GUTHRIE — Most promising football players move into the Tulsa Union school district. Blake Belcher moved out, and it paid off well for the big offensive tackle.
So well that Belcher now will play for University of Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship, who built the Union dynasty in Class 6A.
Belcher, Guthrie's 6-foot-51/2, 285-pound offensive tackle, signed a letter of intent with TU on Wednesday.
“There is not a finer man than Coach Blankenship,” said Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins. “I idolized Coach Blankenship growing up.”
Blankenship was a draw for Belcher, who moved to Guthrie the summer before his ninth-grade season and grew into a dominant football player.
“Coach Blankenship's a real good guy,” Belcher said. “He sees it as being more than a football coach. And the academics is pretty elite there. The football team's good as well.”
Blankenship coached Union to three Class 6A state titles, the last in 2005. He then resigned to pursue a college coaching career.
Belcher's move to Guthrie was quite the culture shock. “It was a huge change,” he said. “There's a whole lot less people here. But I haven't met a mean person in this town. It's a great hometown atmosphere.”
Belcher received scholarship offers from Stanford, Arizona, Iowa State and Oregon State. But he wanted to stay close to home, and Watkins says Tulsa got a “steal.”
“I don't think he's finished growing,” Watkins said. “He could easy by 310, 315. He's an outstanding young man. His upside is going to continue to grow.
“We've been blessed to have some outstanding linemen, including David Washington (three-year starting center at OSU). I'd put him in that class.”