Richardson File

Remember the guy in all of your classes who always, no matter what, seemed to end up with an A at the end of the semester? Jay Henry is that guy. It's been widely published that Henry was honored last week as a member of the District II all-academic team by CoSIDA and ESPN the Magazine.

"It's something I've always taken pride in since middle school. It means a lot because it shows I've been working hard, and it makes me eligible to be an academic all-American. That's been a goal of mine since I've been here," said the junior finance major, who also starts at middle linebacker for the Mountaineers.

This is nothing new for Henry. In fact, he's been an exemplary student for as far back as he can remember.

"I can't remember ever making a B," he said. "It's just something that I've always worked hard at, but at the same time school's always been something that's come a little bit easier to me than to most people."

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It's an understatement to say that the performance of Steve Slaton this year has been a pleasant surprise. Without the emergence of the true freshman running back, who knows what West Virginia's record would be right now?

"I just wanted to learn and grow, and get used to the program," said the Levittown, Pa. native. "I thought I'd bide my time and probably redshirt this year, and that later on I'd have an impact."

Although he makes running the football look easy when he's on the field, Slaton admits that there have been some adjustments to make throughout the season.

"College is a lot faster, and there's a lot more talent. I think that's been the biggest difference so far," he remarked.

Slaton's running style, which combines blazing speed with more power than you'd expect from a 185 pound running, has taken the Big East by storm. One writer pointed out that Slaton's running style reminds him a lot of former Pitt Panther Tony Dorsett.

"I never got a chance to see any film on him, but I know who he is," said Slaton of the former Dallas Cowboy.

That comparison prompted veteran state journalist Mickey Furfari to point out that Slaton has a lot more class that Dorsett, citing the Heisman winner's ejection from a Backyard Brawl in the 1970s.

"Oh I don't plan on doing that," said Slaton with a chuckle.

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Another true freshman who has made an impact this season is linebacker Johnny Holmes. The Rockledge, Fla. product hasn't seen a lot of action on defense, but has played a big role on special teams in recent weeks. Holmes credits his time in Morgantown over the summer as contributing factor to his early success.

"I came here expecting to get bigger, stronger, faster, and to get ahead of the competition," he said.

Holmes did get a chance to play a lot of defense in the junior varsity's 14-8 win over Hargrave Military Academy a couple of weeks ago. The speedy linebacker was all over the field, and got in the face of the Hargrave quarterback several times throughout the game.

"It felt like I was back in high school again, like I was the man," he said.

With his freshman season drawing to a close, the quiet Holmes is looking forward to the spring.

"I just want to learn more, and understand more for next season so I'll be ready."

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Several times this season, head coach Rich Rodriguez has offered glowing compliments about the three true freshmen quarterbacks who are currently redshirting and running the scout team. The trio of Jarrett Brown, T. J. Mitchell, and Nate Sowers have picked up another endorsement, this time from one of their peers.

"There's a lot of talent. They're not down there working with us right now, but they're good. If they weren't good, they wouldn't be here," said starting quarterback Pat White of the three freshmen.

With White, Bednarik, the three freshman, and J.R. House, the Mountaineers have a stable of young talent behind center.

"They showed a lot of good things in training camp. I think we're going to keep getting good recruits at the quarterback position," said White. "As of right now we have five or six good ones in the program. We're set for now."

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