By Cam Huffman
If Quincy Wilson had his way, the Weirton native would probably put the pads back on and head onto the field with the Mountaineers for the season opener Aug. 31 against William & Mary. And by the looks of it, he’s probably in shape to do just that.
But the 32-year-old’s college eligibility is long gone. His West Virginia University football career — which included 2,608 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns — ended with a 1,380-yard rushing campaign in 2003.
So if he can’t get the ball back into his hands, Wilson is doing the next best thing.
Now in his second year as WVU’s assistant director of football operations, Wilson is loving his new association with the program.
“It’s family,” said Wilson last week, while in Summersville with 90 football players participating in a community service project. “It’s great to be back and great to be a part of West Virginia football.
“It’s awesome. I throw out ideas, and they’re receptive to it.”
Wilson’s day-to-day responsibilities vary. One day he might be working on a meal plan for a player, and the next evening he may be providing tips to a West Virginia High School coach.
“I handle a little bit of everything — housing, tickets and different issues that come up,” said Wilson, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2004 and played three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. “I deal with compliance, parents and everything you can think of.”
He also sits in on the daily coaches meetings, soaking up as much knowledge as possible.
“Our staff meetings are A to Z, and I’m getting the blueprint of what it takes to run a program,” he said. “If I ever am fortunate enough to be a head coach or an assistant coach, I know what it takes to do it.
“I would love to coach one day. I love recruiting and all that. But for now, I’m trying to gain as much experience as I can. I’m gaining an appreciation, because I’m so new to it. Seeing the ins and outs and being involved in the camps is what I love to do.”
Wilson, who played for both Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez, experienced two very different coaching style during his Mountaineer career, and now he’s learning a third, the unique attack of WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen.
“We ran the spread (under Rich Rodriguez), but this is the air raid,” said Wilson, still most remembered by Mountaineer fans for his run against Miami, when he took a screen pass from quarterback Rasheed Marshall, avoided tackles from Vince Wilfork, Sean Taylor and Jonathan Vilma, plowed over safety Brandon Meriweather and then hurdled the Miami defensive back on his way into the end zone for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. “It’s a little different. It’s a little more pass, and we were a little more run at you and stop us if you can. It’s unique to mix them. There are so many creative guys on our staff.”
Being a member of the Big 12 is also quite different for Wilson, who spent his playing days in the Big East, but the former Doak Walker Award semifinalist was confident that the Mountaineers are settling into their new home.
“It’s different, but I think the feeling out stage is over,” he said. “Now we’re moving toward the goal of trying to win a Big 12 championship and a national championship, eventually.”
Reaching that goal will take some some contributions from some new faces, but Wilson said that’s just life in college football.
“We’ve been spoiled where we’ve had guys coming back for three or four years,” said Wilson, who earned an athletic coaching education degree from WVU in 2003. “It’s sort of the new regime’s time to lead. I’m excited to see who’s going to be the next generation of great players. There was me and Rasheed. Then it was Pat White and Steve Slaton and then Tavon (Austin) and Stedman (Bailey) and those guys. It always happens. I’m just excited to see that next generation of Mountaineers and who’s going to step up.
“I can’t wait.”
— E-mail: chuffman
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.