Justice Rawlins has always enjoyed his trips to West Virginia, but his spring trip this year was made without the company of his brother, Chavas, who enrolled at WVU in January. Of course, Justice and Chavas connected on the trip, but it was still a new experience for the Pennsylvania linebacker.
"I didn't see a lot new, but it was different that way, because this was my first time there that I went around without him," the younger Rawlins said. "I did learn a little more about West Virginia on this visit. They told us a lot about the history of the state and the school."
That focus, educating current and prospective players on Mountaineer tradition and the strong ties between the school and the state, has been a staple of the WVU program since the end of last season. It's a key link in the recruiting strategy going forward, and one which the Mountaineer staff hopes will attract those looking for a "family feel" and strong connections between players and the program.
Rawlins has already gotten a good look at that, both through the recruitment of his brother and his own trips. He attended West Virginia's camps last year while rebounding from knee surgery, and took in games last fall as well. His visits might be curtailed a bit this summer, though, as he is heavily involved in another sport.
"I'm playing travel baseball, and that takes up a lot of time," he said. "I pitch, catch and play third. Growing up, baseball was my first love. Now I love football too, so I guess you can say I have two. I might try to play both if I can work it out."
Given WVU's recent baseball success, that could be an option, although the year-round demands of both sports might be too much for any collegian to handle. Still, that option, and the potential of college baseball, gives the Monessen rising senior multiple paths to follow to a college education.