Family and football have always gone hand in hand for Hunter Maynard.
As a young child he grew up in and around the Jonathan Alder High School football program thanks in large part to his grandfather Barry Blackstone being the head coach of the Pioneers. Those Alder teams were annual playoff regulars and Maynard got a full-fledged gridiron education growing up.
That love of the sport never left and neither did his connection with family. On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Maynard signed to play college football at Division II Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C.
The head football coach at Limestone is former NFL wide receiver Mike Furrey, Maynard’s uncle. Also on staff are his grandfather Barry Blackstone (Running Backs Coach), great uncle Larry Blackstone (Defensive Coordinator) and former Alder head football coach Steve Coate (Offensive Assistant).
Current Alder coach Brett Glass, who played for Blackstone, and coached under Coate remembers Hunter as a toddler being at practice years ago.
“This is a huge day for Hunter and his family,” Glass said. “This is especially special for me because when I played high school football here for Coach Blackstone, Hunter was 2-3 years old and coach would throw a ball out there and Hunter would run and jump on the ball. I think Hunter learned to recover a fumble before he learned how to walk. It’s been a pleasure to watch him grow up.”
Maynard, who was surrounded by family at his signing in the Jonathan Alder gymnasium Wednesday, said family ties definitely played into his college decision.
“It’s a pretty big deal, I just like where I’m going down to, I have a lot of family down there,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting started.
“My uncle who played in the NFL is down there coaching at Limestone, he called me up and wanted to know if I wanted to come down and play. There were some other schools around here that were talking to me, but I just knew that’s where I wanted to go. My grandpa and his brother are down there also coaching so having family around will be nice.
“I can go throughout the school day and just go and visit my cousins, you also have your family that is the football team. It’s almost like having two families down there. The team and my family.”
Maynard will look to continue to play linebacker in college, but his high school coach believes he will excel at wherever he’s asked to play.
“He’s a great kid from a great family, just a competitor, a hard-nosed kid who will do whatever you ask,” Glass said. “I think linebacker is definitely where he transitions to at the college level. His size and the way he moves will serve him well in the future.”
Maynard had a couple significant injuries early on in his high school career. Those setbacks however helped him become the player and person he is today.
“He lost most of his freshman and sophomore seasons to injuries,” Glass said. “His junior year he really came on and was a two-year starter for us. I just think a lot of kids see the injures as negatives, I’m sure he did at the time. But overall it became a positive for him because he had to work against something, because it wasn’t always easy for him.”
Maynard was a special mention D-IV All-Central District selection this past fall as well as a second team Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division selection.
“We won our conference two years back to back,” Maynard said. “I’m looking forward to taking that winning tradition with me down there.
“The bonds I have made here are strong. I’m looking forward to making even more down there. I will go down there meet new people and make new bonds. I’m looking forward to it.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.