In His Father's Footsteps

West Virginia's latest football verbal commitment didn't think much about attending his father's alma mater until recently, but once the offer came, it didn't take long for him to continue his family's lineage in the Mountain State.

"I didn't think about it," defensive end Thor Merrow, son of former Mountaineer great Jeff Merrow said of following in his father's footsteps. "I thought it would be nice, but they don't have many players from Georgia. They have Pac Man, but I never played against him or anything. It's great. It's kind of like I'm going to keep the tradition going."

In fact, the younger Merrow had never been to WVU before making his recruiting visit last weekend. He did follow the Mountaineers, but didn't expect them to recruit him, much less offer a scholarship.

"[Last week] was the first time I have been there. My dad hasn't been there since 1989. He talked about his college years a little bit, but it wasn't like he was living in the past or anything. I know he had some good years there.

"On the official visit, he was like a little kid. I think he had more fun than me," Thor laughed. "When I decided to go to West Virginia, he and all of his friends and past teammates were whooping it up."

That excitement began building earlier this year, when assistant coach Steve Bird came to Buford High School to pick up game film of Thor and make West Virginia's interest known.

"Dad was at school when Coach Bird came up to get the film, and he was really excited to know that WVU was looking at me. I was happy too, because I knew that something good was going to come of it. It just all came together. When I got the offer, I wanted to think about it, and I did for a day, but I knew I wanted to go there, so it didn't take me long. No other offers or interest that I had matched it. I knew they had a good program. Everything is either brand new, or if it's not brand new, it's getting redone."

While some may look at Merrow's smaller size and wonder if he can compete on the Division 1 level, the senior Georgian has no doubts about his own ability. In response to questions on the subject, his natural aggressiveness comes out.

"Size doesn't matter," Merrow said forcefully. "I'll probably have as good technique as anyone coming out of high school. I play against Division 1 level competition every day, and I have the motor to compete with them. Size doesn't matter!

"Quickness is one of my best attributes, and it's what matters. It's the ‘get off' – how fast you can get off the line. You can be fast (Merrow is that as well, running a 4.5 40-yard dash), but you have to be quick. You have to have those first few steps – that's what matters."

Much of Merrow's outlook and personality is obviously a direct pass-down from his father, who was also known for his relentless style of play.

"A good bit of my attitude comes from my dad. He wasn't one of the biggest players either, but he played there and in the pros. The key is to play aggressively and use good technique.

"My dad was my coach all through rec league up through the 7th grade. And even now, when I come home, he's still coaching me, and pointing out things that I did wrong and can work on. He will always be my coach. He got me started off right. I was using swim moves when I was ten years old. I've watched a few of Dad's tapes, too. I know he has stuff he can teach me. He's made such a difference in my play."

Merrow knows that his size probably turned off a number of Division 1 recruiters, and now that West Virginia has offered and been selected, he won't be surprised to see other schools come calling.

"They are looking for the 6-4 kids," Merrow said of the reason for the low number of high Division 1 offers he received. "but West Virginia gave me the chance. I want to go to a school that wants me. If Georgia or someone like that calls now, it's over. I am not changing my mind."

Merrow racked up another ultra-productive year for Buford, recording more than 130 tackles. He also had nine sacks, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries for the Wolves.

Merrow might not be the last Mountaineer connection in the pipeline at Buford. He attends school with two of former WVU safety Tom Pridemore's sons, and he thinks that freshman T.J. Pridemore might have the talent to follow him north.

"I think he will be a player," Thor said of T.J. "He's a freshman linebacker and fullback, and I think he has what it takes."

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