WEST PORTSMOUTH — One doesn’t earn the nickname “Mighty Joe” by being a slouch.
Joe Igaz — the six-foot, five-inch, 330-pound two-way offensive tackle and defensive lineman — has been terrorizing opposing offensive and defensive fronts respectively during the better part of his four years as a Portsmouth West Senator.
At his signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon, Igaz signed his national letter of intent to trade in his black and orange Senator uniform for the blue and white of Urbana University to continue his education and football playing career as a Blue Knight.
“It feels great to keep playing the game I love during college,” Igaz said. “Growing up, football has always been my bes tfriend. When I was younger, I always dreamed of playing college football and now it’s coming true. It’s great to know that a sport can help you get a education; it pushes you to want to succeed.”
Igaz will be one of two local products in the high school class of 2020 to sign to play football collegiately at Urbana, joining South Point senior Grant Gifford, who also signed Wednesday.
For Igaz, it was the team and family atmosphere that ultimately swayed him toward becoming a Blue Knight over other possible landing destinations.
“I see myself fitting in great at Urbana,” Igaz said. “The first time I visited, you could feel the family tradition they’re trying to set there and that’s what I’m all about. In order to achieve something, you have to be able to do it as a team and know who you’re working with.”
During his time as a Senator, the West football program compiled a 21-22 record while posting a combined 16-7 record during his sophomore and junior seasons — with accompanying consecutive OHSAA state playoff appearances.
From the midway point in his sophomore season on, Igaz was a key cog in the Senators’ offensive line, which rushed for a combined 5,903 yards on the ground in that three-season span.
On the defensive line, Igaz finished his Senator career with 55 tackles and one sack turned forced fumble, which happened during his sophomore season.
“I will forever be grateful for the memories I’ve made at West,” Igaz said. “Throughout my four years, I’ve made some great memories, dealt with some great adversity that we’ve had to overcome, and made a bond that I’ll never forget. I love those guys with all my heart.”
Igaz said he plans to major in special education when enrolling at Urbana this fall, and hopes to become an intervention specialist upon graduation.
As for his future, Igaz knows that even when the transition from high school to college may be challenging, he’ll always have those around him to lean on.
“It feels great to have them supporting me on this journey,” Igaz said. “I know that when things get tough or difficult, I can reach out to them. I wouldn’t be who I am today without God, my family, friends and community.”
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