Little Brother Versus...Little Brother?

West Virginia fans are fond of referring to Marshall's Thundering Herd as "the little brother". For sophomore Mountaineer receiver Nate Sowers, that perception has an ironic twist.

Nate, a native of Martinsburg, is the youngest of four boys born to Tommy and Becky Sowers. While all brothers share unique bonds, one thing that Nate does not share in common with his older brothers is the fact that he attends WVU. The other three? All Marshall grads.

"I pretty much know the campus anyways from staying with them down there," said Sowers, who was offered by Marshall out of high school before ultimately deciding to play his college ball in Morgantown.

"They're Mountaineer fans now, because they have graduated," he said without a hint of doubt. "They cheer for their little brother, like they're supposed to. They will be there, though. They're taking my tickets. They're excited about going down to Huntington again to watch their little brother play."

Chances are the older brothers will have plenty of opportunities to watch Sowers in action when the Mountaineers take to the turf at Joan C. Edwards Stadium Saturday morning. In his second season of varsity action, Nate finds himself starting on several special teams in addition to his offensive assignments as the starter at the "Y" slot receiver position.

Originally a quarterback recruit when he signed with the Mountaineers in February of 2005, Sowers was switched to receiver full-time this summer after seeing limited action at both receiver and quarterback last season. Mountaineer coaches feel that his athletic ability and knowledge of the system -- similar to the spread offense employed at Martinsburg High by head coach Dave Walker -- are simply too valuable to be spent on the sidelines carrying a clipboard as the third-string quarterback behind starter Pat White and backup Jarrett Brown.

This past Saturday against Western Michigan, Sowers saw plenty of snaps in West Virginia's 62-24 victory.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "Being out there is fun, and being around the Mountaineer crowd was great."

This coming Saturday against the Herd, Sowers will take the field as one of 18 West Virginia natives on the Mountaineer roster. While the game will undoubtedly hold special meaning to Sowers and the other state natives, he doesn't feel that the out-of-state players will need any added motivation.

"I think it means a lot to everybody on this team," said the exercise physiology major. "I think everyone understands the hype and all of that with the game. I think (the hype) is more for the fans, though. We're just trying to focus on the game and take it one day at a time."

For you trivia buffs out there, Sowers may be the answer to an obscure question down the road. Unofficially, Nate Sowers is the only athlete to compete in the Class AAA state championship game in basketball (2003 loss to Parkersburg South), the Class AAA state championship game in football (2003 loss to Parkersburg South and 2004 loss to Morgantown), and a Friends of Coal Bowl.

"I think college football is a lot bigger," he said when asked to compare playing in the Coal Bowl to his aforementioned state championship game appearances. "There's no comparison to any high school game. It's definitely exciting for me. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun in high school. Those games were huge. Hopefully that experienced has helped me out for college."

Likely so. After all, he was good enough to garner a scholarship offer from head coach Rich Rodriguez, and in the grand scheme of things he's made an early impact as a Mountaineer.

After straying a bit from the beaten path of his older brothers, the little brother is doing just fine in Morgantown.

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