Bowl Benefits

Conventional wisdom holds that the recruiting benefits of a big season or impressive bowl win don't start to kick in until the following recruiting season. While West Virginia did get some late commitments in the Class of 2006 that were partly influenced by the Mountaineers' 38-35 Sugar Bowl win over Georgia, there's not much doubt that the BCS bowl win has helped snare some impressive early commitments in the Class of 2007.

One of those players is running back Terence Kerns, who noticed West Virginia during last year's 11-1 season, although he admits he almost missed WVU's outstanding performance.

"I had had a hard day, and when I got home I just wanted to go to sleep," Kerns said as he detailed his activities of Jan. 2. "My mom told me to turn on the game, though, and she ended up turning it on for me. I started watching Steve Slaton, and I was thinking the QB is nice, and the defense was doing real, real well. And I just got into the game. Georgia was a good team, and West Virginia was playing them like they were nothing.

"So, I got very interested in watching them, and that's when I really started looking at WVU. They were good on both sides of the ball, and I thought they had it going on."

Kerns' interest in West Virginia blossomed from that point, but it wasn't WVU's on-field performance that ended up sealing the deal for him. He, like many players who make a visit and get the chance to see the inner workings of the Mountaineer program, was more impressed with the family atmosphere that is stressed by the WVU coaching staff.

"The family that I'm going to be a part of is the biggest reason I committed to West Virginia," Kerns said. "They are dedicated to what they are doing. They care about football, but they care about the players too. That family goes both directions, too. The players seem really tight."

Kerns, who said he had offers from Maryland, Syracuse, Temple and Northwestern, likely would have garnered many more scholarship tenders had he dragged the recruiting process out. However, after considering the offers he had to date (Maryland, in particular, was a tempting candidate), Kerns decided to end the process and make WVU his choice. He plans to attend West Virginia's rising senior camp in June, and will also likely go to one or two Nike camps, but does not plan to camp at any other university's summer camp.

"I'm solid with West Virginia," Kerns said of his early commitment. "I've been to the football facilities, but I haven't seen the rest of the campus. I'm looking forward to doing that."

Although he's obviously excited about his college future, Kerns still has a busy 13 months left in his high school athletic career. First up on the schedule are county and state track meets, in which he has medal opportunities in several events.

"We have our county meet on May 11th and then states on May 22nd," said Kerns. "So far this year, I haven't lost a 100-meter dash yet. I'm also running the 200 and the relays. I think I have a good chance to win some of those races and a state championship."

After his track season ends, Kerns will make his summer camp visits and being preparing for his senior football season, but could also add another sport to his impressive resume.

"I also play basketball, although I didn't play this past year, because I ran indoor track," he explained. "I'm not sure which one I will do this year, but I will definitely run outdoor track again as a senior."

While Kerns excels at many sports, there's no doubt he was made for the football field. At six-one and 215 pounds, Kerns has the power to explode through tacklers, but his 4.38 speed in the 40-yard dash allows him to run around them as well. That combination helped him pile up 3,000 all-purpose yards as a junior, which is the basis for some lofty goals as he heads into his senior season.

"I want to rush for 2000 yards and get three touchdowns per game, and have at least one of those on kickoff or punt returns," Kerns said matter-of-factly. "We run the ball a lot, so I think I can reach those goals."

It's a tribute to Kerns talent that he doesn't appear to be setting the bar too high for himself. While those numbers might seem a bit optimistic, the rising senior views them as just another barrier to be hurdled. He is expected to be the feature back in Thomas Johnson's offense this year, and will likely get many more carries than he did a year ago, when he split touches with two seniors in the backfield.

A player of Kerns' ability typically plays both ways in high school, as coaches want to get as much out of their stars as possible. The WVU recruit is no different, as he mans the safety position for his school team. But while he certainly doesn't shy away from contact, he does admit that he likes playing on the offensive side of the ball better.

"I can hit on defense, but if you put me against a real big guy who is on defense, I have a better chance of running him over. I just love it on that side of the ball. If I'm on defense, I can hit that big guy, but I might not be able to overpower him. I am good at finding and getting through the hole with the ball," he continued. "I think I am smart. I need to work on my footwork, too. I can juke, but I want to do better than that."

While he is an excellent prospect on either side of the ball, Kerns will get a chance on offense first in college.


Despite living in ACC country, Kerns hasn't gotten much static for his commitment to a Big East school. In fact, he's actually received a good bit of support from his friends and classmates.

"They have told me they support my decision and that I made a good choice," Kerns said. "They are also telling me to keep my head on straight."

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Mountaineer assistant coach Bill Stewart was Kerns' recruiting coach, and his open, honest approach impressed the Maryland native.

"Coach Stew is a really good guy. I can talk to him about anything. We talk about football, but he talks to me about taking care of my mom, school, everything. He's very easy to talk with."

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Kerns isn't resting on his laurels now that he has chosen a school. When asked about things he needs to work on, he produces a list of items both on and off the field.

"I want to work on my study habits, so I can be on top of my academics," said Kerns, who should qualify with a solid final year of work in the classroom. "On the field, there are a lot of things I need to work on. I'll find out more about those at West Virginia's camp."

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