Moving from WVU hoops to football recruiting
WHEN I spoke to West Virginia University's latest basketball commitment late Wednesday night, I couldn't help but be surprised.
Liberty Raleigh big man Levi Cook, a mere 15 years old, gave his reasons for picking the Mountaineers. He gave his reason for picking Wednesday night of his sophomore school year to give his word.
And it wasn't for the standard reasons, that he liked the campus or the fans or the coach. "It was my Papaw's dream for me to commit," Cook said. "He's in heaven now, but [Wednesday] was his birthday. I thought this was the best present I could give him."
I've been covering WVU for 30 years now, yet that stopped me. Behind all the greed and cash grabbing in sports, hey, someone out there still has a heart. It was nice to hear.
Coincidentally, the conversation came on the heels of another I had with WVU recruiting coordinator Ryan Dorchester.
I'd called to ask about an ESPN article that asked this headline question: "WVU taking over Pennsylvania?" The subhead claimed that "with Penn State's sanctions and Pitt's struggles, Mountaineers make move."
Dorchester was somewhat miffed.
"I don't know how they can say that," he said. "We think we're doing OK, but are we exploiting? Explain that to me. I mean, are we going to recruit harder? There's no way we can recruit harder than we already are.
"To me, that's an asinine statement. Of course we're going to try, but just because you say you're going to try [and exploit the situation] doesn't mean it's going to happen."
WVU currently has four commitments from the Keystone State in safety Daryl Worley of Philly, quarterback Chavas Rawlins of Monessen, linebacker Hodari Christian of McKeesport and running back Deshawn Coleman of Hermitage.
You've read here before that one of Rawlins' buddies is Tyler Boyd, a four-star wide receiver and safety recruit from Clairton, Pa. But the Mountaineers are also on Monaca four-star receiver Robert Foster and four-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson. They are considered the top two players in Pennsylvania.
Whatever the case, you might be interested in a snapshot of WVU's football recruiting if you have better things to do than keep track of kids' whims 24-7-365.
As it stands, West Virginia has 14 commitments for the 2013 letter-of-intent signing day. The Mountaineers have four running backs in the fold in Wendell Smallwood of Elkton, Md., Zaire Williams of Erial, N.J., Coleman and Elijah Wellman of Huntington. You might see Wellman listed as a linebacker on some recruiting websites, but he's being signed as a back. Likewise, you might have seen Jackie Marcellus of Immokalee, Fla., listed as a running back, but he's been recruited as a wide receiver.
"We only have two scholarship running backs returning," explained Dorchester. "We've got Dustin [Garrison] and [Andrew] Buie, so ..."
It's time to go running back hunting. Dorchester said all schools are currently in an evaluation period that runs through Nov. 24. On the Nov. 25, a contact period begins.
He also said WVU coaches were on the road last week to Florida, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
"During this time we can't talk to kids," Dorchester said. "We can just go to games, get transcripts, etc.
"I don't think having an off-week [last week] was a good or bad time for recruiting. It was fine. There was Labor Day in there and that kind of stunk because it was a Monday. But it was fine."
He said a task now is to line up official visits.
"All schools are different," Dorchester said. "We kind of stay away from visits during the season because we're so busy with the games that we don't get to really visit."
Dorchester, by the way, said the Mountaineer staff has only stopped recruiting the quarterback position. That makes sense with Rawlins on board and Paul Millard and Ford Childress waiting to step in after Geno Smith leaves.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.