Getting To Know You

As future West Virginia football players butted heads for the last time as high schoolers during the recent Big 33 All-Star game, many of them were already looking forward to their college careers.

And although players such as Ben Iannacchione, Mortty Ivy and Ryan Stanchek appear big enough to fear nothing, the unknowns of going away to college, not to mention competing with established Division 1 players, had to be weighing more than a bit on their minds as they competed in their final high school game last weekend.

Remember the first time you went away from home? Whether it was going to college, or moving out and getting your own place and entering the workforce, the process of leaving the nest was a tough one. Now, imagine you're not only doing that, but going to play a sport and attempt to prove yourself against guys that are 3-4 years older and light years more mature and experienced. You're on your own, and although you're going to have teammates, coaches and support staff to help you along, the whole deal looks intimidating.

Fortunately for those players in last week's game, however, they have a bit of a leg up on that process. In addition to meeting each other and banging helmets in practice, the six WVU-bound players in the Big 33 contest also got to hang out and get to know each other during an annual event held by Bill and Cindy Parrish, who have hosted a player from the game for the past four seasons.

This year, the Parrishes had WVU-bound Mortty Ivy in their home for Big 33 week, but they also held a cookout prior to the game for all the Mountaineers-to-be in the contest, and included families and friends as well. That seemingly small event was a big hit with the players who will, in less than two weeks, be hitting the practice field at West Virginia for the first time.

"We had a picnic earlier today with all the guys going to West Virginia, and then got to beat each other up tonight, so it was fun," said Stanchek after Ohio's comeback win. "Also, I'm good friends with Pernell Williams and Chad Mayse - we played in the Ohio North-South game and we bonded pretty well."

Having a few friendships in place before embarking on the much more difficult world of college football was very important to all of the WVU signees in the game. Going into the unknown is one thing, but doing so alone only adds to the stress. Having a familiar face alongside will certainly serve to ease the pressure.

"I didn't know anyone before I got here, so the picnic was great," Ivy observed. "We got to hang out and get to know each other. Everyone was cool.

Ohio linebacker Chad Mayse agreed with that assessment.

"It was awesome to get to hang out with everyone before the game," the Mentor product said. "I had met some of the guys on recruiting visits, but getting to hang out with them before the game was fun. We all got in some shots about our teams before we go down to West Virginia as teammates.

"I'm going to room with Pernell Williams, so I've already met him and know him a little, so that definitely helps," Mayse said of the early introductions.

So, for at least of few of the incoming recruits, Sunday, August 8 won't be quite as stressful as it could be. And while none of the players believe that they'll have everything figured out in the early days of practice, they will have a bond with someone that will make it easier to get through it.

"I like it that I will have some friends going in," Ivy said. "I know I will have some people I can communicate with and talk about things with."

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