The first time Musselman’s Blake Hartman touched a football in a high school varsity game he was a freshman cornerback who returned an interception for a touchdown against Spring Mills.
Fast-forward to the present and Hartman is putting a bow on his prep career as a gridiron legend in the Mountain State — owning West Virginia high school football’s all-time scoring record and leading the Applemen within one win from an appearance in the Class AAA state championship game. It would be the first time the program has ever played for a Class AAA state title and the school’s first appearance in any football championship game since beating Bluefield 17-13 for the 1995 Class AA trophy.
Hartman — now a running back and safety — committed to play in college at Lehigh, a Football Championship Subdivision team from the Patriot League, in August. Recently, however, Hartman received a preferred walk-on opportunity from home-state West Virginia University. It has given the Musselman senior standout something to think about, but he said he remains firm in his verbal pledge to Lehigh — for now.
“Anytime you have your home state, big-time high-level football calling that is going to make you think a little bit,” Hartman told WVSN. “I’m still 100 percent with Lehigh. I’m not going to walk-on somewhere whenever I have a free ride to get an education at Lehigh and play D1 football at Lehigh. I’m still 100 percent with them, but it makes you think. I’m still going to look into it and think about it, but most likely I’ll still stay at Lehigh for sure.”
Hartman said WVU told him that in a normal year his offer would likely have included a scholarship.
“I was talking to [WVU assistant] Coach [Travis] Trickett and he said for now it’s a preferred walk-on [offer] but due to COVID — you know how everyone is allowed to have an extra year of eligibility — they don’t know who is staying and who is leaving,” Hartman said. “In a normal year, it would be a [scholarship] offer and I could go there right now for free most likely, but because it’s a different year they don’t know how many scholarships they have left and their main focus is on the high-rated recruits that they want to get in there right now. I’m very happy for the opportunity, but it’s just preferred walk-on for now [at WVU].”
West Virginia is not the only “big” school sniffing around Hartman recently as Cincinnati has also offered the Musselman standout a preferred walk-on spot.
“Like I told [Hartman] when I talked to him, he really can’t make a wrong decision,” Musselman coach Brian Thomas said. “He’s got a tough decision to make, but at the same time he’s in a really good place because he can’t go wrong with all the colleges and all the interest that he has.”
Musselman, the No. 3 seed in the Class AAA state playoffs, is scheduled to visit No. 2 South Charleston in the state semifinal on Sunday pending Berkeley County’s status on Saturday’s COVID metrics map update.