West Xtra: Western Beaver's Blinn proves prolific at Bethany

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During an inconsistent 2013 football season at Bethany College, wide receiver Eric Blinn was quite consistent for a Bison team that finished with a 4-6 record that featured two separate three-game losing streaks.

But while the Bison stumbled, Blinn, a Western Beaver High School graduate, flourished. He caught 95 passes for 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns.

In just two seasons, Blinn, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior, has amassed 2,090 receiving yards, scored 14 touchdowns and amassed 508 yards in kick returns. All told, Blinn has rolled up 2,645 all-purpose yards.

Those figures did not go unnoticed as he earned first-team All-Presidents Athletic Conference honors, third-team All-South Region honors last season and second-team preseason All-American honors from the USA College Football Network and Beyond Sports Network for the upcoming campaign.

All heady stuff, to be sure. but Blinn, a 20-year-old criminal justice major, is taking it all in stride.

"My teammates and my coaching staff put me in a great position to be able to make plays for my team," he said. "It moved up from the offensive line to the quarterback to me."

While the Bison offense will be the same as last year, there will be some key changes in some of the components. Gone is quarterback Matt Grimard. He completed 258 of 425 passes for 3,100 yards and 23 touchdowns.

"We'll run the spread offense, even with Matt leaving," he said. "We don't know who the new quarterback will be yet."

The only QB returnee with any experience is junior Jake Riddell, a Laurel Highlands graduate, who completed all four of his pass attempts for 19 yards.

So, it's a battle that has definitely gained the interest of Blinn and the rest of his teammates.

"We have a few guys fighting for a spot right now," he said. "And we have some freshman coming in who will compete. It's all up in the air."

When he isn't catching passes, Blinn again will be returning kicks and punts for the Bison. Although he didn't return any punts or kickoffs for touchdowns, he has high hopes for this season and the next one.

"I felt I was close a few times," he said. "But I didn't get a chance to break any of them."

While the battle rages for a new quarterback, Blinn said the winner of that competition will have plenty of experience to work with on the offensive side of the line.

"They are very skilled and also experienced," he said. "We have the best two running backs in the conference in [seniors]Brandon Hill and Phil Acrie.

Remarkably, the two have both run for 929 career yards and scored nine touchdowns.

"We're very deep in the wide receiver position with [junior] Jaylen Jennings and [senior] Chris Collins. Our coaching staff is very confident in them. They can make plays and break any play at any time."

Bethany hosts perennial Division III power Mount Union at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 6. Blinn welcomes the opportunity to play against the storied opponent.

"We're up for the challenge," he said. "It will be good to see where we are at the beginning of the year and see how our hard work has paid off. But we have to be consistent.

"We beat [Washington & Jefferson] and Waynesburg last year and W&J won the conference title. Then in the following two games, we lost to Westminster and Thiel. We need to be consistent in what we do week in and week out."

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