Early Opportunity

Although it seems like he's been in the program for several seasons, linebacker Marc Magro is just a redshirt freshman. But despite his relative youth, he's primed to be a big contributor to the Mountaineer football squad this year.

Perhaps it's his status as a hometown favorite (Magro attended Univeristy High School in Morgantown), or the fact that he seems to have set up permanent residence in the Puskar Center weight room, but it feels like the sculpted linebacker has been part of the program at WVU for a long time. Longer, anyway, than the 18 months which have elapsed since he signed the letter of intent which committed him to the Mountaineers.

Although he didn't play in any games last season, Magro's name was always popping up, whether it be for his dedicated, bordering on fanatical weight room workouts or his excellent play on the scout team defense. Now that Magro is set to actually get on the field, it's sometimes hard to remember that he's just a redshirt freshman.

The Mountaineer coaching staff certainly doesn't view him in that manner, however. Magro appears to have solidified his hold at second team mike linebacker behind Adam Lehnortt, and in addition to getting snaps there will also be a participant on special teams. Heady stuff for a player who admits that he didn't consider that possibility so early in his career.

"Coming in I didn't think much about [early playing time], but the opportunity is here," the 6-2, 240-pounder recalled. "I'm running with the second team now, and I'm just a redshirt freshman. But there's a lot of years left for me, and I'm just trying to pick everything up as fast as I can."

Achieving that goal, just like the ones he set for himself in the weight room, is uppermost in his mind.

"I've always been a hard worker since high school. My high school coaches taught me that. I hope my work ethic translates from the weight room onto the field, because I still have a lot of work to do there. I have a lot of learning to do."

That work ethic has quickly become something of a mini-legend around the Puskar Center, where Magro put in sweatshop-level hours to prepare his body for the rigors of Division 1 football. The results are easy to see, as Magro stands out, even among his peers, with his outstanding physical condition.

"The strength staff is really hard working, and they will help you get ready for the season," Magro said with typical understatement.

Now that he's achieved the goal of physical preparedness, Magro is turning his attention to getting more comfortable in the Mountaineer defense. He's in a great position, and says he is ready to take advantage of the opportunity to get onto the field this fall.

"I do have a senior in front of me right now, and I will learn a lot from him," Magro said of Lehnortt. "Our styles are somewhat similar, and for the most part, the mike linebacker in our scheme just goes downhill and plugs gaps, so no matter who is there the styles are the same. I have a lot of studying to do, but I'm going to get a lot of reps. I need to get my eyes right and my mind right so I can get in position to do what I'm supposed to do."

If Magro's answers sound a bit similar, it's only testament to the single-minded focus the former University High School star brings to the practice field and program. Whether it's on the field or in the weight room, Magro has his eyes only on improving and helping the team.

Where did he get that intensity and toughness which has sparked so much comment early in his career? Although he appears a bit sheepish about it, Magro admits that some childhood tussles with older sisters might have played a small part in developing those qualities.

"My sisters and I did fight a little bit when we were younger," Magro admitted with a laugh. "They didn't show a whole lot of mercy on me.

"Really, though, I think I just got it through Hawk football, and especially with the chance to play here at WVU," Magro continued. "You have to be tough."

Magro has proven himself to the players and coaches in the Mountaineer program, and now all that remains is the last giant step onto the field. As Magro said, he has a long career in front of him, but the playing phase of it is only two weeks away.

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