia his first scholarship offer on Tuesday.
“I talked to (UK recruiting coordintator) Joker Phillips about an hour ago, and he told me that they’ve decided to go ahead and offer Mario,” Johnson said. “I think that really says a lot because they’ve only got 13 scholarships to give for next year. They’re showing Mario how much they think of him by offering now.”