Gibson key in wooing Henry to WVU
On Monday, West Virginia picked up arguably the marquee piece of its 2014 recruiting class, garnering a commitment from Aliquippa (Pa.) athlete Dravon Henry, who chose the Mountaineers over former Backyard Brawl rival Pittsburgh.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound prospect is both an all-state running back and all-state defensive back, earning a four-star, .9467-rating in the 247Sports Composite as the nation's eighth-ranked athlete and the top player in the state of Pennsylvania, regardless of position.
With all of that, it was no surprise that he held offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and dozens more. Ultimately, though, it came down to the two schools closest to home, Pitt and West Virginia. Panthers fans felt confident throughout the process, in large part due to the history of Aliquippa sending kids to Pitt. However, the key in the recruitment process was Mountaineer assistant and ace recruiter Tony Gibson.
"You can tell when you're talking with someone and look them in the eyes, you know if they're lying," said Henry when recalling why he chose WVU after in-home visits with both programs last week. "And Coach Gibson was straight up with us."
Henry's mother, Shanell, concurred, screaming with joy at the announcement - a surprise for her birthday.
"I never told Dravon where I preferred him to go. I just wanted him to go to a school where I could look a coach in the eyes and tell if he had my son's best interest, and I didn't feel that way about Pitt," she told 247Sports on Monday. "When I looked Coach Gibson in the eyes, I felt like he was a family man. And that's very important."
Another aspect that played into Henry's decision was the current state of both programs. While West Virginia finished the year 4-8 and Pitt went 6-6 and is heading to the Little Caesars Bowl, the Henry family delved deeper to hear what current players and their families had to say.
"It was one of those things where if you really want to get the meat and potatoes of both programs, the players are going to give it to you raw and uncut," said Roland Henry, Dravon's father. "There were a lot of things [told] to us by players that were not too good about the Pitt program, whereas the West Virginia players gave us a lot more upside."
Although those quotes are rightfully getting a lot of run both in Morgantown and Pittsburgh, Henry's decision came down to just getting "that feeling."
"I think his mind was kind of made last Tuesday," Roland Henry said. "I think he felt it in his gut, and that's what I always told him - go with your gut [because] usually your gut ain't wrong."
Ultimately, Henry agreed. Even with the positives and negatives at both schools, the highly touted prospect listened to his father - as well as his cousin, NFL cornerback (and former Pitt Panther) Darrelle Revis.
"[They said] when you feel that relief, you'll know you've made the right decision," Henry told 247Sports. "That's pretty much what everybody told me, and when I talked with West Virginia, I just felt like I was at home and I didn't have to worry about anything."
Henry will begin his career at cornerback, but is also capable of playing safety and will be used on special teams. He plans to take his official visit to WVU on Jan. 31 with the majority of the other commitments in the 2014 class.
Chris Anderson covers West Virginia and recruiting for Eersports.com via 247sports.com.