Winding Path

Mike Marvis travelled a lengthy and twisting road to arrive at his current college destination.

Marvis, a 6-2, 240-pound linebacker from Hempfield Area (Pa.) High School, was one of the top players in the Keystone State as a junior in 2002. After listening to a number of recruiting pitches, the rugged defender committed to Maryland in the summer before his senior season. While that early decision seemed to set his course with the Terps for the next four or five years, it was actually just the first step in what became a three college tour over the next two years. "When I committed to Maryland, I was also interested in West Virginia, Boston College and Indiana," Marvis told BlueGoldNews.com. "But my brother Sam had gone to Maryland, and I was familiar with the school. Sam liked it there, and I liked Coach Friedgen. Later that year, I took some visits to places like Clemson and South Carolina to make sure I made the right decision, but I stuck with Maryland.

"Late in January (shortly before signing day) Maryland began talking about grayshirting me. I wasn't a big fan of that, especially since they waited so long to to it. At that point, it was very late, and most of the other schools that had offered me before were out of scholarships. It came down to Michigan State and Indiana, and I liked the coaching staff at IU, so I decided to commit there."

That might be enough upheaval for most people, but it was just the beginning for Marvis, who picks up the story.

"My first year (2004) went well. I was redshirted, but I was doing o.k. Then Coach DiNardo got fired, and that changed everything. The coaching staff was the biggest reason I was there in the first place, so the change wasn't a good one for me. I wasn't happy there and I decided I wasn't going to be miserable. So, I looked around again and ended up with contacting WVU. They were in the mix in the beginning (Marvis visited WVU during his senior season), but things got a little screwed up between us during that first recruiting process. There was some miscommunication on both sides, but nothing bad or intentional on either side."

After Marvis made his availability known, West Virginia offered a walkon spot, which he quickly accepted.

"They said they would be happy to have me," Marvis said. "They have been very helpful throughout the whole process. I'm looking forward to getting there and getting started."

As a transfer, Marvis will sit out this year while practicing with the team, and be eligible to play in 2006. He plans to be in Morgantown for orientation on the 16th, then join the team for practice when the roster expands the following Monday.

"I am ready to go," Marvis said, even though he won't be eligible to play for another year. "I've met (strength and conditioning coach) Mike Barwis, and he's a unique individual. "He already has a plan for me to take off about 20 pounds, then put it back on the right way. I think I could play around 235, but he said he would take me down to 220, then get me back up to about 250."

As Marvis prepares for his career as a Mountaineer, it's ironic to note that by the time he has the chance to get on the field, two years will have elapsed – a far longer period than the five months he would have sat had he accepted the decision to grayshirt at Maryland. However, the straightforward defender doesn't look at it that way.

"Sitting out one more year is better than being unhappy for the next four years at a place you don't like," said Marvis, who plans to major in criminal justice with an eye toward attending law school. "I did end up sitting out longer, but it's important for me to be happy."

NOTES

  • Marvis counts his "sideline-to-sideline play" as his best attribute.

    "I like to hit, and I'm not afraid of contact," he expanded. "I'm not sure what my 40 time is, but I can cover the field.

  • In the small-world category, Marvis' brother Sam is best friends with former WVU tight end Sean Berton. Mike spoke with both Berton and his roomate in Minnesota, Grant Wiley, about WVU when he was looking to transfer from IU.

  • Unlike some schools, Indiana did not balk at releasing Marvis from his scholarship.

  • Sam Marvis is now teaching in Maryland but younger brother Mike doesn't expect too much fraternal conflict when the Mountaineers and Terps meet.

    "We have fun talking about WVU vs. Maryland, and we kid each other a little bit, but I think Sam is my biggest fan, and I was the same for him when he was in school. I know he'll be rooting for me."

  • Marvis totalled 230 tackls in his last two seasons at Hempfield, and earned Class AAAA Quad East all-conference honors as a senior. He was also named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22" as one of the best players in the WPIAL.

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