Man In The Middle

West Virginia already has one Virginia linebacker on its list of verbal commitments, and the Mountaineers would love nothing better than to add another to the Class of 2008.

That wish could become a reality, as Halifax County's Allen Stephens has West Virginia at the top of his list along with Virginia Tech. The big middle linebacker camped at WVU over the weekend, getting his first look at the Mountaineer program, and a lot to like about the school and the city.

"It was very nice," said the soft-spoken Stephens. "The med center was right there by the stadium, and it was nice. I liked the town too – overall, it was very good."

The WVU Hospital, which sits adjacent to the West Virginia football complex, grabbed Stephens eye isn't a surprise. The aggressive, yet agile backer is looking for a career in sports medicine, so he was on the lookout for those facilities. The level of WVU's hospital, and the prestige of its medical program, certainly won't hurt when it comes time for Stephens to make his final decision. He is looking at all facets of the schools he is considering, and excellence in his intended field of study would certainly be a big factor in his decision.

As of now, West Virginia and Virginia Tech head his schools of interest. Maryland and Marshall have also offered, and he has another camp session set up with the Hokies later this summer.

Stephens, who checks in at 240 pounds, certainly has the size and strength to play in the middle in college, but what surprises about the South Boston, Va. native is his agility. Although he was the biggest linebacker at camp, he also may have had the best feet. Stephens ran through several bag drills, which emphasize foot placement and dexterity, with ease, and displayed good balance to boot.

"I think I did well in the drills," he said. "I am familiar with all of them, and have run them before."

Stephens has been a linebacker throughout his career, and notes that his fondness for hitting has kept him on the defensive side of the ball. Although he couldn't display that ability at camp ("That's one of the tough things about it," he noted), his film from his junior season has already resulted in several offers to date, so there's no question about his fondness for contact.

Stephens has not set a timetable on making a decision, so for now it looks as if the Mountaineers and Holies will be waging a protracted battle for his services.

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