Typically, I use this column as a space to share my opinions on issues concerning the Mountaineer athletic scene, but today I'm off in a bit of a different direction.
Following the combine and camp season, I have a number of tidbits and notes that aren't big enough for an article on their own, but still need to see the light of day. Thus, the tried and true notebook format in this edition of the KinderGarden.
We often forget that the coaches and players at WVU are people, too. We tend to view them through the microscope of their performance on the field and along the sidelines, and often don't pay attention to the human side of the equation.
Those watching the seven-on-seven passing camp last weekend got a reminder of "the other side", however, as they watched the sons of a pair of Mountaineer football assistants play for Morgantown High School. Chance Trickett, son of offensive line coach Rick, and Bryson Magee, offspring of running backs coach Calvin, both put on nice performances as their fathers looked on with interest. Trickett made the defensive play of one game with an interception and return for a score, while Magee, who played largely on defense, showed his father's genetic influence with a great catch along the back of the end zone that was ruled just out of bounds. That led to some kidding for the elder Magee, but it was nice to see, and to be reminded that these are guys with families and lives beyond football.
While the vast majority of people working out at the Puskar Center this summer are Mountaineer athletes, a few are those that have moved on from their WVU careers. Defensive back Lance Frazier, who currently holds a roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys, is working out in preparation for the opening of his camp in late July, while Rasheed Marshall, who just signed a four-year contract with San Francisco, is also scheduled to return to Morgantown for workout sessions prior to his preseason camp.
I've already said it a couple of times on the radio, but rising junior quarterback Charlie Russell of Morgantown is the real deal. Great form, stands tall, surveys the field well, makes a read and gets rid of the ball with a beautiful, classic overhand throwing motion.
Some observers believe that Russell doesn't fit WVU's offense, which has featured dual threat players that can both run and pass. Russell is a classic dropback quarterback, a factor that has led some to jump to the conclusion that he couldn't be successful in the Mountaineer scheme.
Like many other snap judgments, however, this one is way off base. First, Russell is by no means a stiff. While he doesn't run like Major Harris, he can certainly move, and his size will make him a formidable opponent when he does tuck it and run. His frame calls Jeff Hostetler to mind – another QB who, while looking to pass the ball first, could certainly do damage on the ground.
Second, those who think that this offense can't adapt to a pocket passer are simply ignoring history. At Glenville State College, this selfsame offense allowed players like Scott Otis and Jed Drenning to put up all kinds of records and earn conference player of the year honors. Does anyone really think that Russell couldn't do the same?
Morgantown High School is loaded. In addition to the players already mentioned, the Mohigans have a bruising fullback/linebacker in Max Anderson, and a transfer receiver from North Carolina who could be another star. Eric Sneed, who moved to Morgantown last winter, was an impressive target for many of Russell's passes, and could be another weapon for MHS this fall. Throw in a stout offensive line, and they are the heavy favorites in Class AAA again this year.
Eastern Kentucky has become something of WVU west during the past few months. Assistant men's basketball coach Jeff Neubauer started the parade by taking the head coaching job following WVU's NCAA run, and that seemed to start a parade to the Colonels' campus. Football graduate assistant Shane Sams is taking a GA spot with on-field coaching duties there, and former wide receivers coach Steve Bird has also reportedly landed on the staff.
Former Mountaineer receiver John Pennington has a couple of different options in front of him, both involving athletics. A standout prep baseball player, Pennington has tried out for a couple of independent teams and is working out while trying to catch on with an independent league. He also has at least two job opportunities to coach football at the collegiate level, including a graduate assistant spot at, you guessed it, Eastern Kentucky.