By Ray Hamill — From rivals to teammates, some of the best talent from last year’s Big 4 will join forces this fall on one of the top community college football programs in the state.
Eureka seniors Tyce Mullins, Isaak Gutierrez and John Foster have all committed to play at Butte College in 2019, where they’ll join Fortuna standout Sheaden Kadle, giving the Roadrunners four of the best players to come out of this area this year.
It’ll be a big step up for all four, but a step each appears ready to take.
“That’s a place where you’ve got to compete,” Eureka head coach Jason White said. “You’ve got to show up ready, because that’s a place that has a lot of D-I kids.”
Mullins for one is looking forward to the opportunity and not taking anything for granted.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition,” the Eureka senior said. “Especially for my position, linebacker.”
The two-time national champion Butte program is known for producing top collegiate and even NFL players, including some of the greatest ever at their position, players like Larry Allen and Aaron Rodgers.
But it’s that tradition and legacy of greatness that attracted Mullins.
“They’re a really great team. One of the best JCs in California for years, and they send a lot of good players on to the next level,” he said. “And I definitely want to continue to a four-year university.
“I felt at Butte I could get looked at better.”
Mullins was the defensive MVP of one of the best ever Eureka teams, and a program that put together back-to-back undefeated campaigns on the way to reaching a state semifinal in 2018.
Likewise, Gutierrez has been one of the most dominating linemen the H-DNL has seen in recent years, as has Kadle, while Foster has grown in stature and was one of the stars of a 2018 Loggers team not lacking in them.
And all four have one attribute White thinks will be hugely beneficial for them with their new team.
“Butte plays physical,” the Eureka coach said. “But that’s what these kids do.”
Mullins says he’s looking forward to the new challenge and glad to be taking that step with teammates he’s been lining up alongside for the past decade.
“Those two are really talented players and they’re very hard working, and they’re dedicated to be great players,” he said of Gutierrez and Foster. “We’ve been playing together ever since youth football.”
The three teammates will live together when they move this summer, along with another star from last year’s Eureka team, Isley Tulmau, who will be taking a year off from football.
Mullins, who received numerous all-state and NorCal honors after an outstanding senior campaign, received offers from four-year schools, but felt Butte was the right place for him.
“I looked at all my options and I felt Butte gave me a very good vibe,” he said. “I like their team culture.”
That team culture was a big part of the Loggers’ success and the players’ experience at Eureka High.
And it’s something Mullins will remember most about his time playing there.
“I’ll remember the culture our team had,” he said. “We had a lot of success here at Eureka, and the brothers I played with were special, and the great moments we had as a team. A lot of memories.”
And for now, he gets to carry on building those memories with some of his teammates.
“I’m looking forward to representing Eureka football,” he said.