Andrew Donnelly of Ephrata (Pa.) High School made the trip down to WVU for the Gold-Blue spring game on Apr. 18, and was duly impressed with what he saw on his first-ever trip to the school.
"I was very impressed, and I thought everything was well organized," the 6-5, 220-pound junior noted. "I really liked the facilities. The weight room is amazing – they told us it was the third largest in the nation. That really stood out."
Donnelly, who had drawn interest from Clemson, Michigan State, Auburn, Clemson, Temple and Pitt as well as WVU, isn't going into the process with any preconceived notions. Playing both tight end and defensive end, he is being recruited on the defensive side of the ball by the Mountaineers.
"I'm trying to keep a very open mind about recruiting," he observed. "I just want to be in the best program I can be in, and I want to be able to start as many years as I can."
Donnelly does not have any offers yet, but expects some to come soon as he hits the camp circuit. In addition to West Virginia, he has made a trip to Philadelphia to check out the Owl program, and also has plans to visit Maryland next weekend and Clemson in the future. He is putting together his summer camp itinerary, and although it's not yet complete, West Virginia is on the schedule.
"The West Virginia coaches want me to come down in June for camp so they can evaluate me in person. I want to be ready to do my best and go through everything at 100%. I don't feel any pressure in those situations, though."
That outlook is likely an outgrowth of Donnelly's play on the field for real. A great competitor, he relishes the one-on-one match-ups that comprise play at his position.
"I try to play as aggressively as I can, and my motor goes at 100% all the time." I enjoy playing on both sides, but at defensive end I really enjoy going up against that tackle on the other side of the ball. I like the competitiveness of that match-up. To be honest, if the guy across from me isn't competitive, then it's not as much fun for me."
That sort of spirit will certainly be valued by many teams, but Donnelly isn't resting on his laurels as he works to get offers. He is looking to gain some weight, and also wants to help his team improve. A captain of an Ephrata team that struggled last year, he thinks better things are in store for his senior season.
"We went through a rough season last year, but we just want to stress that we need to get better each week. This year, we have 17 returning starters, so we think we have the chance to do that."
Donnelly uses every chance that he gets to improve, and that included his time at WVU on Saturday.
"Every game, I try to look at what the players are doing at my position. I can watch them and try to emulate what they are doing. I watch games like a fan, too, and it was fun, but I can learn too."
In addition to playing time, Donnelly is also looking for the right academic fit. An aspiring sports medicine major, his school of choice will have to feature good academics in that area.
"I want to make sure that the coaches, wherever I go, have my best academic interests in mind too," he said. "That's the most important thing about college."