Signing Day Yields Few Surprises

There were few, if any, surprises when the 2005 Mountaineer recruiting class was announced by head coach Rich Rodriguez on Wednesday afternoon inside the Puskar Center.

Rodriguez met with a throng of assembled media members in the Team Room to discuss the new signees, make an announcement regarding two current Mountaineers, and even poke a little fun at the up-and-down recruitment of five star running back Jason Gwaltney.

"Our staff did a good job again," said Rodriguez of the efforts put into this year's recruiting class.

Rodriguez noted that defensive end Thor Merrow, defensive back Trippe Hale, and wide receiver Carmen Connolly would all three most likely greyshirt. Also, a few of the recruits could possibly be non-qualifiers, meaning they would not be eligible to participate in football this fall, but could enroll in the school and pay their own way.

In addition to the 31 players signing today, Rodriguez announced that four young men will enter the program as invited walk-ons this fall. They are: Tony Belt, a wide receiver from Berkeley Springs; Mike Bilokinsky, a defensive end from Ohio; John Hardison, a linebacker from George Washington High School in Charleston; and Jeremy Maxwell, a tight end from Tucker County.

While the focus of the press conference was primarily recruiting, coach Rod also announced that linebacker Jeff Noechel, and fullback Brad Palmer have been awarded athletic scholarships.

Finally, in a light hearted moment, Rodriguez had a little fun with DA Sports Editor Chuck McGill. A few weeks back in his column, McGill stated that if Gwaltney chose to be a Mountaineer, he would eat a jar of mayonaise on the steps of the Mountainlair. The coach pulled out a copy of the column, and then presented a blushing McGill with a large jar of mayonaise, and an oversized spoon. More on this story as it develops.

There will be plenty of more recruting news and notes throughout the day right here on

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