Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 19, 2014

Pair of Raiders sign with Concord

for the Daily Telegraph

BRADSHAW — Tuesday afternoon at River View High School was highlighted by the signing of linemen Tyler Blankenship and Chris Mullins to enroll at Concord University this fall and play football for the Mountain Lions.

Mullins, at 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, starred on both sides of the football for the Raiders last fall, playing center on offense and end on defense. Blankenship, who packs 279 pounds onto his 5-7 frame, played offensive guard and was limited on defense due to an injury last spring in baseball.

“We’ve been pretty lucky here the last several years,” River View head football coach Gehrig Justice said. “Last year, Brandon Thomas signed with Concord and the year before John Bailey and Leshon Benton signed.

“Two years ago, Jacob Muncy signed to play baseball at Bluefield State and now we have Tyler and Chris.”

He continued, “Both are guys who are going to have to build into the system at Concord…Chris will probably build into a (offensive) tackle. He has a tackle build…Tyler will probably play nose guard or (defensive) tackle. He has a low center of gravity.”

The son of Chris and Angie Mullins of Panther, Mullins has only played high school football the past two seasons, but has been a starter both years. He was named to the All-Class AA football team as an honorable mention selection.

“It’s a great honor to continue my career playing football,” Mullins said. “I want to go to college and make something of myself.”

Of his choice of Concord University, Mullins related, “I have some family members who go there and they say it’s a great college.”

Continued Coach Justice of Mullins, “He’s a super athlete for his size.  He’s a smart kid who will probably graduate in the top five in his class.”

Of highlights he remembers, Chris summed them up with “Friday Night Lights.”

Although currently uncertain of his course of study, Mullins mentioned Athletic Training as a possibility.

Blankenship, who has lived with his maternal grandparents, Vince and Sally Cantrell, since he was 5 or 6 years old, will be following Vince’s footsteps to Concord, where he played in the late 1960s.

“I’m very happy I get to play at the next level of football…I’ll probably be redshirted next year,” Blankenship said. “I’ll go work hard and get good grades.”

Blankenship, like Mullins, said his preference is to play defense. He is planning on majoring in Physical Education and working toward a K-12 certification to teach.

An offensive guard this past season for the Raiders, Tyler grinned sheepishly when asked about things he remembered while playing at River View.

“One play last year at Lincoln County, I knocked down four guys on one play,” Blankenship said. “I was pulling and hit four. Three were good blocks, but a touchdown was called back because they (referees) said I hit the fourth one in the back.”

 Said Coach Justice of Blankenship, “His best season was probably his sophomore year.  The last two years, he had a couple of nagging injuries that kept him from being 100 percent.

“He (Blankenship) always wanted to play college football and a spot on the interior defensive line is a natural for him with his compact build.”

 When football starts in August, both Mullins and Blankenship will have a leg up on the other Concord freshman, as they will have no trouble remembering their new head coach’s name:  He too is Coach (Garin) Justice, younger brother of their head coach last fall at River View.