Experienced Help

Chad Snodgrass had a plethora of advice and a myriad of opinions regarding his college recruiting. But the most experienced and level headed likely came from Scott Tinsley, his head coach at Nitro High.

Tinsley has helped players like former West Virginia quarterback J.R. House and University of Charleston recruit Josh Culbertson – both Kennedy Award winners – sift through hundreds of letters and several college visits. So when his best offensive lineman was getting offers from both in-state Division I schools and looks from some of the major college powers, it was nothing new for the 11-year head coach.

"The biggest thing I told him was to go somewhere where he was comfortable with the coaching staff," Tinsley said. "They will be the moms and dads, so to speak, for the next four years."

Snodgrass heeded the advice, noting that WVU's coaching staff was "like family." That's a sentiment echoed by many a current Mountaineer player or commit, and it's one that seems to be among the best assets of a staff that has largely held together since the hiring of head coach Rich Rodriguez in 2000.

"I also told him to get around as many players as you can," Tinsley said, "because as far as Xs and Os go, everybody is a good coach at the Division I level. We don't really get into that. It's the players and coaches. But we're thrilled that Chad committed to West Virginia. It's a good fit for Chad in that there are a lot of similarities in coach Rod's offense and what Chad has run here for three years."

Those similarities, however, also hurt Snodgrass in recruiting. Nitro's perceived air-it-out style belies a belief that players aren't good run blockers, or that they can only pass protect and not move and slide defensive linemen and linebackers where they want them to punch holes for backs. Unlike most "conventional" prep offenses, Nitro's linemen are never in a three-point stance. They instead remain standing, which often leads to complaints from college coaches.

"They always say ‘We never get to see them in a three-point stance,'" Tinsley said. "They don't know if a kid can come out of that. There is a little misconception with us. We have had a 1,000-yard rusher every year since we have been here, in 1995. We are not known for that, though, and that's why these two- and three-day camps are so good. Kids can show that they can do that. "

Snodgrass did. West Virginia's staff gave him a chance in camp on June 11 against Scout.com four-star defensive tackle Junius Lewis, a fellow in-state recruit from Morgantown. When Snodgrass, at 6-5, 305 pounds, was the lone lineman quick and skilled enough to slow the 6-3, 265-pounder, offensive line coach Rick Trickett took notice. So did recruiting coordinator Herb Hand, and WVU extended an offer, its third to an in-state player in this class. Snodgrass' commit is the second from an offensive lineman (Donny Barclay) and sixth from a player on that side of the ball.

"I have said many times he is the best pass blocker I have ever coached," Tinsley said. "He has not given up a sack in two years. Once he gets his hands on you, you are locked out. He has also gotten much better in run blocking. But his strength going in will be pass blocking. And, you know, with Trickett, when you are finished there, you will know if you were good enough to be a Division I-A player. Chad will know if he had it, or if he wasn't good enough, because Trickett will get absolutely everything out of him."

Tinsley, who attended games last year to watch House, said he would come to Morgantown for a few contests when Snodgrass plays. It's one of the coaching perks to watch former players further develop at the collegiate level, especially after shepherding them through the recruiting process.

"It's a big relief anytime you can commit early," Tinsley said. "You don't have to look over your shoulder wondering who is in the stands watching you or wondering if this is a good game film to send out of any of that. You can just concentrate on what you have to do for the season."

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