Stew's Views - Part I

West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart gave a rundown of all 23 recruits in the Class of 2008. Here are his comments on the first eight players listed in the initial segment of a three-part series.

"I'll go home and break bread with the wife for the second time since I was hired," Stewart said. "But that's a great problem to have. I can't say enough about everybody. It has been great. This is what we came up with, and we are very proud."

On John Bassler, a 6-5, 285-pound offensive lineman out of Maryland: "I recruited old Johnny Bassler's brother years ago. I saw him pitch as a 13-year-old and it scared me. He looked like a Babe Ruth up there. I told him then that he would be a great one for the Mountaineers some day. We are so blessed to have him on board."

Bio: Coached by Bill Hyson at Francis Scott Key High School … two-time all-Monocacy Valley Athletic League on offense and defense … two-time all-Carroll County selection … named as an offensive lineman to play in the Super 22 all-star game, featuring the best players from the Baltimore metro area … also played basketball and baseball … son of Robert and Carol Bassler.

On Tyler Bitancurt, 6-0, 180-pound kicker from Springfield, Va.: He came to camp last year and we were down to five kickers in the United States. We got all the films. We had all the guys in the computer. Then I told them to go back to their high schools and kick from the 30-yard line, because that is where we kick from. I don't care if it's raining, snowing, sleeting and I don't care if you kick 100 balls or 10 balls. I want 10 kickoffs from the 30. They did that, and Tyler Bitancurt had some of the finest kicks I have ever seen. We kick up here in the cold weather. It was in November and all 10 went into the end zone or out of it. I said that was the guy. So we went after him. Paul Woodside said he is the one you need."

Bio: Coached by Bill Renner at West Springfield High School … connected on 13-of-17 field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder, and made 49-of-50 extra points … the 13 field goals were the most in the state and tied him for the seventh-most in a season in state history … 70 of his 81 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks … had a 39.0-yard per punt average with a long of 60 yards … as a senior, he finished with 88 kicking points and had a two-year career total of 152 points … selected Washington, D.C. all-metro by the Washington Post as a senior …two-time first-team all-Patriot district punter and kicker … two-time first-team all-Northern Region punter … selected first-team all-Northern Region kicker as a senior … for his career, he finished with 15-of-20 field goals with a long of 50 yards, 107-of-108 extra point attempts, including consecutive streak of 70, 123 touchbacks on 147 kickoffs, and a 39.4-yard punting average with a long of 60 yards … had 29 punts land inside the opponent 20-yard line and 10 punts of 50 yards or more … three-year letterwinner in soccer … earned first-team all-district honors as a junior … son of Mauro and Teresa Bitancurt.

On Jeff Braun, a 6-5, 315-pound defensive lineman from Westminster, Md.: "A big, stout young man. He stayed on board through the whole transition and we are tickled about him. You can read about his strength and what he did. Jeff Braun is a fine young man. He'll be a tremendous football player. We offered him his junior year after camp."

Bio: Coached by Ken Johnson at Winters Mill High School … three-year, two-way starting center-defensive lineman … runs a 5.1/40-yard dash and benches 405 pounds … considered the best lineman outside the metro areas … finished with 57 tackles as a senior … for his career, he finished with 127 tackles, seven sacks, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries … 2007 Maryland consensus all-state by the Associated Press … named to the Baltimore Sun's all-metro team … three-time selection to the all-Monocacy Valley Athletic League and all-Carroll County teams … two-time first-team all-area by The Examiner … two-time first-team small school all-state selection … helped lead Winters Mill to the state playoffs as a sophomore and junior … set the record for the most bench reps at the 2007 Nike Baltimore combine … also played basketball for two years … Vice President of varsity athletic club … son of Stacey and the late Jeff Braun, Sr.

On Brantwon Bowser, a 6-0, 180-pound corner from Phoenix College: "He came to our practices out there (for the Fiesta Bowl), and you can see he runs well. He will be a fine defensive back."

Bio: Enrolled at WVU in January 2008 … coached by former Mountaineer standout Dale Wolfley at Phoenix College … runs a 4.5-40-yard dash and benches 300 pounds … played in six games and collected 14 tackles, including 10 solos … coached by Tom Bruney at Maryvale High School in Phoenix, Ariz. … a 2006 first-team all-state selection … a first-team all-region honoree … helped lead the Panthers to the semifinals of the state championships as a senior … also played basketball and ran track … ran a 10.7/100m dash … son of Robin Bowser.

On Ryan Clarke, a 6-1, 235-pound fullback out of DeMatha High in Maryland: "Great competitor. Sharp student and great young man. He came over here in the hopes that he might earn a scholarship some day. I said I want you to visit and I want us to get to know each other. I am in the people business. He won me over, and I am pretty hard to win over. His defensive coordinator played for me at William and Mary."

Bio: Coached by Bill McGregor at Dematha Catholic High School … runs a 4.5/40-yard dash and benches 335 pounds … finished with 35 carries for 456 yards and six touchdowns as a senior … first-team all-Washington, D.C. by … second-team all-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference … helped DeMatha to a 10-2 record, the WCAC Conference championship and a No. 4 ranking in Washington D.C. by the Washington Post … also helped lead the Stags to state titles as a sophomore (11-2) and junior (12-0) … he also ran track … son of Greg and Dale Clarke.

On J.J. Dorsey, a 6-0, 180-pound cornerback from Winchester, Va.: "He is a quarterback, a defensive back, and played basketball. The kid averages 20 points per game. I talked to people who said that if he does that over there, you gotta go after him so we went after him."

Bio: Coached by Tony Rayburn at Handley High School … ran and passed for more than 1,000 yards for three-straight years … accumulated 4,111 yards rushing and 5,643 passing yards over his career for a total of 9,754 yards of total offense, fourth best for career yardage all-time in Virginia … accounted for 2,872 yards of total offense as a senior, running for 1,175 yards and passing for 1,697 … collected 3,122 yards of total offense as a junior (1,344 run/1,778 pass) … selected all-state as a senior … three-year all-district and all-region and was named the Region II Player of the Year in 2006 … helped guide the Judges to the playoffs all four years and to the region championship as a sophomore and the district championship as a junior … an all-district and all-region selection in basketball … son of James and Yevette Dorsey.

On Larry Ford, a 6-5, 240-pound defensive end: "Big, rangy, fast defensive end. Fast, fast, fast. I am very pleased about him."

Bio: Enrolled at WVU in January 2008 … coached by Jeff Leiker at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas … registered 37 tackles as a sophomore, including 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery … earned second-team all-Region VI honors … helped Coffeyville to a 5-5 record and a first-round appearance in the region playoffs … coached by Barry Avant at Georgetown High School … as a senior, he collected 117 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks … named regional defensive player of the year … selected first-team all-low country … played in the South Carolina North-South All-Star game … member of the basketball team … runs a 4.7/40-yard dash and bench presses 315 pounds … son of Larry and Geneva Ford.

On Tevita Finau, a 6-5, 290-pound defensive lineman: "This guy may be the finest defensive lineman in the country today. Bill Kirelawich and Jeff Casteel went out there and knocked them right on their rear. Tevita Finau may the catalyst that opens up the Polynesian pipeline from Hawaii to West Virginia. That's what we are hoping. He was signed on his ability and I am hoping he will bring some of his buddies with him."

Bio: Coached by former Mountaineer standout Dale Wolfley at Phoenix College … 2007 second-team NJCAA All-American … collected 90 tackles, including 58 solo tackles, nine sacks, 20 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and six pass breakups … runs a 4.7/40-yard dash and benches 365 pounds … coached by Suaki Livai at Kahuku High School … helped guide the Red Raiders to the 2004 Hawaii state championship … also participated in basketball … three-year first-team all-state honoree … son of Tolu and Takinima Finau.

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