QB Target

West Virginia has gotten its football recruiting class of 2007 off to a bang with verbal commitments from three highly-regarded skill position players, and the Mountaineer coaching staff would love nothing better than to make that number a quartet by adding an outstanding double-threat quarterback to its list.

After getting a verbal commitment from outstanding dropback passer Charlie Russell, the West Virginia coaching staff is looking for one more QB to round out its class. Even though signing day is still more than nine months away, nothing would make the WVU brain trust more comfortable than having two quality signalcallers in the fold well in advance of the season. And although one of the Mountaineers' top targets recently claimed to not have identified any favorites as of yet, he also admits that his relationship with his recruiting coach at the state's flagship institution is an excellent one.

"Coach Bill Stewart and I have a great bond together," Orange County (Va.) High School's Bradley Starks said after two recent visits to the WVU campus. "We just get along together really well. He's cool, and we can talk to each other about everything."

Starks, who is built along the lines of current West Virginia helmsman Pat White, sees an extension of the comfort factor with many people around the Mountaineer program.

"The visits [to West Virginia] went great. I got to go around and see everything. One thing I noticed was that everyone seemed interested in me, but at the same time they were just normal people. They talk to you and make you feel comfortable. That helps a lot on visits -- getting to know someone is important."

Starks put up some outstanding numbers as a junior. He passed for more than 2300 yards and 31 touchdowns while suffering just three interceptions, and added 715 yards rushing and 11 more scores on the ground. However, it's not his outstanding athletic ability, but rather his mental strength, that he credits for much of his success.

"I'm a team leader, and I demand a lot out of the people around me on the field," he said with confidence. "I'm just a person that people love to be around. I have a positive attitude all the time."

With many players focusing on their statistics, or naming a physical trait as one of their strengths, it is somewhat different to hear a player speak about his outlook or attitude as his strongest point. Starks, however, doesn't hesitate to discuss that aspect of his game.

"I've learned to use that over time during my high school career," said Starks, who has offers from West Virginia, Iowa State and Temple. "It helps a lot, when things are going bad, to have that kind of leadership. You have to be that person that keeps your head level at all times. The quarterback is a leader, and he has to be positive no matter what happens."

Although Starks' excellent relationship with Stewart would seem to have him leaning toward, WVU, he said that he does not have a favorite at this time.

"I'm just concentrating on football and trying to work on my grades," said Starks, who still has some academic work to do in order to achieve a qualifying GPA and test score. "Right now, I just want to take my team to the playoffs, and do more when we get there. We were 8-2 last year and just missed the playoffs, an this year we want to win our district outright and get to the playoffs."

Before his senior season, however, Starks still has some summer camp stops to make. He will go to a couple of Nike events, and also participate in the Elite 11 quarterback camp this summer. He will then attend a handful of college camps, but has not yet made a decision on which ones those will be. And following that, he hopes to start the process of making a decision on his college.

"I haven't thought about a timetable, but I think it will be before football season," he said of his decision.


Starks attended West Virginia's spring game, and noticed the common traits that he and current Mountaineer quarterback Pat White share.

"I think we are both mobile quarterbacks that can get around and get things done," he said with a bit of understatement. "He's a leader, he's young, but he demands a lot of his team on the field."

The fact that Starks again comes back to leadership qualities isn't an accident. It's something he values highly, and believes is just as important as the physical qualities he brings to the field.

"My main goal for my senior season is to make myself better as a leader and a player," said Starks.

* * *

Although he says he's not ready to make his choice yet, Starks does know what he's looking for in a school.

"I want to be able to get along with everyone. I want them to have a good program, and honesty from the coaches. The style of offense has some input too. If I'm going to college as a quarterback, then it would help to be familiar with what they are doing. West Virginia runs the same offense we do, so that would help me starting out."

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