The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

February 2, 2013

Syvertson follows his dream, will walk on at West Virginia

BECKLEY — Shady Spring’s Houstin Syvertson has long been a Mountaineer fan. Now, he’s officially a member of the family.

On Thursday, the senior football standout made the decision to accept an offer to become a preferred walk-on at West Virginia University. He’ll enroll this fall and become a member of the team he’s always followed.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Syvertson Friday. “I cannot wait.

“It wasn’t a tough decision at all. I had other choices, but WVU is where home is and where I wanted to go.”

As Syvertson said, there were other possibilities on the table. Along with six visits to WVU — both official and unofficial — Syvertson took a visit to Rutgers, and he had one scheduled for Robert Morris.

But after one more trip to Morgantown last weekend, he canceled that final visit and made his decision.

“I think he has done the right thing,” said Shady Spring head coach Vince Cullicerto. “We’ve been talking about it for a while. They’ve called about him, and they even came by during the season to check on him. They showed a lot of interest.

“He was hoping to get a scholarship, but we talked about it and that usually doesn’t happen for a punter. But that’s where he’s always wanted to go and where his heart is. I’m glad to see him give it a shot.”

“It was a huge weight off my shoulders,” added Syvertson. “I was waiting and waiting, and that can kill somebody on the inside. But I talked with my parents about it and made my decision.”

A first-team all-state punter, Syvertson averaged 42 yards per punt this past season for the Tigers, including three that traveled longer than 50 yards.

But much to Syvertson’s surprise, WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen and former assistant Steve Dunlap — who was let go as an assistant coach last month but is now filling what Syvertson said is a role in high school relations — mentioned the possibility of playing other positions for the Mountaineers.

“At the time, I was thinking I would be a punter in college, but maybe not,” said Syvertson. “It surprised me a lot and made me even more happy to be part of the team. They can use me a lot of different ways.”

Those who saw Syvertson play in high school probably understand the Mountaineers’ thinking. As a running back, the senior ran for 779 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 35 passes for 423 yards and four more scores. He was also a standout linebacker, leading the team in tackles.

“Defensively, we knew he’d be an outstanding defensive back with his size,” said Cullicerto of Syvertson, who’s listed as 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. “When you look at kids in high school, a lot of times they play a different position, just because they have to. We used him as a linebacker, and he was a defensive end as a junior.

“We knew if we put him at safety he would be unreal, but we had to have him other places. But the sky could be the limit as a safety, and I’m sure that’s what they’re hoping.”

Wherever he plays, Syvertson has one clear goal in mind.

“I hope to work my butt off and earn a scholarship,” he said, explaining that the WVU coaches said he could still get one this year if some other targets end up turning them down and, if not, could certainly earn one later in his career. “I need one. I want to show them that I’m worth it and they can spend that kind of money on me.”

Syvertson said he’s considering athletic training or business as possible majors, and he’ll continue both his workouts and his punting practice leading up to the fall when he heads to Morgantown.

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Syvertson isn’t the only former Tiger looking to make an impact on the collegiate level. All-state quarterback Adam Weeks is also preparing to take that next step, although he’s still trying to make a decision as to exactly where his future will take him.

“He’s still up here throwing every day and working hard,” said Cullicerto. “He’s going to play somewhere. He’s still just deciding where.”

National Letter of Intent Signing Day is Wednesday.

— E-mail: chuffman and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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