When the season started, Mario Urrutia wasn’t even a starter.
When it ended, he was the 2013 Arena Football League Rookie of the Year.
The 6-foot-5 Utah Blaze wideout received the honor Thursday evening and is the first player in team history to win the award.
“[Urrutia] has the savvy of a veteran receiver and is capable of changing a game on any given play,” said Blaze head coach Ron James in a statement. “Mario certainly deserves this award, and we’re extremely proud of him.”
Urrutia had a sensational start to his AFL career, opening the season with eight consecutive multi-touchdown performances. He surpassed the 100-yard mark in eight games and led all rookie receivers in every statistical receiving category.
Urrutia is the most productive first-year player in Blaze history, as he topped previous franchise rookie records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
He hauled in 1,675 yards with 39 touchdowns on 142 receptions in 17 games this year. Urrutia also finished seventh in the AFL in scoring (13.9) and successfully converted eight two-point attempts, more than any other team combined.
Urrutia finished fifth in receptions and receiving yards in the AFL this season, as well as sixth in receiving touchdowns.
“I’m honored to receive the Rookie of the Year award,” Urrutia said. “It wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of my teammates and coaching staff.
“Winning this award was a goal of mine, and I look forward to checking off a championship next season.”
Urrutia, from Louisville, was selected in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, and also spent time with the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.