Future Glimpse

Two future West Virginia players stood just 45 feet from each other Friday, neither realizing that the other was also watching what could be their future as Mountaineers.

And as Morgantown quarterback Charlie Russell, the first commitment in the class of 2007, and Wes Lyons, a receiver out of Woodland Hills in the class of 2006, observed WVU's fade route/jump ball drill in the end zone, both seemingly liked what they saw and thought themselves a fit.

"That's right down my alley," said the 6-5 Lyons, who caught 21 passes for 446 yards as a senior. "I have to come here and learn and do everything like that first, so we will see. It looks fun out there. I can't wait to get here."

When Russell, not undersized at 6-3 and 215 pounds, was told who Lyons was, he looked over and grinned. Of the 16 touchdowns he threw as a junior in leading Morgantown to the West Virginia Class AAA state title, none might have been as easy as tossing one to Lyons appeared then.

"It would be pretty nice," he simply said, "to have a big receiver like that."

Indeed, the two could be a solid combination for WVU in the future. Lyons will likely get worked in immediately because he plays an easier position as far as acclamation to the collegiate level. Russell, with one year of prep ball left before he comes to West Virginia, probably won't play until Lyons is at least a junior. But, with height at both slots and still-underdeveloped skill, the potential for big plays is there.

"I am pretty excited about coming here," Russell said. "I hope a lot of receivers can come in, too, and help out the program at West Virginia."

Especially those in the mold of Lyons. The all-WPIAL pick runs a 4.65 40 and has the body size for which receivers coach Butch Jones is looking. Combine that with Lyons' downfield blocking – he played in a run-oriented scheme in high school and says that the WVU coaches like that his recruiting tapes showed so much blocking – and his high ceiling for future development, and Russell should have a very good college target.

And though Lyons says he has never measured his vertical, he does do 46-inch box jumps. If he can hit that, on top of his 6-5 frame and lanky arm length, he could be West Virginia's best jump ball threat outside Chris Henry since Shawn Foreman dominated defenders for scores from Marc Bulger.

For his part, Russell was trying to study the practice habits of Patrick White, Nate Sowers and Jarrett Brown, among others, and utilize some of their leadership strengths at the scholastic level, where he will try to win a third straight state title as a starter.

"These guys have been through it all and have worked real hard to be where they are at," Russell said. "They have to work hard. The way the quarterbacks, especially, take a leadership role and work hard and take charge, I can learn from them and really help out Morgantown, then use that when I come (to WVU)."

Russell is 28-0 at Morgantown and has the ability to make every throw on the field. Even at that, he notes that West Virginia's sessions, as expected, are several steps above what is done across the city at Morgantown High. The future signalcaller watched T. J. Mitchell, White, Brown and Sowers do everything from fade routes to faking a handoff and rolling out to looking off a defensive back and finding the receiver on the other side of the field – all in 10 minutes. He also watched a quick-snap drill where the quarterback gets the ball and releases it immediately to one of four receivers, then is hiked another ball and repeats the drill four times in less five seconds.

"The practices are crazy," Russell said. "I don't know how they go through that tempo. They'd have to be in pretty good shape. But I think I can handle it. It looks like a lot of fun."


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