By Cam Huffman
Isaiah Bruce is going to be a starter. After finishing his freshman season on the West Virginia University football team ranked No. 12 in the Big 12 Conference with 94 total tackles — enough to earn him Freshman All-America honors from Phil Steele, collegefootballnews.com and FoxSports.com — WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson aren’t about to try to keep the linebacker from Jacksonville, Fla., off the field.
Where Bruce will line up, though, is a question. After starting 12 games at Sam linebacker in 2012, Bruce has spent some time on the outside during the last few practices.
“They have had me all over,” said the former Florida state champion in the 300-meter hurdles. “I have mostly been playing on the outside and just a little bit on the inside. This is just exploratory at this point and seeing where everyone can fit on the line. If they feel like it will help the team, it may become permanent. If not, then I will play more middle.”
The move really has little to do with Bruce. It’s more about getting the best linebackers on the field at some spot, and Bruce’s versatility allows him to be flexible.
“If you know the middle, you should know the outside, as well, because the same principles apply for our type of defense,” he explained. “It really should not be about depth. Everyone should know everything.”
There are some critical difference’s though, and if the Spur is Bruce’s new position, he’s excited about his new responsibilities.
“I like it,” he said. “I get to rush a little big more. I haven’t rushed off the edge since 10th grade. It is a little bit more fun right now, even if we are in camp. I am just taking it all in.
“There is less traffic on the outside and so much more space. I fell, sometimes, I am just away from everything, but I need to be a little more patient. If the ball is going away, I need to stay and be patient, because there is always a chance of cutting back. And if he cuts back, that’s my play.”
Both WVU and Marshall University have been selected among the 15 contenders in Southern Living’s second annual competition for The South’s Best Tailgate.
Each of the contenders will be featured in the September issue of Southern Living, which will hit newsstands on Aug. 23.
“In the South, pregame celebrations matter as much as what happens on the field,” said Southern Living editor-in-chief Lindsay Bierman in a release. “We’re asking readers to decide which school best honors our great tradition of Southern hospitality with the most stylish and spirited spread.”
The universities were chosen based on the ones that were the most spirited, traditionalists, powerhouses and style setters.
Fans can vote for their favorite up until Sept. 30 by visiting southernliving.com/tailgate. One vote per person per day is counted toward the final tally, and the winner will be crowned at a home game this fall.
The other finalists are Appalachian State, Clemson, Florida State, Louisiana State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech.
Former Webster County High School start Brett Morris, who joined the WVU basketball program as a walk-on has left the program. He has enrolled at Glenville State College and plans on playing for the Pioneers.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.