Joseph Hutchinson hasn’t had a football season since 2019.

After helping Lamar to three consecutive state championships, Hutchinson signed with Princeton to further his academic and athletic careers and was a freshman during the Tigers’ 2019 season. The summer before what was supposed to be his sophomore season, the Ivy League canceled its fall football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A year later, Hutchinson is hoping to win the starting quarterback job for the Tigers after what has been a tumultuous year for himself and his Princeton teammates. All of his classes during the 2020-21 school year were online, and Hutchinson was only on campus for three months in the spring, an experience he said wasn’t easy to navigate.

Joseph Hutchinson AJ McCarron

Princeton quarterback and former Lamar standout Joseph Hutchinson, right, is pictured in a recent photo with former Alabama quarterback and current Atlanta Falcons quarterback AJ McCarron at QB Country in Mobile, Alabama.

“It’s been challenging, but our team is doing a great job,” Hutchinson said. “Our coaches are doing a good job keeping us busy in the playbook. Luckily I was able to be up there in the spring while most of the seniors took a gap year and weren’t on campus, so it was mostly juniors and sophomores. We got a lot of good work in. Most of the guys are in New Jersey now with the strength coaches, and it’s been going well.”

Since they couldn’t be on campus last fall, Hutchinson and a group of teammates decided to live on Tybee Island in Georgia for the fall semester, which allowed them to both focus on their studies and also stay in football shape as much as possible.

“During the fall semester we couldn’t stay on campus at all, and most of the football team didn’t want to stay at home, so we were all spread out throughout the United States,” Hutchinson said. “We wanted to go to an area where it would be less stressful with COVID and more open, and we were able to find a gym and go to the fields and throw. Me and seven other guys in my grade were able to go, bond, work out and throw together.”

Without regular team activities for so long, Hutchinson admitted it was difficult to develop as a player, but he feels like he did well in the fall considering the circumstances.

“I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress,” Hutchinson said. “It’s been a good year to get into the playbook and develop my size a little more. I’m a taller guy, so putting on weight is hard, and having an extra year to put on body mass has been great.”

Matt Hutchinson, Joseph Hutchinson’s father, said the increase in size and improved mechanics are the two things that have stuck out to him when he’s had a chance to watch his son work out.

“He’s gained good mass, and his mechanics are a ton better,” Matt Hutchinson said. “It’s just the little things that a lot of people don’t see on Saturday nights, he’s really worked hard to tweak those little things.”

This summer, Hutchinson has continued to hone his mechanics, and he even had the chance to meet Falcons quarterback and former Alabama signal caller AJ McCarron when the two worked out at QB Country in Mobile, Alabama, which was founded by former Ole Miss quarterback David Morris, who is one of Hutchinson’s quarterback coaches.

“It was a surreal moment,” Hutchinson said of meeting McCarron, who once gave him an autograph when Hutchinson was young and McCarron was playing for Alabama. “I never thought I would be able to work out with someone like that, especially with my favorite college quarterback of all time. He was a very nice guy and helpful to everyone there, including me.”

When he wasn’t focusing on football, Hutchinson spent time earlier this summer interning at a law firm in Jackson, which further piqued his interest in studying law.

“That’s my plan right now,” Hutchinson said. “It was an experiment. When I got the internship, I realized I’m really interested in that kind of stuff, so I’ll definitely pursue that more. I’m thinking about law school for sure.”

In the meantime, Hutchinson said he’s looking forward to taking the field this fall nearly two years since Princeton’s last game.

“It’s going to be awesome to go out there in front of the fans and be out there with my friends for the first time in a long time,” Hutchinson said. “It’s going to be a great feeling to have family and friends at the game, a feeling we haven’t had for a while.”

Matt Hutchinson said he also can’t wait to catch a game this fall.

“I think it’s going to be exciting not only for the parents but more importantly for the players,” Matt Hutchinson said. “They’ve been waiting a year and a half for this. It’s going to be crazy, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Of course, Matt Hutchinson is pulling for his son to win the starting job at quarterback, but he said his advice for Joseph Hutchinson hasn’t changed since 2019.

“Just win the team,” Matt Hutchinson said. “That’s been my saying ever since he went to college, you have to win the team. Once you do that, everything else falls into place.”

Hutchinson is also the son of Kerry Hutchinson.

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