Snead Says McKinley A Natural Fit

Tarus McKinley's experience within the spread and explosiveness in the open field makes him a perfect fit for West Virginia.

So says Glades Central head coach Willie Snead. McKinley, a 5-9, 165 pound wideout, committed to West Virginia on national signing day. But the three-star receiver chose to attend Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia for one season to ensure full academic qualification.

"He was close," Snead said. "He probably could have gone that (college) route. But it's a good decision for him. The coach there (Robert Prunty) is a good friend of mine. He did not want to make a hasty decision, and I think the fact that West Virginia runs a similar system to ours helped him."

McKinley led Glades Central in receiving last season with 17 receptions for 472 yards (27.7 per catch) and six scores. He also played basketball and will run track this spring. At a 4.6 40-yard dash, McKinley isn't a burner, and with his height he projects as a slot receiver in the Mountaineers' spread scheme. Snead said the year at Hargrave, with its discipline, regiment and focus on academics and athletics would aid McKinley in improving his game. He should have no problems gaining admission to WVU in the fall of 2008.

"He's tough," Snead said. "He is a great route runner, and he's great in the open field. He has all the skills to play on the Division I level, and he has no weaknesses. He'll be getting better, perfecting what he does. He has been in the system a long time, and, like with a lot of kids, I think they like staying in a similar system. They feel like they can step in and play sooner."

Snead's setup demands the same downfield blocking ability, though it's likely not harped upon as much as it will be by the new West Virginia wideout coach. McKinley was not bothered by not knowing who his position coach would be, and although he is able to reopen his recruiting should he desire to do so, Snead believes he will stay committed. Hargrave, however, does not run a spread attack, and thus McKinley will be out of his familiar settings for one year. That might play to his other abilities, because he will learn aspects of other systems and can develop skills that match that set, then refine what he has learned while adding to it, both at Hargrave and upon his enrollment at WVU. McKinley will also be able to add weight to his frame.

The Tigers threw four touchdown passes against West Virginia last year in a 31-21 win – its first ever over WVU or a team whose varsity was then ranked in the NCAA Division I-A top five – at Milan Puskar Stadium at Mountaineer Field. The game, held the day after WVU beat Maryland, showcased Hargrave's passing. The Tigers threw for first-half scores of 20 and 50 yards, and on another drive they completed six passes, including one for a nine-yard touchdown on third down. The final score came on a bomb from midfield. So it's not as though McKinley won't be getting used in his one year there.

"He is great for what they do, and he will be more knowledgeable having been around here," Snead said.

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