VIENNA - Former-Parkersburg South standout Cody Nutter can remember attending the Boys and Girls Club annual Steak & Burger Dinner when he was a senior captain of the Patriot football squad.
However, when the Mountaineer fight song blared over the loud speakers at the Grand Pointe Conference Center Thursday night, it was Nutter walking out with his Mountaineer teammates to the cheers of the packed house in attendance.
"That (the introduction) was really cool," explained Nutter, who became West Virginia's long snapper last spring. "I remember watching the players come in as a senior in high school and dreaming of one day that player being me."
Photo by Jeff Baughan
West Virginia University’s Tyler Urban returns an autographed football Thursday evening after the Parkersburg Boys & Girls Club Steak and Burger Dinner at Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna. See more photos at cu.newsandsentinel.com
That dream came to fruition Thursday night as 18 players made the 3-hour trek from Morgantown to participate in the 14th annual event which has raised nearly $265,000 during its tenure.
"This is by far our biggest-in number of players-and hopefully our auction will go well enough to make this our biggest money maker ever," executive director Mike Flanagan said. "Tonight, we will probably do $35,000. Especially, if the auction goes well."
In addition to Nutter, two former-Parkersburg Big Reds were in attendance-Josh Jenkins and Matt Lindamood.
"My mom showed me an article where I supposedly attended one during my senior year, but I can't remember," said Lindamood, who started on the kickoff team this past season. "But, this is really great. Especially seeing all the kids here and seeing how excited they are to see us players."
In addition to the Wood County trio the list of players on hand included tight end Tyler Urban, nose tackle Chris Neild, defensive ends Julian Miller and Jorge Wright, linebackers Anthony Leonard and Najee Goode, quarterback Coley White, offensive linemen Matt Timmerman and Nick Kindler, running backs Noel Devine and Shawn Alston, receivers Bradley Starks and Tavon Austin and defensive backs Keith Tandy and Robert Sands.
Also in attendance was another former-Big Red Paul Johnson, who serves as one of the graduate assistants for the Mountaineer program, George Shehl, Todd Nelson, Matt Franklin and Director of Player Development Dale Wolfley.
"I can remember those first couple of years where we might get two or three players," added Flanagan. "The turnout from WVU is just wonderful and we thought we might get even more players."
Following a short autograph session the players, coaches and administrators were introduced to the fans. Players were spread out around the room so that those in attendance could get to meet and greet them while enjoying their dinners.
Players were later escorted back into the autograph room where they first signed autographs for the nearly 40 Boys and Girls Club members in attendance and then for any fan wishing to receive one or have his or her picture taken with one of their favorite players.
"You know it wasn't that long ago when I was one of those kids," said Nutter. "Hopefully, us (the Parkersburg trio) being here will show kids in this area that they can attain their dreams if they are willing to work hard enough for them."