Joseph Hutchinson

Lamar School quarterback Joseph Hutchinson, center front, is surrounded by fellow seniors Logan Lamar, left, and Shelton Gray, along with other Raider teammates after signing with Princeton Wednesday in the high school's library.

Lamar quarterback Joseph Hutchinson has been committed to Princeton since last August.

Wednesday afternoon, on National Signing Day, he followed through with his pledge by signing with the Ivy League university at a ceremony in the school’s library. Hutchinson, who took over as the Raiders’ signal-caller midway through the 2016 season, has helped lead Lamar to three straight MAIS Class AAAA, Division II championships in football.

“This is special,” Hutchinson said. “I’ve been working for it since I came to Lamar, for three years now, so to finally be able to say I can go play football somewhere at the next level is a blessing.”

The chance to do so at Princeton, which only takes top academic achievers, is particularly special, Hutchinson added.

“It’s a great feeling,” Hutchinson said. “You can’t go wrong. Academics are for sure a big part of that, and the athletics are just getting better and better. It’s a blessing for sure, and I just thank God, because I couldn’t do it without God.”

Raiders football coach Mac Barnes said it’s an honor for the school and program to have someone make it into Princeton and be able to continue playing football in the Ivy League.

“I thought he would get a lot more offers than he did, but even if he did, I don’t know if that would have changed anything,” Barnes said. “We’re just tickled to death. To get this offer from Princeton, it says two things: No. 1, it says in football they respect him enough to do it, and academically, they respected him enough to do it. Those two combinations are not found in very many players.”

Hutchinson, listed at 6-foot-6 and close to 200 pounds, has a good arm, sees the field well and has the frame to grow, making him an ideal quarterback prospect. There are lesser-known qualities to him, though, that would suggest he’s actually underrated as a player, Barnes said, despite his accolades at Lamar.

“Tangibly, he’s faster and a better runner than what people think,” Barnes said. “In the last two playoff games, we ran him about 20 times a night, and he had almost 200 yards rushing in those games. When he came here, other people said, ‘Well, he can throw it, but he’s slow,’ and I watched him run the first couple of weeks, and I said, ‘Slow? That boy is going to run 4.6, 4.7 (40-yard dash time) before he leaves here, and he ran 4.8 his junior year. I’m telling you, he’ll run a 4.6 before he leaves Princeton.”

Barnes also said there are intangible qualities to Hutchinson that will help him at Princeton as well.

“The intangible part of it would be the competitiveness,” Barnes said. “He will have to improve physically — he’s going to have to put on 15 to 20 pounds. This year he didn’t play all the sports, but when you’re a multi-sport athlete, you just don’t get a chance to put weight on. So, putting on the weight, becoming more durable and reading all the different coverages will be key for him. We don’t see a lot of different coverages in high school, so he’ll have to get used to that, but Princeton is similar to us in that they’re used to coaching kids that are pretty high (achievers) academically, so the schemes he can learn will be a real step up from what he’s been learning from us.”

With high school football now behind him, Hutchinson said he’s been grateful to be a part of three state championship teams and for the role he was able to have on those squads.

“It’s meant a lot to me, but I definitely couldn’t have done it by myself,” Hutchinson said. “I had great teammates around me and linemen and receivers and coaches. It’s just something I’ve been striving for having at the end of every year, and I’ve been able to reach that.”

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