Firming It Up

Courtney Stuart finalized up his commitment to West Virginia with a weekend visit to the Mountaineer campus, but he really didn't need the trip to know that WVU was the place he wanted to spend his Division I eligibility.

"I didn't have any problem committing to West Virginia, even though I had never seen it before," said Stuart, who became the second Phoenix College player to pledge to the Mountaineer program in the class of 2008. "A few weeks ago, my coaches got WVU a copy of my tape, and I knew they were looking at it. Then, last week, I was in class when one of my coaches came to tell me that West Virginia was in and wanted to talk with me. After the class, I went out, and Coach Casteel and Coach Kirelawich were there. They gave it too me straight, and asked me some personal questions, and then they got into detail about what in meant to be a student athlete at West Virginia. They didn't have to pursuade me a whole lot. They told me pretty much everything I needed to know about West Virginia."

Once Stuart saw WVU, he knew that he had made the right decision.

"Now that I have made the trip, I know it was a blessing that I made the commitment," he said. The people were very friendly there, and I know that I made the right choice."

Stuart is something of a throwback as a safety. He doesn't specialize against the run or the pass, but sees himself as a football player that plays all aspects of the game well.

"I have a lot of range as a safety," said. "Being able to move, cover and be physical are some of my strengths. I really don't have a preference playing the run vs. the pass. I like to play the run because it gives me the chance to be physical, and I like playing against the pass because it gives me a chance to get in coverage on third and long. Or, if I play the bandit, I get the chance to rush and hit the quarterback . It's very exciting to be able to do that."

Stuart appears destined to begin his career at the bandit spot, where West Virginia was hit hard by graduation. While several young players are also poised to compete at the position, Stuart believes he can hit the ground running when he arrives at West Virginia this summer. He is on track to graduate during Phoenix' first summer session.

The safety has been preceeded to West Virginia by defensive back Brantwon Bowser, who has already enrolled at WVU and is attending classes during the spring semester. Stuart is happy to have a friendly face awaiting him at his new college home.

"It will help out a lot," he said of Bowser's presence. "He will have a semester under his belt, and that experience will help him. He will be acclimated and know the ropes and that will help me too. I've gotten to talk to him a little bit about it. But, I'm not worried about coming in this summer."

Stuart received initial interest from schools such as North Carolina and San Diego State, but a torn labrum and a 2007 redshirt season at Phoenix caused many of those schools to drop out of his recruitment. California and Northern Iowa, among others, stayed in the picture, but West Virginia's late push carried the day.

With Stuart and Bowser in the fold, West Virginia will redouble its efforts to attract Tevita Finau and Aki Vakalahi to West Virginia. Stuart noted that he talked with Finau about the West Virginia offer, and that Fianu urged him to accept it, but that he did not discuss Finau's plans with him.

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