Although considered a candidate to play in the Mid-American Conference, Genoa’s standout running back Kyle Nutter has decided to play football at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan.
Nutter, who signed his letter of intent play at the NAIA school last week, will not be missed by Genoa’s opponents, who found him almost impossible to stop.
The Genoa running back, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 214 pounds, finished his career as the Comets' most decorated football player. He holds a number of schools records, among them career rushing yards, single-season rushing yards, touchdowns, single-season touchdowns and highest yard-per carry average.
|Genoa’s standout running back
In his three years, his teams won two conference titles, advanced to the Division IV regional final once and the regional semifinals twice. Quite possibly his best team, the 2011 Comets, advanced to the regional semifinals before falling to eventual-state runner-up Kenton, 32-22. That squad, as well as the 2010 unit, is viewed by many as having been good enough to have won a state championship.
Nutter finished his career with 6,017 rushing yards, a school record, and ran for 2,058 yards on 230 carries (8.9 per-carry average) and 34 touchdowns his senior season,
“I'm happy with my career,” Nutter said. “I can honestly say I have no regrets. I worked hard for everything and hard work always pays off.”
His play on the defensive side of the ball has earned him first-team honors at linebacker in each of the past two seasons. Last fall, he recovered five fumbles, intercepted three passes and finished with 80 tackles. Nutter's true position was actually something of a hybrid between linebacker and defensive back, a testament to his versatility.
“He has an unmatched work ethic of any athlete I have ever coached,” Genoa coach Tim Spiess said. “Not only has Kyle made his body a piece of iron, he has done the same with his mind (and) he understands what is expected of him.”
Nutter will be joined at Siena Heights by offensive linemen C. J. Marious (Central Catholic) and Kyle Stout (Sylvania Southview), linebacker Frankie Hamilton (Start), and defensive lineman Joey Mravec. They come to a program in its formative years.
In January 2010, Jim Lyall was hired by Siena Heights as part of a task force to evaluate the possibility of building a football team. The go ahead was given and Lyall was named coach and began his work.
When Lyall started the program two years ago he said, “We need to have young men who understand the whole meaning of character and integrity. Because we don’t have any senior leadership right now, it’s going to be important for us to target captains. We’re going to target players from programs that have been successful. We’re going to ask their coaches point blank: tell us about the character of this young man does he have goals in mind?”
Lyall says he used these same principles in selecting Nutter.
“I watched film of Kyle from both his junior and senior year and I could see that he was fast with good balance and he had the ability to make sharp cuts but he was also a tough hard hitting back that could open holes when necessary,” Lyall said. “We run a fast-paced no-huddle offense sometimes with the spread. It’s upbeat and takes advantage of speed and ball control. Last year we led the league in time of possession. Kyle will be one of the backs that we need to constantly pound the other team’s defense.”
Lyall said that last year everyone wanted to play since they had mostly freshmen and sophomores. Teams were expecting an easy win, however, they were surprised. Although Siena’s record was 4-6 there, were not many easy wins for opponents as they played eight overtimes and won all of their home games by a total margin of 184 points opposed to their opponent’s 15.
Siena Heights is a member of the Mid-States Football Association in football.
“It’s a tough league, some call it the SEC of the NAIA” said Lyall.
Lyall was a four-year defensive lineman for the University of Michigan under Bo Schembechler and was voted “Champion of the Year” by the Michigan coaching staff. He has 39 years of collegiate coaching experience, 23 as a head coach. Previous to his Siena Heights job he was head coach at NCAA Division III Adrian College for 20 years. He has coached nearly 60 all-conference performers, five academic All-Americans and three NCAA D-III All-Americans.
Siena Heights University is a four-year co-ed Catholic, liberal arts institution that was founded as St. John’s College in 1919. It has about 2,300 full and part-time students with half attending the Adrian campus and 600 in residence. The campus has the new multi-use O’Laughlin Stadium where football as well as men and woman’s soccer, lacrosse and track and field events are held.
The NAIA is a national organization composed mainly of private institutions with an average enrollment of approximately 1,600 students. The NAIA is actually older than the NCAA and produced such athletes as Water Payton out of Jackson State University, who played 13 seasons for the NFL Chicago Bears.
The school’s nickname is the Shusaints and their mascot is “Halo the Husky”. In the 2013 season, away games will be as far as Iowa but most are in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. There will be five home games.
Genoa senior Kyle Nutter running through traffic last fall. (Press file photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)
Kyle Nutter’s mother Cheri Nutter, Siena Heights football coach Jim Lyall, Kyle, Kyle’s father, and Genoa coach Tim Spiess. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)