Finally, An Opportunity

Spring football practice is always a chance for young and unknown players to prove themselves. During West Virginia's first week of drills this spring, one running back feels as though he finally has the opportunity to prove his worth.

When WVU released its depth chart for spring football a few weeks back, the running back spot was likely not the first place where fans and media types turned their attention. With sophomore-to-be Noel Devine returning to the fold fresh off a fantastic freshman season which included a breakout game in the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, replacing the productivity of former All-American Steve Slaton was not a chief concern for Mountaineer football observers.

Sure enough, Devine's name was perched atop the depth chart in the backfield alongside senior quarterback Patrick White. Behind him? Some guy named Mike Poitier. Even the most hardcore of Mountaineer fans doesn't know Mike Poitier from Sidney Poitier.

So ,with that in mind, it begs the question. Just who the heck is this guy sharing reps with Noel Devine?

"Well, for one I'm a hard worker," Poitier told "I'm disciplined, and I'm always for the team. It really doesn't bother me that nobody knows who I am. I just keep trying to prove myself, and hopefully eventually (people) will know who I am."

For three years, players around the WVU football program have known who Poitier is. They've seen him week in and week out, busting his hump on the scout team running the opposition's plays. Twice (2005 and 2006), Poitier was honored by the Mountaineer coaching staff as one of the scout team players of the year.

And while his upbeat attitude would lead one to believe that a fourth season on the scout team in 2008 would not leave Poitier down in the dumps, the reality is that the time is now for the Pembroke Pines, Fla. native to strut his stuff with the first and second teams.

In the fall, head coach Bill Stewart will welcome no less than three scholarship running backs into the Mountaineer family. This means that Poitier has exactly 15 practice sessions this spring to show why he, and not one of the newcomers, should enter fall camp as the chief understudy for Devine.

"It's all about working hard," he said. "I've got to work hard every day, and come out knowing I have to prove something."

To tell the truth, Poitier has been trying to prove himself ever since he came to WVU in the fall of 2005. After a solid high school career playing at the highest level in Florida, offers to play in college were few and far between. So few, in fact, that the soft-spoken speedster spent a year sitting out before coming to WVU.

"That was a rough time for me," he said. "I had a lot of little schools looking at me, but I always knew I wanted to play at a big school and I could. I ended up sitting out a year, but with the help of my father and some other people I ended up getting a shot to come up here."

And now, he's getting his shot to stick around as more than just a scout team superstar. Even though he's known nothing but the taxi squad in his Mountaineer career, he always believed the day would come when an opportunity presented itself for meaningful playing time.

"I really did, I really did. I just kept praying, and kept working hard. I knew I would get a shot," Poitier said.

With the opportunity now firmly in his grasp, Mike Poitier will do everything he can to ensure that it doesn't slip away.

"I get to prove myself to the coaches that I can do it, and everything's fresh," he explained. "If I ever feel like I'm getting too comfortable, then that's going to be a problem for me. I always want to come out here and work hard to prove to myself and my coaches that this is where I should be."

Even if you don't yet know his name.

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