By SETH STASKEY
Times Leader Sports Editor
Selecting a college is often times the toughest decision a high-school senior has made in his life.
But, most will say when it feels right, go with it.
Such was the case for St. Clairsville quarterback Matt Kinnick, who signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and football careers at West Virginia State in suburban Charleston last week.
"It was a long, hard process," Kinnick said. "I felt really comfortable when I went down to visit, the coaching staff was great, and I am looking forward to helping their program get turned around."
Kinnick, 6-1, has been told by the newly hired Yellow Jackets' coaching staff that all jobs are basically up for grabs, meaning he'll be given every opportunity to win the job and get on the field as a true freshman.
"They don't know many of the players, so I am looking forward to going down there and competing," Kinnick said. "I know I have to prepare myself mentally and physically for the college game. I have to put on some weight and get ready to adjust to the speed of the game."
Kinnick was a two-year starter for the Red Devils in their fast-paced, wide-open spread attack.
After a brilliant junior season, Kinnick really took off this season in helping to engineer an offense that scored nearly 50 points a game in marching all the way to the Division IV state final before falling to Clarksville Clinton-Massie, 46-36.
Unlike some of his Red Devils' teammates on that football team, Kinnick doesn't play a winter sport, so he's had plenty of time to digest and reflect on the accomplishments of the football season, which included a Buckeye 8, OVAC and Region 15 championship. Plus, the Red Devils dethroned defending state champion Creston Norwayne in the state semifinal at Massillon's Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
"Looking back on it, it was a great accomplishment for us," Kinnick said. "It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed every single minute of it. We talk about it a little bit already. I think the state semifinal was the most exciting game. Just playing the defending state champs at Massillon was great."
For the season, Kinnick passed for 3,428 yards and 41 touchdowns. He was also an effective runner, rushing for eight touchdowns.
As a junior, Kinnick threw for 2,667 yards and 27 touchdowns.
The most important stat, however, is Kinnick owned a 24-3 record as the starting quarterback.
"This is a culmination of Matt's experience at St. Clairsville and his athletic ability," said St. C. head coach Brett McLean. "He had a great senior season and I really believe West Virginia State is getting a real gem. I think Matt found a school that's special to him and I can only hope he takes some of the things he learned here at St. Clairsville on with him and achieve great things in the future."
Before settling with West Virginia State, Kinnick was considering Malone and Alderson-Broaddus.
"When it came down to it, I felt most comfortable with West Virginia State and went with it," Kinnick said. "Having this decision out of the way is a big load off my back."
Kinnick is a letterman in baseball, but has elected not to go out for the diamond this spring, instead he'll focus on preparing himself for next fall.
Matt, who is the son of Mike and Judy Kinnick, is undecided about his major.