Pennsylvania Lineman Makes Early Choice

West Virginia has dipped into Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley for yet another recruit, and this one made the Mountaineers his choice after receiving an offer over the summer.

Jake Figner, a 6-4 290 pound offensive lineman from Northwestern Lehigh, made his commitment to West Virginia on Sunday. The big Pennsylvanian recieved an offer from WVU after attending their rising senior camp in June.

"I was planning on waiting, but I sat down with my dad and we decided that this was the place to be," Figner told "The camp was the first time I had been down there, and everything was great. The training facilities and the stadium were great, and I really liked the town and campus too."

West Virginia has gotten a number of players form the Lehigh Valley over the years, the most recent being Bethlehem Catholic's Adam Bednarik. Like many of those players, Figner was well aware of the Mountaineer program.

"I've always known about West Virginia. I've seen them on TV a lot. And, they had the big turnaournd last year," Figner noted.

Figner's home area has long been noted for tough, physical football with back-to-the-basics coaches, so it's not surprise that he pick WVU. His offensive line coach in waiting, Rick Trickett, and his recruiting coach, Bill Kirelawich, are both cut from that very mold.

"I liked Coach Trickett a lot," Figner said. "The coaches I have up here are very similiar - they respect hard work and they don't take any egos. they expect you to work, and if you do they know they will get results. I'm impressed with Coach Trickett."

Before he comes to West Virginia, however, Figner has his senior season to go, and it's one in which he hopes to duplicate last year's results. Northwestern went 11-3 in 2002, and made the state eastern semifinals in Class AA.

With a number of returning starters, Figner believes that "we'll be in the hunt again" for the state playoffs.

Finger is playing right tackle in high school, but would be comfortable on either side of the line.

"I'll probably play tackle in college, and I've played both sides here. I don't have a preference, and I can play either side.

The big lineman also has a bit of an unusual major - biochemistry. That might not be out of the norm at WVU, however, which has seen several players, including linemen, go on to become physicians, so Figner should fit right in.

"I've always been a science guy. Chemistry and the sciences have always been interesting to me. One of my football coaches is my chemistry teacher, so that might have kept me interested even more.

"There's a lot of information in both," Figner said of the similarities between football and the science world. "You have to study both hard, and you can't make mental mistakes."

Figner has obviously already been doing that, as he has his qualifying scores already in hand.

On the field, he has received interest from Iowa, Penn State and Harvard as well as from a number of smaller schools such as Cornell, Lehigh Bucknell and Colgate.

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