Expanding Reach

West Virginia's recruiting areas have morphed somewhat with the coaching changes since the end of the 2007 season, and one of those is home to a standout defender that has the Mountaineers on his list of interest.

While West Virginia has recruited areas of Georgia in the past, the home of one of its 2008 targets hasn't been in its primary regions of interest in past years. That's changed however, with the emergence of Chaz Sutton of Jenkins High School in Savannah, Ga.

Although he hasn't yet visited WVU's campus, Sutton is very interested in the school.

"I haven't gotten up there yet because of the distance, but I am still very interested in West Virginia," said Sutton, who has his sights set on playing for a Top 25 school. "If I do take a visit, it will be an official one."

Official visits, which are paid for by the school, are most often utilized by players coming from further distances, which means that many Mountaineer recruiting targets from the south often don't see the campus until after their senior seasons. That isn't a problem for Sutton, however, who has built a rapport with his recruiting coach.

"I have talked with Coach Greg Frey a lot, and he seems like a great guy. One of the things I am looking for in a school is having a great relationship with the coaches. I think that's important, because you might not get the chance to develop as much if you don't have that relationship with them. That's one of the things that college is all about."

Sutton has also had the chance to talk with head coach Rich Rodriguez, and sees him in the same light as Frey. A visit to West Virginia's campus later this year could go a long way toward keeping WVU at the top of Sutton's list.

In order to get a commitment, however, West Virginia will have to fend off Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Rutgers and Florida, who, along with WVU, make up Sutton's top five at this point. He has been to Florida twice, and it would be no surprise if the other quartet of schools makes up the majority of his official visits later this year.

Sutton, like a number of players targeted by West Virginia, is a multi-skilled athlete who has played numerous positions throughout his career. He is being recruited as a defensive end by the schools on his list, but that doesn't make his versatility any less impressive.

"The past few years I have been playing linebacker and safety on defense and running back on offense," he said. "I played some defensive end in junior high, but in high school they moved me around. I really like playing defensive end, though. Rushing the passer and getting the hit – I really enjoy that. I'll play some tight end this year, but all of the schools are recruiting me as a defensive end."

Couple Sutton's size (6-4, 240 lbs.) speed (a best of 4.53 in the 40-yard dash) and his overall ability ("My biggest assets are my speed and athleticism"), and the potential for an intimidating force off the edge of the defense emerges. The speed and quickness he displays as a running back could be lethal in turning the corner and getting into the backfield.

"I am able to use those things to my advantage," Sutton said. "The versatility I have shown has helped me a lot too. Coaches see me playing running back and breaking tackles and they say, ‘Wow, look at that big guy run.'"

Having narrowed his choices down to five, Sutton has some definite criteria in place that he will measure each school against. In addition to his relationship with the coaches, he has several other factors on his list.

"I am really looking for a place I can call home. I want to be confident in my decision, and have a chance to play early and to contribute to a winning team."

NOTE

Sutton didn't have any ties to West Virginia, but began hearing from the Mountaineers after he took the recruiting bull by the horns following his junior season.

"Last year in wintertime, we put my highlight tape together and sent it out to the Top 25 schools in the country along with some other schools I wanted to be recruited by. West Virginia was one of those schools, and Coach Frey called my coach and told him how interested West Virginia was. They offered a scholarship, and so they are on my list."


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