Quarterback Eugene Smith and wide receiver Stedman Bailey obviously have a number of ties as integral parts of Miramar High School's offense. The sharp-throwing QB and heady receiver are in sync with each other in Miramar's passing attack, and will certainly benefit from the hours of time they have spent with each other on the practice field. However, those aren't the only items that the duo, which committed to West Virginia earlier this week, has in common.
"Eugene is very poised. Even as a freshman, when he started, he had that," said Miramar head coach Damon Cogdell, a WVU alumnus who coaches the duo. "And Stedman, he is just so smooth, nothing bothers him."
The ability to perform under pressure is also shared by the pair, who have both played in the spotlight generated by big games.
"They should have a big advantage in college, having played together in high school," Cogdell confirmed. "They know each other, and are familiar with what each other does. I think that, plus the similar offense, will help them a lot."
Miramar runs a spread offense that has much in common with West Virginia's base system. However, with Smith and Bailey, Cogdell throws the ball much more than he runs it.
"Our spread is a little different, because Eugene prefers to throw the ball. He can run it, but throwing is what he is best at. He can make all of the throws, and I do mean all of them. He can throw the ball with touch, and he can throw it hard."
Cogdell also notes that Smith is a leader both on and off the field.
"He volunteers in a soup kitchen that's run by his church, and is a really good kid," Cogdell noted. "Starting as a freshman, he was able to handle that. And he calls a lot of plays on his own now. He's just very comfortable and knows what we want to do."
Not surprisingly, Bailey shares some similar qualities that make him a dangerous weapon on the field.
"He has large hands, and catches the ball well, and he really becomes a running back once he catches the ball," Cogdell explained. "He has a great understanding of the game, and he's just so smooth. He's exceptional at catching the ball."
Both players continued to forge their ties with workouts during the spring and summer. Those have paid off in several ways, both in the form of success for Miramar this year, as well as a college scholarship for each. Cogdell did tell them about his experiences at West Virginia, but did not try to force a decision on them.
"I told them about the fans, and about my experience there, but I didn't push them," Cogdell said. "When West Virginia's coaches came down, we rehashed some old time. I've talked a lot with Doc Holliday, Steve Dunlap, Donnie Young and JaJuan Seider, and we always have some time to talk about when I was there."
Seeing those bonds might well have had an influence on the decisions of Smith and Bailey, who noted that a family atmosphere and building relationships were important parts in their decision to commit to West Virginia. They also likely saw the influence those coaches had on their head coach.
"It's really not too different now, being a coach and talking with those guys rather than playing for them," Cogdell said of his relationship with the WVU staffers that were at West Virginia when he played. "Those coaches were a big inspiration to me when I was there, and to get into coaching. I've learned a lot from them."