Chip Off The Ol' Block?

Some players are just destined to play football at a particular school. With his father being one of the school's all-time greats at quarterback, and his grandfather being a legendary former head coach, it just wouldn't seem right for Justin Hostetler to continue his football career at someplace other than West Virginia University.

When the time came for Hostetler to make a decision on where he'd be playing his college ball, he had his choice. He could either play at one of a slew of smaller schools, or he could take the hard road and walk-on to the program where his father and grandfather are hailed as two of the all-time greats.

While the former may have been easier from a football standpoint, the latter was a tall order. In March, Hostetler decided he'd take the harder of the two roads and become a Mountaineer.

"Basically it came down to the fact that I wanted to play on the highest level, and WVU is one of the top five programs in the country right now," he said on Saturday night after his final high school football game, the annual North-South All Star Classic. "There's no way I can pass that up."

Hostetler played on both sides of the ball as a University Hawk. On offense, he was lined up behind center as the Hawks' quarterback. In three years as a starter, he became UHS's all-time leading passer. His senior season saw him garner first team all-conference honors, and special honorable mention all-state.

His future at the collegiate level was almost certainly on defense. As a free safety, he came up with several interceptions for the Hawks as a senior. After talking to West Virginia coaches, both sides agreed that he'd fit best in West Virginia's defensive backfield.

"I'm going to start out as a free safety, but they said I might be able to move up to bandit sometime in the future. For right now though, I'll play free," he said.

Saturday night marked the end of Hostetler's high school career.

"It was a lot of fun being out here with all of these guys and playing my last high school game with all of the best players in the state. We put forth a valiant effort, but they made a couple of big plays and we didn't have any of those big plays tonight," said Hostetler, referring to the 33-22 victory by the South.

Like many incoming freshmen, he'll take advantage of being able to take summer courses to get a head start on college both in the weight room, and in the classroom.

"I'm going to take some classes during the second summer session, and I'll be lifting at the Puskar Center with all of the players."

As for his father and grandfather, he says they've given him plenty of advice.

"They've told me to keep working hard. It's going to be a long road, but they've encouraged me to always keep pushing no matter how hard it gets."

Nothing will be given to Justin as he enters the program his family has helped shape. When football starts, he'll be just another freshman walk-on trying to prove to the coaching staff that he's good enough to play at this level.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a challenge but I'm definitely looking forward to being a Mountaineer," says Hostetler.

For a kid whose blood probably bleeds blue and gold, no other program would be right.

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