Ready For Action

Recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Herb Hand is anxious to get back on the field as spring football practice begins today.

"It is nice to get back out on the field and see how they have developed," Hand said of the team. "I know they've put in a lot of hard work in the weight room, so I'm excited to see how they look on the field. Hopefully we'll get some nice weather."

Hand's enthusiasm is understandable, as he has a deep stable of players to work with this spring.

"We're fortunate at tight end. We have three guys returning with starting experience with Ryan Thoms, Josh Bailey and Tory Johnson and some good young ones in Jason Hardee and Adam Serena.

"It's a deep position. It's kind of funny, because two years ago people would have laughed if we had said that because they thought we were going to do away with the tight end. It allows us to be a lot more multiple from an offensive standpoint."

As is the case at almost every school, tight end is not going to be a featured position in passing game at WVU, but Hand and the offensive coaches are working on getting a few more passes throw the tight ends' way. His charges showed what they could do in the Tennessee-Chattanooga game last year, when they caught four balls for 85 yards.

Overall the tight ends combined for 19 catches for 243 yards last year.

"We're trying to incorporate the tight ends into the passing game a little more, and do some things to involve them in the offense more from a formation standpoint," Hand noted. "The big thing we require them to do, though, is block for the great running backs we have. Hopefully we'll get a ball or two thrown our way, but we're going to do what it takes to win.

"The UTC game we had quite a few catches, and that had to do with some things we saw from a schematic standpoint and some mismatches we had," Hand said as he analyzed the early success the tight ends enjoyed last year. "Our guys made some nice catches in that game. Hopefully we'll get some more opportunities to do that."

Hand's "other" duties as recruiting coordinator are a constanct adjunct to his on the field coaching responsibilities, and that would seem to let him in for an even greater workload. However, he says that the Mountaineer staff does an excellent job in their own recruiting duties, and as a result he isn't overburdened with work from that end.

"I don't micromanage recruiting," Hand said. "We've got a great staff, and each guy is really the recruiting coordinator of his area. My job is to oversee the process of it and make sure things run smoothly from a compliance standpoint, and take care of all the administrative and organizational details.

"It probably doesn't take up any more time that if I were the offensive or defensive coordinator. I have my own area to recruit too, and I still spend more time at that than I do coordinating."

With the rehiring of defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich, Hand will yield eastern Pennsylvania, which was Kirlav's area for many years. Hand will continue to recruit spots in New York and New Jersey, and will add parts of Florida as well as junior colleges to his list.

Although Hand is quick to credit his fellow coaches for making his coordinator duties a bit easier, one look at the mountains of tapes and recruiting notes he works with shows that he does quite a bit of his own work in that arena. The Mountaineer staff is in the process of whittling down thousands of rising seniors into a more manageable list of players that they will recruit more heavily over the summer and fall, and Hand has the job of making sure that process runs smoothly. And although he clearly likes the relationship building that is part of the recruiting process, it's easy to see that he relishes getting back out on the field.

"It's good to get back with the guys who are already in the program, rather than the ones that aren't yet."

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