Elliott Departs Mountaineers For Fairmont

WVU skills development coach Rusty Elliott has accepted the head football coaching job at his alma mater.

Elliott, who came to WVU only last year as the new skills development coach for the Mountaineers, returned to his roots by accepting the head football coaching position at Fairmont State College.

Elliott had been an assistant coach for the Falcons in various capacities over the past 14 seasons, so his return to Fairmont is not a big surprise.

Elliott recently talked to the Blue & Gold News about his duties as skills development coach, but also noted that the Fairmont State job was in play.

"I don't think it's any secret, at least to the people in Marion County, that I am interested in the job," Elliott told Greg Hunter of the Blue & Gold News. "When the job opened, I was interested in it. I talked to Coach Rodriguez about it, and he was very helpful and very supportive. He said, ‘I know that's your dream job, and I'll do anything I can to help you.' That's very nice of him, because he's provided me a great opportunity here. I'm very happy here, and I wouldn't even think of leaving for another job except probably this one. One of my goals has always been to be the head coach at Fairmont State, and I'd love to have that opportunity. But if it doesn't work out, I'm in a great situation here. It's really a win-win situation for me, because I can't go wrong either way."

Before Elliott departed, however, he built the foundation of West Virginia's skills development training program, which is a new twist on traditional strength and conditioning training methods.

Most schools incorporate some small form of these drills into their normal strength and conditioning program, but WVU head football coach Rich Rodriguez took it one step further with the hiring of Elliott last year.

"Coach Rodriguez called me up last summer and explained that he wanted to try something new," explained Elliott, a native of Mannington. "In the winter time, everyone lifts weights and gets stronger, and everybody works on speed. But Coach Rodriguez also wanted to work on things that will make a person a better football player as well, as far as running our routes, defensive backs backpedaling and breaking forward, linebackers shuffling to the right or left, breaking backward and forward. We want to work on all the different developmental things that they need to do for their specific position.

"The offensive and defensive linemen work on lining up and coming off the ball. In talking with Coach Rodriguez, he asked me to come in and develop such a program. That's what I've done; I've developed a program for every position on the team, including punters and kickers.

"A lot of players may not get all the fundamentals in high school. A defensive back may not be able to back pedal and then open up his hips and run and also change direction. My job is to show them how to do it properly and with efficient movements."

""We break them up into groups by position, and we work on specific drills to help them perform at their position," noted Elliott. "We have an average of 12 different drills for each position. Some have more, and some have less. For instance, a linebacker has to do so many different things backpedal and open his hips to run like a defensive back, shuffle his feet and move forward like a defensive lineman — that he has a wider variety of drills than other positions. Defensive linemen have a lot of things to do because of the nature of the position. Receivers have a lot of things to do. They work on everything as basic as stance-and-start to changing direction. How many directions does a receiver go? A lot, and they need to make each change of direction as quick and as efficient as possible. We have a drill set for each direction he goes into. We watch his feet and watch his hips. We try to get them to do each step the proper way and then get them to repeat that over and over so it's habit."

There is no word yet on a possible successor for Elliott.

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