Plenty of Speed

In the world of camps and combines, there can be wide variances in the "measurables" that each athlete produces. Differences in the running surface, the shoes worn by participants, the weather, and the timing equipment used can all come together to yield widely varying results.

Thus, when West Virginia verbal commitment Anthony Leonard was timed in 4.89 seconds in the 40-yard dash at one combine, McKeesport High School head coach George Smith wasn't concerned.

"I've seen a lot of slow numbers coming out of that one," Smith said of the relatively slow clocking at that event. "Anthony is very athletic, and he covers sideline to sideline for us. He's fast enough to play either inside or outside [at West Virginia], and I think he will be a great player.

"He plays both fullback and linebacker for us, and he started last year. He's a tremendous athlete, very agile, and has great speed. And he's a top of the line kid, too."

Smith especially believes that Leonard's personality and character fit in well with the type of player Rich Rodriguez is recruiting at WVU.

"He has a great attitude," Smith said. "That's the kind of thing that Coach Rodriguez is interested in. He's also very intense on the field."

Rodriguez would love to continue building his program with more players from the Pittsburgh-area school, which has a long history of sending players on to WVU. Mike Logan, Tim Brown, John Harper and Darnell Warren are just some of the McKeesport alums to make their way south across the border to become Mountaineers.

"Tim Brown was a linebacker on the Sugar Bowl team, and John Harper, who coaches with me now, was a good strong safety," Smith recalled. "All of those guys played for me, and they had good careers there. [On the new coaching staff], Coach Gibson has been recruiting here since Coach Rodriguez came in, and I've gotten to know him well. He's outstanding."

Gibson and West Virginia did such a good job in the recruiting process, and Leonard liked the Mountaineer program so much, that he decided to commit before his senior season. And while Smith typically like to see his players wait until later in the year to commit, he didn't have any objections to Leonard's decision.

"He came and told me he was committing to West Virginia, and it was clear he was really sold on it," Smith said. "He's been going down to West Virginia for two years. John Harper took him down once, and he's been down twice this year. He just liked it there, and it was right for him.

"A lot of players, I like for them to wait, but sometimes when they really feel it's right, I think it's o.k. [to commit early]. It's perfect for him, and plus, it's not far from McKeesport."

With one McKeesport player in the fold, West Virginia will now focus attention on Leonard's teammate, Travis McBride, who is also an outstanding Division I-level talent. McBride, who plays running back, has already gathered a number of offers, but Smith said McBride isn't as likely to make an early decision.

"I'm not sure, but I think he will probably wait," Smith said. "His uncle and brother played for me too. His brother is at a junior college in Kansas."

Smith, whose McKeesport squad will be long on skill position talent but undersized in the trenches, will use Leonard and McBride as much as possible to help overcome the size disadvantage his team will face this year.

"I've played Anthony in many positions, and that has helped him to become very knowledgeable of the game. He has great instincts too, which helps a lot. He'll play fullback in the wishbone and linebacker again on defense. We'll try to get out and move the ball around and get someone unblocked. Sometimes it can be a problem when you depend so much on your skill guys, but we have enough good players to spread it around."

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