Match of Skills

The morphing of running backs and slot receivers at West Virginia provides a perfect match for the skills of some high school standouts, and one of those is in West Virginia's back yard.

Gateway High School's Cameron Saddler, who has his team off to a 5-1 start, has lined up for the Gators at both running back and wideout this year, which has helped him become a playmaker of the first degree.

"I've been able to get the ball in my hands both in the rushing and passing game and on kick returns," Saddler said of his senior year. "That's what I want to do -- just get the ball and make a play. I've been lining up both at the "X" receiver and tailback this year, and I have two touchdowns running back kicks. Both of those came in the same game, and I had something like 320 all-purpose yards in that game."

West Virginia, which has used Steve Slaton, Noel Devine, Jock Sanders and Brandon Hogan in the combined running back/receiver role this year, still holds Saddler's attention.

"West Virginia is definitely in my top three. They have been keeping in touch with me regularly. Their offense is exciting. I'd love to get in that type of offense and see how I could do. It would be very exciting for me to have the same role [that I do in high school]".

In addition to starring on offense, Saddler has also played some cornerback before injuring a hamstring earlier this year. While recovering from that problem, he played offense only, but now is feeling good enough to return to his two-way duties. That will certainly help Gateway, which, despite its impressive mark, hasn't played its best football yet, according to Saddler.

"We are 5-1 right now, and ranked third in the state. We're on a five game winning streak. We lost to Cardinal Mooney, which is a top ten team in the country, but I don't think we have jelled yet. We are very talented, and we have a lot of Division I-type players, but I think we are still working toward peaking."

Saddler's play has made him a target of a number of schools despite his short stature (5-7). He has battled the perceptions that attach to smaller players throughout his career, but has been doing it for so long that it's become almost second nature to him.

"I think coaches like a guy who is 5-7 who can make plays rather than a six-foot guy that doesn't," he said matter-of-factly. "I know I have to pick the right situation. I have had to fight the ‘not sure he can play at that level' thing for a long time, so it's not a big issue for me. I'm no worried about that at all."

Although some other schools are trying to get into the mix, it still looks as if Virginia (11/3 visit), Michigan (11/17) and West Virginia (12/1) are Saddler's top three. He said he will take all of his visits before making his decision.

Saddler also noted that his relationship with teammate Shayne Hale, and their desire to attend the same school, is just one factor among many in the equation of picking a college.

"We have talked about playing together and being a pipeline and being able to build a tradition, but have to make the best decision for ourselves," Saddler noted. "We would like to play together, but it is just one thing, and not the biggest one, in making our choices."

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