"I thought he was one of their better players," he said. "He would flash, he'd be running by people, but he'd readily admit that he missed a lot of plays. We're trying to get him under control; he's a very athletic guy, fast. But you've got to play in a controlled manner sometimes."
Free safety becomes an even bigger issue, and the door may be open for redshirt sophomore Shawn Samuels. The 5-10, 194-pounder from Bainbridge, Ga., is getting a chance to show why schools such as Arkansas pursued him before he became a nonqualifier.
Among the other candidates, junior-college import Taj Letman is as intriguing as any. An Elberton, Ga., native who attended Holmes Community College in Mississippi, his 6-3, 180-pound frame gives him an edge on most - if he uses it to his advantage.
"He's a big ol' guy," Heater. "Six-3 is great, but 6-3 has got to function like 5-11. A big, tall guy sometimes has trouble getting their feet in the ground and transitioning. But he's been decent."
Heater himself becomes an "X" factor. He is new to the Thundering Herd staff and knows the fans want a winner and want it quickly, and he is trying to parlay his experience to that end.
So far, Herd defenders are buying into Heater's style, particularly those in his position room.
"If he tells me going to get a loaf of bread every night will make me a good safety, I will listen," Hunter said. "I've got nothing to argue back to him about, because he's been there, he's done that. I mean, he's got 37 years of experience."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or at twitter.com/dougsmock.