"I Just Wanted To Feel Comfortable"

Mountaineer football verbal Eric Wicks placed a high priority on a family atmosphere in making his college choice.

"I felt like I was at home," Wicks said of last Saturday's visit to West Virginia. "I really wanted to go to a place where I felt comfortable, and the coaches at WVU made me feel that way.

"I didn't want to go to a college where I felt left out. I wanted it to be like a family, and that's what it's like there."

Wicks didn't commit to WVU during his visit, but the ties that he had been forging became that much stronger during his visit. After thinking it over a couple of days, Wicks committed to West Virginia on Wednesday.

Wicks will likely start out on the defensive side of the ball for WVU, and envisions himself as a free safety. With his size and height, however (6-1, 205 lbs.), he could end up at any of the safety positions.

A soft spoken player, Wicks is a tough evaluator of his play. He says he needs to work on "technique, speed and tackling" in order to be successful in college.

OPne thing Wicks can't hide is his mental mastery of the game. From his safety spot, he's allowed to make some defensive calls for Perry, which is undefeated and unscored on this year.

"I work with our defensive coordinator. He'll show me something and ask what defense we should run against it," Wicks said of his duties. So far, he seems to be performing them well.

Wicks will be joined in the class of 2003 by teammate Vaughn Rivers, who is an outstanding return man. Wicks says Rivers, who is a close friend, "plays like he's six feet tall", even though he's actually closer to 5-9.

"He's a great leader. He just doesn't slack off at all. Some guys work hard one day in practice and not the next, but he always works hard.

"We've been friends for awhile, and us coming (to WVU) together makes me feel very comfortable.

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