Ties That Bind

Mike Cook has known WVU assistant coach Chris Beatty for a long time. So it wasn't surprising, when he took the head coaching job at Petersburg High School, that he contacted his former teammate about a rising prospect.

Cook, who played with Beatty at East Tennessee State, got the head coach job on the first day of practice last year. One of his first actions was to text Beatty and tell him about a potential prospect.

"I texted Chris and told him there was a player down here that had a lot of potential," Cook related. And when I told him his name, Quinton Spain, Beatty couldn't believe it. "He said, ‘Are you kidding me? How do you know him?'" Cook said with a laugh. "He told me to quit joking around, and I told him I was coaching him."

It turns out that Beatty already knew about Spain, who was growing into a massive offensive lineman. Once Cook heard that, he knew that Beatty would be renewing his ties. That process paid off on Saturday when Spain (6-6, 345 lbs., 5.2) committed to West Virginia, becoming the first member of the class of 2010.

"Chris did a great job in recruiting him," Scott said. "I also knew Bill Stewart from his time at East Tennessee, so I had some familiarity there."

Beatty is one of West Virginia's successful young recruiters, who handles Virginia and Washington, D.C. for the Mountaineers. As such, he had already heard of Spain, but it didn't hurt that he had a former teammate on the scene.

Those ties didn't lead Scott to push Spain to commit, however. In fact, he had encouraged Spain to take some additional visits and see what other schools had to offer. In addition to West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan State and Connecticut had all expressed interest and encouraged him to visit. However, when West Virginia made an offer, Spain found the early offer too good to turn down.

"I told him, we can jump in the car and go visit North Carolina or whoever and see what they have to offer, but he knew that when West Virginia offered him that was the team that wanted him the most, and that was important to him. He's committed. Very committed. When I asked him about visiting, he said, "I'm a Mountaineer, coach."

WVU's interest in Spain also sparked another fire inside the big tackle.

"He has come a long way since his freshman year," Scott related. "When he started his junior year, he was surprised to hear from West Virginia and of their interest in him, and it's made a difference. He's going to finish up this year with a 3.0 GPA, and he has really come around. I absolutely think it was the recruiting interest that has helped him in the classroom."

Spain's turnaround in academics paralleled an upward curve on the field. Scott believes that his standout, who also plays defensive tackle and defensive end, could wind up in the professional ranks. When asked if he thought Spain was quick enough to play on the left side of the offensive line in college, he took it one step further.

"To be quite honest, I think he can be a tackle in the pros. He is quick on his feet, and very mobile. I attribute a lot of that to his basketball career. He's been playing since [youth] rec leagues, all the way through middle school, and he's now starting on a varsity team that's 21-0 and ranked #1 in the state. He can move for his size, and I think he would have no problem playing left tackle in college."

Spain also plays baseball and runs track, which are further testaments to his mobility and overall athletic ability.

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