There is the genteel, easy-going, introspective Adam Korutz, a young man who comfortably, confidently offers a smile and a handshake before sitting for a chat about sports and education, ambitions, leadership and work ethic. Seldom more than a couple breaths away is the next “Yes, sir” from his mouth.
And then there is his alter ego, No. 33, padded up and pumped up, inexorable, willing and — at a ripped-solid 6 feet 3 inches and 280 pounds — certainly able to play impactful, at times dominant football for Johnson City High School. Equal parts bruiser and sportsman, he’s a whistle-to-whistle thumper ever mindful of exhibiting class along with crash.
His definition of a football player?
“You’ve got to have the mentality,” he said. “You’ve got to love to hit people and you’ve got to love to be hit. It’s a physical game — that’s just how it is. And a football player works hard at his craft, he wants to make every play, within reason.”
Oh, and there’s this: “I’m not a nice guy when I’m on the field. I’m going to hit you with everything I’ve got.”
That is as either tight end or defensive end, first-unit positions he’ll man for a third consecutive varsity season beginning with the Wildcats’ Sept. 4 opener at Waverly. A senior and honor roll student, Korutz will captain JC’s squad for a second consecutive season, a role he fulfills earnestly.
The young man is a presence, large, thick and chiseled. Given his on-field production to date and the gains he’s made through offseason diligence, he figures to be among the most conspicuously effective athletes in the Section 4 Football Conference this season. And JC’s big boy will stand out for another reason.
Know any others hereabouts who’ll play collegiate ball in a division with the likes of Clemson and Florida State?
Korutz has made an oral commitment to don the maroon and gold of Boston College, that choice made off a short list that included Northwestern and the U.S. Military Academy. “Great academics with Power Five football in the ACC. Can’t beat it,” he said of Boston College.
What began as the dream of a 5-year-old frolicking in flag football at CFJ Park and transitioned into a legitimate goal sometime around sophomore season will, barring something unforeseen, become reality.
It was during his sophomore season that Korutz’s potential caught JC coaches’ attention, and they suggested that he had the makings of an athlete who could play at the next level. And so, as he recalled, “If they see it then there must be something to it, so I’d better start working at this, try to get better.”
Not long after, he was introduced by a family friend to Joel Davis, erstwhile Army lineman who went on to a stint as offensive and defensive line coach at Binghamton High. An introductory dinner at Red’s Kettle Inn spawned a relationship that connected the pair for three-a-week, two-hour workouts, with Korutz and at times teammates grinding under Davis’ oversight. Davis’ mentoring has included technique work — stance, proper use of the hands and other skills — helping him bone up for a likely switch to tackle when he arrives at Chestnut Hill.
Following his sophomore season, Korutz, with aid of his dad, created a video highlight package that was distributed to collegiate programs. Northwestern extended the first scholarship offer, and subsequent interest came from ACC, Ivy and Patriot League programs.
Given the mounting football opportunities, he backed away from basketball and lacrosse to go all-in on his No. 1 sport, the one in which his passion flows and his competitive, aggressive nature is allowed to flourish.
“There’s nothing like it,” is how he described applying the perfect hit. “That’s what separates football from a lot of other sports. It’s just an awesome feeling when you’re able to make that hit, get a tackle for a loss, cause a fumble. You hear the crowd cheering and having a good time — it’s all awesome.”
As for when it becomes evident that, yeah, he’s got the number of that guy across from him? “Usually you know within the first few plays if you’ve rattled his cage a little bit,” Korutz said, citing can’t-miss signs such as an opponent’s facial expression and body language.
Yes, he’s been known to get the better of a foe or three, in part through utter refusal to let up.
“I think he’s a special talent. You could see when he was a sophomore, he had the size and the frame,” said Owego coach Steve Virkler. “He obviously has put in the time and effort to develop his game. From what I’ve heard, he’s a terrific young man who’s a very, very good football player.
“Watching on film and playing against him, he doesn’t give up on a play. He’ll come off the edge and if it’s away from him, he’ll chase it down.”
It isn’t all about football for Korutz.
Quality time with family and friends is highest on his list, and on occasion he’ll let loose on the dirt trail aboard that Kawasaki 125. Pre-football camp, he toiled through a second summer as a laborer at Calvary Cemetery. That mostly called for tending to the grounds, but there was a grave to help dig here and there or a casket to house in a mausoleum.
But now, it’s football time. A couple of weeks away, it’ll be for-real strategy and technique and contact and all the things that put Adam Korutz in his element. A year down the road will come the real challenge, when he’ll line up in BC practice gear alongside teammates who, like himself, were top of the pile in their respective high school settings.
“I understand I’ll be at the bottom of the food chain and I’ll have to work my way up just as I did here,” he said. “That’ll come through hard work and dedication, doing extra stuff, studying film, learning the system.”
Stevens can be reached by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @PSBKevin.
The Korutz File
Favorite Meal: “I’m a steak-and-taters guy, that’s my go-to.”
Favorite movie(s): Friday Night Lights; Saving Private Ryan.
Sports venue he’d like to visit: Soccer stadiums of Real Madrid and/or FC Barcelona soccer franchises.
Sports personality past or present he’d like to speak with: Vince Lombardi.
Favorite football team: New York Giants.
Players whose style he emulates: Lawrence Taylor; J.J. Watt.