MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bluefield running back Mookie Collier has been named the 2017 MetroNews High School Football Player of the Year after leading the Beavers to an 11th football state championship and perfect season.
“To win this award is such a blessing,” Collier said. “I was speechless and I just thank God. There was some amazing talent around the whole state with Jeremy Dillon, Tyson Bagent and Jadon Hayes.
“The team, school, community and my family really appreciate this,” Collier said. “Winning the state championship was our goal and this really tops it off for all of us.”
The senior speedster averaged an incredible 14 yards per carry on the year, rushing for 2,237 yards and 33 touchdowns on 162 carries. He also caught eight passes for 191 yards, finishing with 39 total scores on the season.
“To me, he’s the best player in the state, bar none,” said Bluefield coach Fred Simon. “It’s been a pleasure for myself and all of our staff to coach him – we’re really going to miss him.
“He is the best player and showed it on Friday night (in the Class AA state championship) and throughout the postseason,” he continued. “What a great player. Thank you for awarding him something that I truly think he deserves.”
The MetroNews Player of the Year award was voted on by a panel of 30 radio broadcasters and sportswriters across the state. The voting scale awarded three points for a first place vote, two for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote.
Collier edged Martinsburg senior quarterback Tyson Bagent for the honor, receiving 15 first place votes to Bagent’s 11 — he collected 65 points overall to Bagent’s 61.
It’s Bagent’s second straight year finishing as the runner-up, again receiving the most votes among players out of Class AAA.
Huntington senior running back Jadon Hayes was third, garnering three first place votes. Last year’s winner, Mingo Central quarterback Jeremy Dillon, finished fourth.
Ohio State line commit, and junior, Doug Nester out of Spring Valley received a first place vote and came in fifth, followed by South Harrison senior running back Freddy Canary, the highest placing player out of Class A.
Other players receiving votes of some kind included Capital quarterback Kerry Martin, Fairmont Senior running back Bryson Gilbert, Bridgeport running back Jake Bowen, St. Marys running back Jaiden Smith, Wheeling Central quarterback Curtis McGhee and Midland Trail running back Thomas Ferris.
Collier, meanwhile, was used sparingly at times throughout regular the season in terms of carries as the Beavers often took control of games prior to the half.
“We knew what he could do, we just had to have the blocking to give him a few little creases – and we got that from the split ends, the backs and the line,” Simon said. “What was so amazing about him was his attitude.”
In the opening round playoff win over Braxton County, Collier totaled 106 yards and a touchdown on just four carries, an average of 26.5 yards per touch.
“Once we got leads, he had no problem coming out and letting some of the younger men get some experience,” Simon said. “His goal was to win at whatever cost – it didn’t matter about the stats.”
But the stats still kept piling up — especially in the postseason. Collier averaged 220 yards per game and scored eight combined touchdowns in Bluefield’s quarterfinal, semifinal and state championship wins.
His semifinal effort of 294 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Bridgeport — on just 17 carries — cemented his case as a leading contender.
He followed that up with 199 yards and a score on 26 carries in the title win over Fairmont Senior, also sealing his team’s state championship with a defensive stop late in the game. His touchdown run in that title game, fittingly, came from 60 yards out.
“That run was setup perfectly by the line,” Collier said. “(Receiver) Ronnell Blevins is probably one of the best blockers we have on the team.
“He’s a team player and doesn’t really mind not getting all kinds of receptions,” Collier said. “He did his job out there blocking and the line did an amazing job, which allowed me to score that touchdown.”
Collier, listed at 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, also ends his career as Bluefield’s all-time leading scorer.
“I never could have imagined being the all-time leading scorer with the athletes that we’ve had come through here,” he continued. “I give all the credit to the teammates I’ve had each year.”
It’s Collier’s overall speed and athleticism that should garner attention from the next level.
“I’ve been getting a couple of schools calling and coming in to talk to me,” Collier said. “I’m just being patient about it, leaving it all in God’s hands and not trying to worry about it. I’m just trying to enjoy the rest of my senior year and hopefully God will open up some more doors.”
Regardless, the senior standout has left a permanent mark on Bluefield’s football program, and now, around the entire state as well.
“I think his potential is unlimited,” Simon said. “He’s not even touched what his weight could be. I guarantee he could easily put on 20 pounds with a good weight program.
“It’s hard to tell what he could do,” he continued. “He’s a great kid, he’ll work hard and he’ll be at school for any coach four-years-plus. You can’t go wrong with him. Anyone who doesn’t take him is crazy.”
More accolades will certainly come for Collier and his teammates as basketball season takes over — the Beavers are expected to be pretty good there as well — but it also will be difficult to top the overall ride of the past four months.
“Nothing is ever guaranteed and anything can be taken away,” Collier said. “I’m just so thankful for everything God has blessed upon me.
“Not only did I win this Player of the Year award, but the whole team did – the coaching staff and the school as well,” he continued. “They deserve it as much as I do and I thank my coaches and teammates for making my senior year of football so amazing.”
Collier follows Mingo Central’s Jeremy Dillon who took the honor in 2016. Point Pleasant’s Cody Mitchell won the award in 2015, South Charleston’s Kentre Grier in 2014 and Madonna’s Ross Comis in 2013.
Some of Collier’s state championship highlights and comments on winning the award are posted below.