This Saturday's visit in Pullman is part of the College Football Hall of Fame's on campus salutes for new members.
Utley was a three-time All-Pac-10 selection at guard for the Cougs from 1985-88, his final two seasons as a first-team pick, and was named consensus All-America his senior season in 1988. He was inducted into Washington State’s Hall of Fame in 2004, and the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year Award carries his name.
Utley becomes the fourth Cougar player to enter to the Hall of Fame and sixth member overall, joining Mel Hein, Turk Edwards and Rueben Mayes. WSU coaches William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz and Babe Hollingbery are also in the Hall of Fame. (Forrest Eveshevski is as well, but mostly for his work at Iowa).
“This is very overwhelming,” Utley said earlier this year when he learned he had been elected to the hall. “Washington State University and head coach Jim Walden gave me an opportunity and I told him I would give 100 percent of myself. Playing for the Cougars was a wonderful experience and hopefully I’ve been able to pay it forward.”
Utley was named Wazzu's team MVP as a senior after anchoring one of the most prolific offenses in school history (No. 1 in Pac-10, No. 3 nationally in '88) including 3,000-yard passer Timm Rosenbach and a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Steve Broussard and Rich Swinton. Utley also led the Cougars to their first-ever win against a No. 1 team that season at UCLA and their 9-3 record that included a victory in the Aloha Bowl. WSU finished No. 16 in the AP poll in '88.
“My fondest memory of Washington State, and it was two different occasions, was the first time I ran out of the tunnel, in uniform, into Martin Stadium and the last time I ran through the tunnel into Martin Stadium,” said Utley. “That was always a special feeling but those two times continue to mean a lot to me.”
After a school record 43 straight starts, Utley was taken in the third round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He played three seasons in the NFL, starting the first 11 games in 1991 for Detroit before suffering a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest and elbows down. He has since regained the use of his shoulders, arms and hands, and has partial movement in his legs.
Since his paralysis, Utley has won dozens of awards for community service and his work with those suffering from spinal cord injuries.
He received the WSU Alumni Achievement Award in 2007 and the Walter Camp Man of the Year Award in 2006.
FROM THE CF.C ARCHIVES: The Energizing Eighties