"I was seeking more playing time, and that's the main reason I decided to transfer," Hafferty told BlueGoldNews.com. "There was really nothing bad against K-State. I visited Michigan State, Central Florida, South Florida and West Virginia, but by the time I finally got my release I didn't have a great deal of time [to make a decision]. My family and I had some contacts at some other schools, and we contacted [WVU offensive line coach] Greg Frey to set up a visit. I sent in my tape, and they wanted to see me on campus.
"When I went to West Virginia, I felt like it was a great atmosphere for football. I just got a great feeling that it is a football town. I just thought the program was fantastic. "
That feeling overrode any concerns Hafferty may have had about being a "one-and-done" transfer.
"I had a lot of people tell me, ‘Man, you are sacrificing a year. That is going to be tough.' And I told them that they were right, but that I have a great opportunity at West Virginia. [While I'm redshirting], I will have the chance to get acclimated to the system. I know I will be on the scout team this year, but I will have a chance to learn. I am just so happy I get the chance to play somewhere else."
Although Hafferty spent most of his childhood in Georgia, he isn't unfamiliar with eastern football. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and lived there for four years before moving to Georgia. His grandparents are also from there, and thus he still maintains ties in the area.
After moving south, Hafferty blossomed into an outstanding high school offensive lineman, and received interest and offers from several schools. West Virginia wasn't heavily involved ("I might have gotten some letters from them, but I never visited there," said Haggerty), and after weighing his offers he decided to attend Kansas State.
"My father played at Kansas State, so that was part of it," Hafferty explained. "He played there when they weren't that good. But around the time I was in the seventh grade, K-State started contending for national champ. I'd watch my dad watching the games, and he just had so much passion for them, I fell in love with them."
After an up-and-down career that saw a position change and moves in and out of the starting lineup, Hafferty decided to search out another option for his senior season. The choice came down to South Florida and West Virginia.
"I have family in both places, but West Virginia just seemed like the best opportunity for me," he said.
The link between those two schools is offensive coach Greg Frey, who left the Bulls earlier this year to join the West Virginia staff. Although Haggerty didn't talk with Frey about transferring until he had the move to WVU, he was at least noddingly familiar with the man who will now be his coach.
"I had a friend named Ryan Schmidt that left Kansas State and went to USF last year, and Coach Frey was there and coached him," Hafferty said. "He has two years left, so I could play against him next year. That would be really odd to play against him."
Hafferty and Schmidt wouldn't go head-to-head, as both are offensive linemen. However, the WVU transfer might pick the brain of his friend a bit, as Schimdt, a center, mans the position at which Hafferty will start out.
"I played guard and center at Kansas State, so I think I can come in and help at center. That's where Coach Frey thought I could help. I told him, and the coaches at Kansas State, that I would play anywhere.
"I have played most of my life at left guard," Hafferty continued, "but I played some center as a sophomore at Kansas State. I feel like I can be a good center. I enjoy that position. There's a lot of calls, a lot of leadership – I want to take on that challenge."
Another challenge that will face Hafferty is the shotgun snap – something that he did get some work on with the Wildcats. However, it will have been nearly three years since he has done it in game conditions when he will have the chance to do so again, so there is certainly some brushing up to do. And with West Virginia in the shotgun at least 95% of the time, that's something that has to be second nature to whoever keys the play.
"My dad was a center, and he had helped me some, and given me some tips," Hafferty said.
The oddity of Hafferty transferring to West Virginia so soon after Bob Huggins left the same school is not lost on the big lineman.
"All my friends are big K-State fans, so they are saying I should go hang out with Bob Huggins," he said with a laugh. "They have been giving me a lot of crap about it. But in reality, I am getting great responses. I have watched football for a long time and I have seen West Virginia, and what really hit me about them was the Georgia game in the Sugar Bowl. I thought, ‘Wow!' After that they really blossomed.
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Hafferty will initially be a walk-on, but will have the chance to earn a scholarship. That could come as early as the second semester of the upcoming school year.