The Buffalo Bills' fan numbers are about to see a major spike in Park City.
Kyle Mutcher, a three-year varsity starter and all-state player for Park City High School's offensive line before becoming an All-American in Division I-AA at Weber State, was signed by the Bills on April 24 to a 3-year, $1 million contract.
The process of getting signed to play on Sundays started back in January for Mutcher, who hired San Francisco-based agent Ken Vierra to approach teams on his behalf. Mutcher had already been featured on many draft boards as a potential late-round pick, but he broke his ankle in his last game at Weber State and lost value.
"That was the hardest part," Mutcher said in a phone interview Tuesday. "My draft stock was so good before that happened. Any red flag like that, in the NFL, will be earmarked. They want you for longevity."
Many teams still showed up to see his pro day workouts and interview him one-on-one, and he credits The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) for getting him in shape so quickly.
He held out hope that he might yet secure a late draft pick, but Weber State's Tim Toone was selected as the final pick in the seventh round, and Mutcher had to settle for the free agency route.
"Bummed," he was put in touch by Viera with a fellow client, 12-year-NFL veteran and PCHS alum Barry Sims. Sims, whose jersey is retired and is honored atop the press box at Dozier Field with a sign, plays guard for the San Francisco 49ers.
"The first thing he said was, 'So what you didn't get drafted. You can still go out and have a 12-year career like me.'" Mutcher said. "That helped."
It was only three minutes after the draft ended when he got a call from the Bills. He decided to accept their offer, which included $10,000 to fly him out for a three-day camp for first-year players on Thursday.
"For a first contract, that's pretty typical," Mutcher said. "The second contract is the one that you play for."
The affable Miner began playing at age 9 and immediately decided to pursue a professional career if his talent could take him that far. He was one of the state's top linemen in high school and drew some Division I interest, including a full-ride offer from Idaho State and walk-on propositions at Utah, Boise State and San Diego State. But Mutcher wanted two things: to stay close to home, and to play right away. Only Weber State could offer both.
"It's not the big-time college football lifestyle," he said. "But my family could watch me play."
Injuries hampered his freshman season in 2006 playing left guard, but things brightened up the next year, when he was named the Big Sky Conference's Newcomer of the Year after a move to center.
He was first-team all-Big Sky as a junior, then became Weber State's first consensus first-team All-American despite playing in just eight games last year as a senior. Listed at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds as a Miner, Mutcher's weight now varies between 295 and 300.
"I've seen five other guys go to the NFL in my time here," said the construction management technology major who hopes to use his professional football windfall to start his own company. "I'm definitely proud to be one of that group."
Mutcher, whose younger brother Calvin played for the last two years alongside him in Ogden, will return to Park City for two weeks after the first-year camp. Then he'll head back across country to spend his June in Buffalo for yet more training.
The Bills will take all of July off to recharge their batteries before the final grind, which begins in August at fall camp. That's also when Mutcher will have to earn his money - no guarantee - by beating out the Bills' backup last year for a spot on the final, 53-man roster. He has been told his chances are very good, but that he'll have to work for it.
"What a lot of people don't realize is that even (No. 1 overall draft pick) Sam Bradford isn't guaranteed a spot on the team," Mutcher said. "He can come into camp and be cut."
Mutcher said he's excited to play with first-round pick and SEC superstar C.J. Spiller, a projected running back/slot receiver/kick returner in the mold of New Orleans' Reggie Bush and Minnesota's Percy Harvin.
"I really like physical play," he said. "The Bills definitely bring that to the table. Their offensive line is big, tenacious and physical."
The best part, however, will always be back at home.
"I'm a true local boy," he said. "More than anything, it feels good to see people at the grocery store and at the bar who are proud of me."