Altoona grad to play college football all-star game

Tyler Futrell is happy for one more chance to play in a college football game.

The former Altoona Area High School and Ohio University standout will participate in the Ohio vs. Michigan Senior Bowl Saturday in Canton, Ohio.

The 6-0, 185-pound Futrell will suit up for the Ohio team in Saturday’s game, which pits senior college football players from all divisions in Ohio against their counterparts from Michigan. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium, which is located across from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I’m exhilarated about getting one more opportunity to play the game that I love,” said Futrell, who caught 28 passes for 422 yards – a 15.1 yards-per-carry average – and two touchdowns as a senior wideout at Ohio University in the 2012 season, while helping the Bobcats to a berth and subsequent victory in the Independence Bowl. “I thought the bowl game would be my last one, but now I get one more opportunity to play the game that I’ve always played. When the [Senior Bowl] game director, Todd Oliver, called me and asked me if I was interested in participating, I immediately said ‘yes.”’

Futrell is hoping that he catches the eye of a National Football League scout or two at the game.

“I believe there will be [NFL representatives] there,” he said. “It’s an all-star game, so I’m sure that people will be paying close attention.”

Futrell participated with some of his Ohio University teammates in the school’s football Pro Day this past March 20.

“It was pretty much like a combine, where you ran the 40 (-yard dash), did the bench press, vertical jump, all that good stuff,” Futrell said. “It involved players from our Ohio Bobcats team, and a few surrounding colleges. There were NFL scouts there from Cincinnati, Houston, Oakland, and Indianapolis.”

Futrell, 23, a 2008 Altoona Area High School graduate who will get his degree in health service administration from Ohio University this May 4, has hopes of someday becoming an NFL player. But because Ohio University had a surplus of talent at the wide receiver position – with four wideouts from the school in the past three years eventually seeing NFL playing time – Futrell’s college playing time was limited until his senior year.

“I’m pretty much taking whatever comes my way at this point,” Futrell said of his future football endeavors. “I sat behind a few [future] NFL players here leading up to my senior year, so I wasn’t exactly on the field as much as I wanted to be. But in my senior year, I definitely held my own, and I played to a very high ability.”

Futrell was joined on the football team at Ohio University by his Altoona teammates Alfonso Lewis, a linebacker, and Neal Huynh, a nose tackle. Playing college football with athletes who he also played high school football with enriched the Ohio University experience for Futrell.

The Bobcats went 9-4 in the 2012 season, upending Penn State, 24-14 in the season opener and achieving a Top 25 ranking with a 7-0 record at one point in the season. The Bobcats capped off the year with a 45-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

“We got off to a 7-0 start last year before 18 season-ending injuries put a damper on our season,” Futrell said. “But it’s all good. Coming here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Coming here with two other Altoona graduates provided some familiarity for me, and I am happy to be part of a graduating class here that won two bowl games and helped take the football program to a level that it had never been before.”