By Ray Hamill — Former Eureka Logger Isaak Gutierrez is taking his talents to the next level after receiving a scholarship to play football at the University of New Mexico earlier this week.
The 2019 Eureka High grad, who anchored one of the greatest ever Logger football teams, is coming off an outstanding college freshman season at Butte, and has wasted no time in moving on to the Division-I level.
And for Gutierrez, the process came about very quickly.
New Lobos head coach Danny Gonzales, who was hired just last month, reached out to Gutierrez recently and invited out him for an official visit last weekend, immediately extending an offer to the offensive lineman.
Gutierrez came home to pack on Monday and left for New Mexico on Thursday morning, just a few days after receiving the offer.
“I think I’m ready,” he said, while traveling to Albuquerque with his father. “It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Judging by his performances this past season, Gutierrez would certainly appear ready.
After starting every game for the Roadrunners, Gutierrez received all-state honors at center, an outstanding achievement for a freshman.
Butte is one of the most respected community college programs in the state and Gutierrez says the coaches there helped get him ready for the next step.
“They prepared me very well,” he said, giving special praise to the school’s strength and conditioning program. “They did it like a four-year program.”
Gutierrez spent three days visiting New Mexico this past weekend, and knew immediately he wanted to play there.
“I just loved what they’re doing up there, and the culture they have,” he said. “They’re trying to do stuff the right way. They have a great tradition and a great culture there.”
The Lobos compete in the Mountain West Conference and will have high profile games at both Mississippi State and USC early next season.
Gutierrez is expected to immediately challenge for a starting place, although it might not be at his usual position.
“Right now they have a senior center and they want me to come in and try to earn my spot at guard and as a back-up center,” he said.
There is also a possibility he could red shirt in 2020, an option he says he would be glad to take.
“It wouldn’t be a bad option,” Gutierrez said. “To take advantage of all four years there.”
Overall, the former Eureka standout is relishing the opportunity and looking forward to the challenge.
And, in particular, Gutierrez says he is more than happy he landed with the Lobos.
“They’re really family oriented,” he said. “They’re more focused on making you a better person than just a better football player.
“Football doesn’t last forever.”
Gutierrez is still keeping his options open in regards to his major, but says criminal justice, or something in the health field, or a PE teacher are among his many options right now.