By Cam Huffman
When Wes Lyons visited West Virginia University as a high school senior in the fall of 2005, everything seemed perfect. The Mountaineers were in the middle of one of the best seasons in school history — one that culminated with a win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl — and he was a 6-foot-8 recruit with scholarship offers from Miami, Ohio State and Oklahoma, among others, so the WVU program rolled out the red carpet to welcome the North Braddock, Pa., native to campus.
His next visit, as a freshman member of the Mountaineer football team in the summer of 2006, was much different.
Lyons’ first day in Morgantown was spent going through the most difficult workout of his life — led by then-WVU strength coach Mike Barwis — running sprints under rainy skies, listening to coaches curse at him and watching as two of the biggest players he had ever seen in his life fought in the middle of a workout.
“Imagine a 17-year-old kid seeing all that,” said Lyons. “I was the only freshman there at the time, and it was my first day. It was just crazy. I was like, ‘What is going on at West Virginia?’”
That was just the start of a journey filled with more peaks and valleys than the Mountain State itself, an experience Lyons chronicles in his first book, “The Pursuit with Patience,” released Tuesday in book stores and on Amazon.com.
Lyons’ career at WVU was filled with coaching changes — he played two seasons under the staff that had recruited him, before Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan and Bill Stewart took over — injuries that kept him from ever becoming the superstar he expected to be coming out of high school and games he’d like to forget.
But he also experienced the thrill of a Fiesta Bowl victory, four-reception afternoons against Rutgers and USF and playing in front of some of the most loyal fans in football.
“It was a positive experience for me,” he said, reflecting back on his Mountaineer career. “Everything that happened, happened for a reason. Going to West Virginia University was a blessing because of the support system they have there. I don’t think you can get what you get at West Virginia anywhere else. There’s something about West Virginia that does something to you. Even when I go back now, I’m filled with excitement and joy.”
After graduating a semester early in 2009, Lyons played professionally on the practice squads for the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He was released from the Steelers in 2011 and began writing the book.
“I just wanted to tell my story about overcoming adversity and encourage young people and athletes to read, as well,” said Lyons. “I feel like I’m an overcoming obstacle expert. It’s all about just moving forward, and if I can inspire one young athlete, it will be worth it.”
The book takes readers behind the scenes all the way from his childhood through the world of professional football and into his current career as a motivational speaker.
For more information on the book, visit WesleyLyons.com.
Lyons will also be doing a book signing this Saturday in Morgantown, prior to the Mountaineers’ game with Kansas. Lyons will be at the Evansdale Book Exchange from 10 a.m. until noon selling his book and signing autographs.
Former Mountaineer basketball star Kevin Jones is back in the NBA.
The Cleveland Cavaliers announced Thursday that former Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody had been waived and Jones had been signed.
Harangody recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is expected to be out another month. He played in 42 games the last two seasons for the Cavs, averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He had not played in a game this season.
Jones was signed by Cleveland as an undrafted free agent this summer but was cut at the end of training camp and assigned to the Cavs’ NBA Development team in Canton, Ohio. Jones averaged 27 points and 13.7 rebounds per game with the Charge.