Being the first to offer a scholarship to a prospect often holds a great deal of weight, and West Virginia's list of verbal commitments over the past few years is littered with success stories of just that type. However, that's not the only way in which WVU has been able to fill out its roster – a fact that was clearly illustrated when Albert Reid became the eighth verbal commitment in the Class of 2012.
"I had never really thought about West Virginia until they offered me this spring," said Reid. "I didn't think they were showing any interest in me. But one day this spring they came to school to see me, and even then it didn't hit at first because I was taking an AP exam. But they came back, and saw me, and said all they wanted to do was see my size and how I moved, and that was enough for them. They offered me around the beginning of May, and that's when I started talking with them."
"When I talked with Coach Gillespie and Coach Roberts, they seemed like good people to be around. They were just very cool. That's what really got me thinking about West Virginia. Then when I came down for a visit, it was great. I had a tour of the campus and the facilities, and I met with an academics advisor, because that's something that is very important to me. I just fell in love with the whole place, and that's when I decided to commit."
Reid will bring a wealth of talent to West Virginia, which he has developed along two very different paths. He is a long-term running back, having played the position throughout his career, but a newcomer to the safety spot he has manned for the last two seasons.
"At running back, I know how to set up blocks and read blocks," he said of his strengths. "I can put people in a position to make them miss, and once I do that, I have a good burst off my first step.
"On defense, I just started playing defense my 10th grade year," he continued. "My coach, Aazaar Rahim, played defensive back for San Diego State and in the Arena League. He has trained a lot of defensive backs, guys like Joe Haden and Nate Bussey, that went on to the pros. He has taught me everything about playing defense, how to read the quarterback's eyes, and how to read the offense. I know where the ball is going, and that's one thing I think I am really good at."
Reid's admiration for his coach is obvious.
"When I came to this high school, I knew it was a great place to be. Coach Rahim pushes us to be the best, but we have fun too. He sets up tough schedules for us, so when it comes to game time, we get down to business."
Reid's school (fully titled the Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School) is a public school open to any student in Washington, D.C., and has more freedom in setting its curriculum than most public schools. It's no diploma mill, however, as it is part of a Charter School Network that, according to its website, includes "longer school days and years, more intimate learning environments, and preparing children for college from the earliest age". Reid has taken advantage of that learning system to post a 3.4 GPA, which puts him in great shape to qualify academically.
There is one drawback, however. FCA's independent status means that it does not play in a league, so there are no playoffs or city championships at stake for Reid. He notes, however, that his team schedules 10-12 games per year, and that the freedom to schedule whom they like results in great competition and preparation.
"I think we will be pretty good this year," he said while considering his team's prospects for his senior year. "We have a hard schedule like always, but I think we will do well."
Although Reid noted he didn't have any contact with WVU prior to the offer he received a month ago, he does know some Mountaineers.
"The twins from Dunbar, Veranrd and Vance Roberts, I played against them, and against Avery Williams too," he said of three current freshmen on the West Virginia roster. "I know Brandon Napoleon too. We're both going down to play for our teams at a 7-on-7 tournament this weekend at Rutgers, and I've been talking to him on Facebook a lot since we committed. It will be good to have some people there that I know, and they'll push me to get better when I get there."