Relford Makes Early Decision

When Massillon defensive back Billy Relford got an offer from WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez, he didn't let it sit on the table for long.

"I was at WVU's camp last Saturday, and Coach Rodriguez offered me after that camp," Relford told "The offered me first, so I jumped on that."

At 5-9 and 170 pounds, Relford doesn't jump out at the casual observer, but on the field his performance more than makes up for his small stature. At tradition-rich Massillon, Relford has racked up 12 interceptions for 267 return yards and 2 touchdowns while patrolling the defensive backfield. He also had 12 catches for 247 yards, and ran back punts and kickoffs for the Tigers as well.

That performance, plus his early trips to West Virginia, made the Mountaineers an early frontrunner for the talented Ohioan.

"We went to West Virginia for for team camp two years ago, and I liked it a lot then, Relford said. "We skipped a year, and then we went to WVU again. I really liked the facilities there."

A number of other schools, including Pitt in the Big East, were very interested in Relford, but the early offer from WVU was too good for him to pass up.

"I really wanted to make an early commitment and get it over with, and have fun this year. I wanted to enjoy my senior year, and by commttting early I don't have to worry about it."

Relford has blazing speed - he claims a 4.3 and he has several recorded 4.4 times, so it's obvious that is one of his main attributes. However, it's not the only talent the Massillon Tiger brings to the field.

"My coaches say I'm a good tackler, and they say I handle my responsibilities well. I think I'm good at reading the quarterback, and I really like hitting too."

Physical play might not be the hallmark of a player who stands a few inches south of the six foot mark, but Relford says his childhood habits, plus some prodding from an uncle, put him on the path to being a big hitter.

"I always played with people older than me, and that helped me get better," Relford said. "My uncle Jason, who also played at Massillon, encouraged me to do that. I'm used to playing guys who are bigger than me.

"It doesn't really matter how big you are. You just have to get the job done."

While Relford figures to start out on defense, he says that he wouldn't mind a shot at playing offense. He plays wide receiver for the Tigers as well as defensive back, but admits that he leans a bit toward the defensive side.

"I probably like defense a little better - I like hitting people," Relford reiterated.

Relford also knows he has work to do between now and his arrival in Morgantown. In addition to working on hs strength, he hopes to grow a bit more during his senior season.

"I will need to work on my strength, but I want to keep my speed up. I think I can go between 180 and 185," Relford said. "The coaches want me to work on little things like staying in my backpedal and adjusting to the ball."

With his commitment out of the way, Relford is now looking forward to his senior season.

"We are looking really good," Relford said of the Tigers. "We lost a lot of starters, but we have a lot of speed. I think we'll be pretty good."

Relford also revealed that teammate Stephon Ashcraft, who as a senior last year at Massillon, will walk on at WVU. Ashcraft's intention to attend WVU had a bit of an effect on Relford, who says "it will be nice" to have someone at WVU that he knows when he makes the trip in 2004.

Relford squared off against Martinsburg's Brandon Barrett at WVU's seven on seven camp this year.

Relford is interested in coaching or teaching and plans to get his degree in the education field. He currently carries a 3.0 GPA and will take his first tests in September.

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