The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 12, 2011

WVU coaches hit the road

Holgorsen and assistants begin a week of recruiting

With a week off, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen and his assistant coaches will hit the road to begin a week of recruiting.

“We’re focusing on the area right now,” Holgorsen said. “For evaluation purposes, it’s area. This one week, we’ve designated as our off week, and we’ll send all 10 coaches out, me included. That’s an NCAA compliance thing. Everyone goes and hits his area. Everybody’s got an area, and everyone will be out focusing on his area.

“When it gets into the contact time, which is December and January, that’s when the philosophy changes a little. You’ve got to narrow down toward position guys and that sort of thing.”

This week of recruiting is anything but the normal routine, what with West Virginia seemingly shut out — so far — of the ongoing conference realignment and with Pitt and Syracuse (WVU’s next opponent a week from Friday) jumping to the ACC and TCU to the Big 12 before it even played a Big East game.

West Virginia seems to have its back against the wall.

Syracuse and Pitt can sell the ACC.

TCU can now sell the Big 12 as opposed to a watered down Big East.

What is Holgorsen selling to recruits?

“We’re going to continue to recruit the same people and sell what we have as opposed to who we play,” Holgorsen said Tuesday. “To me, it’s more the place where you’re at and what you have to offer.

“West Virginia, not only from a football standpoint, but men’s and women’s basketball from the product that coach (Mike) Carey and (Bob) Huggins put out on the court, it’s a very attractive situation.

“The support is here, the finances are here, the facilities are here but can get better. The product is pretty good.”

WVU hosted 12 recruits during the Connecticut game — a 43-16 Mountaineers’ win — and all walked away impressed with exactly what Holgorsen pointed out.

Four of those recruits were from Miramar, Fla., the home of quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney. Miramar is coached by former Mountaineer linebacker Damon Cogdell.

Two are big-time players. Tracy Howard is considered one of the top cornerback prospects in the nation, and receiver Malcolm Lewis is a four-star recruit.

Both are said to be very interested in WVU.

Holgorsen, with Texas ties, was asked if he thought TCU bolting the Big East before it played a conference game would hurt recruiting there.

“I never bought into that, to be honest with you,” the coach said. “I know who recruits Texas, and I know where guys from Texas go to school. They go to school for reasons other than ‘I get to play TCU.’ There’s something to be said here at West Virginia for, ‘I get to go play West Virginia’ as opposed to ‘Golly, I get to play TCU.’ I never bought into that.”

A week after a blistering commentary on the lack of fans at the Bowling Green, Holgorsen said he was happy with last Saturday’s crowd.

“It was a great environment. It’s what we’re after,” he said. “The kids hit the field, and there was a lot of excitement. It looked like everyone was having a heck of a time out there tailgating and enjoying the weather and enjoying a good product on the field. I know the 12 recruits that were here had a heck of a time. It all ties in. If you missed it, it’s a shame.”

It’s not really a bye week for the coaches.

And Holgorsen and his coaches will sell to recruits exactly what the university does offer.

“People want to come to West Virginia because of what you see,” Holgorsen said. “The atmosphere, the excitement, what you’re putting out there on the field, what the athletic department brings to the table, perennial Top 20 programs in football, men’s and women’s basketball.

“Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of it? The geography is fantastic; the landscape is fantastic. Why wouldn’t West Virginia be attractive from a conference realignment standpoint and from a recruit’s standpoint? I firmly believe that.”

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