Strong Ties

Building a good relationship with the coaching staff was the main factor in Chris Palmer's recent verbal commitment to West Virginia.

Palmer, who had the Mountaineers atop his list of schools since early in the recruiting process, believes that the value of solid relationships with the coaches he will be working with during his college career was of utmost importance. Thus, the strong ties he built with defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich (who was also his primary recruiter) and head coach Rich Rodriguez sealed the deal.

"We can pretty much talk about anything," said Palmer, who looked at other schools but ultimately went with his top choice. "I can call them if I have a question or anything, or just want to talk. It's just a good relationship, and I've felt good about it for a long time. I was just ready to go ahead and make the decision."

Palmer, who will be counted on to boost West Virginia's pass rush in a place where it has been a bit lacking, relies on a variety of techniques to get to the quarterback.

"People don't know that I'm quick and strong," he said when asked to survey his game. "It's tough to stop me, because I can bull rush or put a move on someone. Some people just have one move, but I have several, and I think that makes me tough to contain."

Palmer is also very quick off the ball, which he demonstrated at West Virginia's rising senior camp in June. Palmer was often able to defeat foes in one-on-one drills with a single move or a quick burst, and was clearly the most dominant lineman at the event.

There were other reasons that went into Palmer's decision, of course. One of those was West Virginia's recent success, both on the field and in recruiting the Philadelphia area. The latter effort yielded gems such as Steve Slaton and incoming standout P.J. Shirdan.

"I watched West Virginia on television some, and I really liked how they run the program," said Palmer. "And West Virginia has recruited players from this area. I talked to Steve Slaton, and he said he had no regrets about coming to West Virginia at all. He really likes it there, and said there weren't any negatives. I've watched him on TV, of course. And when I talked to P.J. Shirdan, he was just so excited that he committed there. Having those players there from Philadelphia was a good connection."

Palmer isn't resting on his laurels or strengths, now that he has his college choice out of the way.

"I'll be working on everything, and getting into better shape so I can go as hard as I can all the time. I need to work on staying low and working with my hands more, and I want to improve my all-around athleticism."

NOTES

Palmer is looking to lead his St. John's Neumann team to the top of the Philadelphia Catholic League.

"We are looking really good, and our lines look good on both sides," said Palmer, who plays guard on offense as well as tackle on defense. "I think we can win the league, and we can win games with our line play. We have lines on both sides that can dominate."

* * *

Although Palmer is undecided on a major, he has no plans to revisit his college choice.

"I am still looking at some different majors, but I am not going to any other schools or taking any other visits," Palmer said. "I'm working on my GPA and taking some summer school classes to help raise it, and I'll take tests beginning in the fall."


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