Side Benefit

It was actually West Virginia's basketball offerings that originated Kyrus Lanxster's interest in the Mountaineers. But the roundball intrigue had little to do with WVU itself.

The senior played AAU basketball for the Tennessee Breakers, which came to Morgantown each summer for the Harley Davison Jam Fest. It was then that Lanxster toured the city and Evansdale's campus, while also getting an intimate look at the student recreation center and the WVU Coliseum, where the games are held.

"I've been up there three times each in two summers for basketball tournaments and on my own," Lanxster said. "I really liked the team and the city and the facilities were awesome. Everything is really nice, and they have a great program. It felt like a great fit for me, and the coaching staff is amazing."

The 6-2, 185-pound receiver raved about West Virginia's weight room, which is the third-largest in the nation, and its budding status as a regional power, with a flirtation in consistently breaking onto the national scene. Lanxster also had offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota, Mississippi and Vanderbilt, and might have gotten a scholarship from home-state school Tennessee in the coming months. He is currently playing receiver – the position to which he projects in college – free safety and some cornerback on certain coverages for Aloca High. He will also man-up on an opposing team's best wideout.

"I have some speed, but because I am taller, people don't think I can run," Lanxster said. "I am deceptive. I can get past you and defenders don't think I am running as fast as I am. I think I am pretty quick, too."

The long-strider is actually closer to 6-3, and his hand-size will be an asset. Lanxster caught 18 passes for 513 yards and six touchdowns as a junior. He had 17 tackles as a defensive back. His sophomore season, he had 25 catches for 312 yards and 18 scores for the Class 2A state champions.

"We have a new coach now, and he likes to run the ball a lot more," Lanxster said. "So I am doing a lot more downfield blocking. I only have five catches this year, which is fine if we are winning, but we're not of yet. Our goal is to get the running back released for at least four of rive big runs per game, and we are getting there. The last two years we have only lost two games. We have been 14-1 last two years, and we have already lost two games this year."

One thing that is hurting both Alcoa's win total and Lanxster's catches is the loss of Dustin Lindsey, a three-star tailback who originally inked with the Volunteers last year but failed to academically qualify. The sturdy back, who is now in Kansas taking classes and is expected to return to UT next season, took heat off the quarterback and forced linebackers to respect the play action, which freed the receivers.

Lanxster, who will again play basketball while also running the 60-meters in indoor track, said he would like to better his strength before coming to West Virginia. He has a weight-lifting class among the seven courses he takes per day, and he also works out on his own in additional to the conditioning and sprinting work needed for basketball and track, respectively. Lanxster will also run outdoor track in the spring.

He has been named the No. 1 receiver in his region, a first-team all-state wideout in his class and an all-state receiver in the all-class team. He was also a preseason U.S. Army All-American. Lanxster, who is already academically qualified, plans to major in pre-medicine at West Virginia and become a pediatrician.

Lanster is West Virginia's 15th verbal overall and its second wideout in the 2007 class.

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