Getting To Know You -- And Us

We know all about you. You 34 newcomers to West Virginia's fall camp. We've got measurements and 40 times. We know when you were born, where you are from, what your parents names are and if you have siblings. We might even know if you have a kid yourself, or if you are married or your religion, if only because you told us.

We know heights, weights, vertical jumps, and how many sports in which you played and lettered. We know how your academics are, and your entrance test scores. Bad in math? A great student, a la Jay Henry? We, the fourth element, know.

You come from Sweet Home Alabama and The Eyes of Texas and other places where we haven't gotten many players, but have pulled upsets, like Oklahoma. For others, like McKeesport, Pa.'s Adam Serena, your hometown is a pipeline, sending us players and talent. We thank you, and your former gridiron townsfolk. Keep it coming.

Some of you are from places called College Park or Gainesville, neither of which are in Maryland or Florida. Some of your claim to fame is an all-state selection or a major rushing record. For others, it's because you come from the place with the "Longest Steel Arch Span Bridge" in the world.

The majority of y'all are deep southerners, so this August heat shouldn't bother you, though the grits at Eat ‘N Park and Bob Evans will.

We know all this. But what do you know of us?

And still, we're the ones asking questions -- mainly because people, a majority of the 1.8 million in the state, care about Mountaineer football. They care if your ankle hurts or if you're homesick or struggling in class.

But it leaves you with a disadvantage. We sportswriters and fans aren't sure what the coaches told you, or anybody else, but we're pretty sure it's all positive.

Best Small City in the East, Best in the Country, etc. great facilities, safe campus, Big East exposure, etc.

You might be surprised to know this class, one of the largest in the history of WVU football, also has a surprisingly low amount of state natives. We do what's needed to win, and that means the coaches thought you were the best the nation offered and West Virginia could sign.

It also means most of you haven't a clue about a lot here, like the population makeup or the weather. Or the malls, all seemingly on a hill -- isn't everything? -- and all beginning with the letter "M" for three counties south.

That's another thing about the state. Many from here are from counties, not cities, because the "country roads taking us home, to the place we belong" lead more to small towns than urban centers.

We're proud of that, and that we work hard. We'll expect you too, as well, and we'll cheer and adore you for it, because you are the only game in the state.

You are the pro team, the players people watch. And we love a winner here more than anywhere else, so much so that on Saturdays, Mountaineer Field, capacity 63,500, is the largest city in the state.

As for the weather, California it ain't, Aaron Neal. The forecast for Oxnard, Calif., for the next three days? Highs of 71-72 each day with lows of 56-57. Sunny, bright, maybe some smog.

It's like that here, too, (minus the smog) for 20 minutes until it changes again. Sun, rain, fog, sleet, hail, snow. The four seasons. It all happens, and often within the same day.

Don't like it? It'll change.

The coaches have showed you the academic centers and classrooms and where and what you'll be sleeping and eating, respectively, besides WVU football.

You'll learn about the social scene soon enough, and that WVU was the No. 1 party school in the nation a few years back and that it has been an ongoing war between the administration, who hated it and all the press that followed, and the students, who want the title back.

Inadvertently, you'll contribute, because you are the main reason to party in town.

You'll learn that Italian food is what we do best, what a pepperoni roll is, the two locations of the Boston Beanery and that we like our steakhouses, though it's not like Texas.

You'll learn the windy, one-way streets and when not to drive, namely 3-6 p.m., and maybe where to park. Keep that one to yourself.

You've picked a college with a major sports and academic history, from Jerry West on the NBA logo and Sam Huff's Violent World to the 25 Rhodes Scholars, high for a land grant University. You'll soon know Major is not a military rank, that West's Bank is not a Middle Eastern term here, and that Pitt is a dirty word, though The Pit is revered.

In short, you'll learn where you fit in in this megacomplex of tight housing, students, citizens, the city, the country, and football mania that has a mix unlike many other places, yet a personality all its own.

You're part of a major change at WVU right now, and as you make it, from uniforms to playing styles to players and coaches, we are making it with you. And we just want to win and to do it fairly, so if we seem to want it as much as you, we do.

We're happy you inked with us, and if you all stay, we promise you won't regret it. Most likely, you'll love it.

The last time we had a class this size that stayed throughout -- some 29 seniors in 1993 -- we went 11-0.

You can make that happen again. Maybe you'll even be the first to win that elusive 12th or 13th game.

Then we can put away the one major stat the most bothers us: The winningest I-A program of all-time without a national title.

Good luck.

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