WHAT TO LIKE: Walter Rauterkus has the size, the frame, and the mobility. Those are the key attributes that were emphasized on the recruiting trail under the two-year stint of offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, and continued by new coach Ron Crook. West Virginia's five line commitments in this class stand 6-8, 6-6, 6-6, 6-5 and 6-5, so Rauterkus is right in line with the rest of WVU's offensive line verbals.
That doesn't mean, however, that Crook and WVU are just going out and getting big guys. Rauterkus also moves well, having played tackle for his entire football career. Whether he stays at that position or slides inside at some point int he future remains to be seen, but he has the versatility to be an effective blocker in both the run and pass games, and has shown the ability to play consistently well as a left tackle in high school.
Rauterkus plays in a spread offense very similar to that of West Virginia's, down to some of the same running plays, so he won't be learning an entirely new look when he comes to WVU. That familiarity should allow him to concentrate on technique and strength improvement.
POSSIBLE CONCERNS: The Ohio native didn't have a lot of offers, receiving just two Division I tenders (Ohio and WVU) prior to committing. Some issues about level of competition have also been raised, despite Avon's excellent football history.
Like most tall offensive linemen, Rauterkus will have to work on his technique out of his stance, and concentrate on staying in a natural athletic position in his initial steps rather than standing straight up. Again, though, that's something that just about every lineman has to work on when making the jump to college.
OVERALL ANALYSIS: Rauterkus won't be alone at WVU, as he will joing walk-on Michael Pulice, who is slated to be in camp on Thursday as a freshman. He also had good competition and talent alongside him at Avon, which sent Ross Douglas to Michigan, Ralph Smith to Ball State and several other players to smaller schools, including David Zeh to West Virginia Wesleyan. He comes from a program that's used to success, and one that has put multiple players into the Division 1 ranks.
It might be a couple of years before Rauterkus' name surfaces as a candidate for playing time at West Virginia, but that's true for about 98% of all freshmen linemen. He will have to prove that he has the ability to protect the edge in the passing game, and that he can get out to and contain speedy edge rushers and blitzers. He clearly has the physical abilities upon which to build, and it won't be a surprise to see him emerge in a couple of years as a 6-8, 320-pounder ready to make a challenge on the Mountaineer offensive line.