Stew's Views: Signing Day

The first day for football recruits to sign national letters of intent came and went with many expected occurrences, a mild surprise or two, and some colorful comments from WVU's head coach.

In the interest of keeping things a bit on the lighter side (on a day which can otherwise be so serious), we'll start things off with a top-five list of comments from Bill Stewart.

Afterwards, we'll delve into a snippet of what the West Virginia head coach had to say about each of the 19 players who signed binding letters of intent to play their football for the Mountaineers.

NUMBER FIVE:

Dante Chambers, from Miramar (Fla.) High, was not a package deal to get a signing from highly-touted receiver Ivan McCartney, from the same school.

According to Stewart, each was evaluated on his own merits. And part of that evalutation of Chambers was a chat with current Mountaineers and former Miramar players Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey.

"When his name came up, I immediately went to Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey," Stewart recalled. "I said, ‘Tell me about Dante Chambers.' They said, ‘He's a nicer guy than us, he stays home more than we do, and he plays more Nintendo video games than we do.'"

"He's faster than Ivan, faster than Stedman. And Geno said, ‘He's faster than me.' That told me a lot about him."

NUMBER FOUR:

Ever the master of the catch-phrase, quick to use a motivational tactic at any opportunity, Stewart revealed a message he had sent out to his players and other friends and family.

He said it applied to the future of the recruits that took the plunge and signed up to be Mountaineers on Wednesday.

"I am a member of a team," Stewart recited. "I rely on the team. I defer to it and sacrifice for it. Because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion."

"If these 19 adhere to this plan, buy into this plan, they will be great additions to Mountaineer football."

NUMBER THREE:

When talking about the surprise signing of Qudral Forte from Atlanta, Ga., Stewart said his staff had remained tight-lipped about its pursuit of the defensive back, out of fear that others might come calling if it became public knowledge.

He talked about sneaking in side doors at Forte's Booker T. Washington High, so Auburn coaches wouldn't see him. He said he had even mentioned the names of other potential recruits in the area, just to throw other coaches off the track of who WVU was really after.

And then, Stewart revealed what he might go into after his whole football coaching gig was done.

"You didn't know, but in my later years, I'm going to be an FBI agent," he said, drawing laughs.

NUMBER TWO:

While Stewart never mentioned him by name, some thinly-veiled shots at departed assistant coach Doc Holliday were part of the festivities.

Those occurred when the head coach was talking about the decision to not use Holliday's replacement, Dave McMichael, in the recruiting process this year.

"We were down two men (after Lonnie Galloway returned home after the death of his mother). I called Coach Edsall and said I wasn't going to bring Dave McMichael in until after Signing Day. He said, ‘You don't have to do that.' I said, ‘Oh, but I do. Randy, you and I are friends. Dave can stay up there until Feb. 3 and finish up your recruiting. I don't want him. I don't need him. Then, you can send him on down.'"

"Dave and Randy spoke, and Randy said, ‘He's ready to come on down there.' So I told him to talk to no University of Connecticut recruits in any way. I sent him on the road and he went to visit juniors up in Pennsylvania. That's one of the reasons Dave McMichael was hired back -- we're going to hit western PA, where Dave was very successful."

"That was my call. I said, ‘We'll see you Feb. 4. You stay and do your job for the University of Connecticut Huskies.' But Randy told him to come, so he came."

"I would not allow him in any way, shape or form to talk to any Connecticut Husky -- nor would Dave McMichael do that, because he's a class man and a quality human being. We don't do that at West Virginia. I want everyone to understand that."

NUMBER ONE:

When talking about the recruitment of quarterback Jeremy Johnson, Stewart couldn't help but reveal what happened on a recent visit to the 4-star signal-caller's native east Texas.

It was a bit of a humbling moment for the coach, but it provided a good bit of laughs. It revolved around a dinner Stewart shared with Johnson and his family at an area establishment.

"I'm at the table. I bought mine, they bought theirs -- let's make sure that's out there," he said, drawing laughs. "Some kind of wings place out in Beaumont. The waiter comes over, and I had just this (pointing to a sweater vest with a Flying WV logo on it) on right here."

"The guy says, ‘West Virginia, huh?' And I said, ‘Yes, sir.' I had my glasses on. That's what threw him. He said, ‘I watched that game.' I said, ‘Did you?' He said, ‘Yeah, I saw that Gator Bowl.' I said, ‘Yeah, I saw that Gator Bowl, too.'"

"He said, ‘Boy, that was a heck of a story, coach Bowden going out like that.' I said, ‘Yeah, it was a heck of a story.' He said, ‘You know, that coach played for coach Bowden.' I said, ‘Yes, he did.' The mother and the kids are looking from me to him, me to him."

"He was working hard for a tip, man. He said, ‘That coach seems like a heck of a guy.' I said, ‘He's a hell of a guy! He was a walk-on, a lineman.' He said, ‘Yeah, that was a heck of a story.' I was leaving, and he said, ‘You know, I know football.' I said, ‘Yes, you surely do.' He never knew who I was. So never let your ego get in the way."

COMMENTS ON EACH SIGNEE:

  • Travis Bell.

    "Why he's a free safety is because he had 10 interceptions as a senior, and he roams sideline to sideline."

  • Barry Brunetti.

    "Tremendous football player. State champs. You can read all the things about Barry Brunetti, but let me tell you this fact. Listen, and listen very closely about this young man -- he has not lost a football game he started in since the seventh grade."

  • Dante Chambers.

    "Quick, elusive, speedy little slot receiver. I didn't want a bunch of little ones. I wanted tall, fast athletic guys. Dante is about my height, so I guess that's tall enough. But he's fast and he's quick. He does a nice job."

  • Trevor Demko.

    "Nice young man, a lot of frame. Kirlav likes ‘em long armed, big guys. Nice youngster, great player."

  • Mike Dorsey.

    "This guy is a tremendous athlete. I hope we can keep him at safety -- not free like Travis Bell. He will be that spur, bandit, come off the edge and blow you up guy. And he has great cover skills."

  • Qudral Forte.

    "Here's a surprise that we kept very, very closed-mouthed. The reason we did it, every time we get on somebody and West Virginia is the first to offer, here they come. Here they come. This one, we kept very close to the vest. He's good enough to play major college quarterback. (He runs a) 10.7 (second) 100 meters."

  • Troy Gloster.

    "He's a great student, from a great school and he is a heck of an athlete. I recruited his older brother, Drew, who was a heck of a football player at Maryland."

    "I didn't do as good of a job recruiting him as coach Casteel did recruiting Troy, but when this kid was younger, every time we talked to Drew, we would talk to Troy. You always recruit the little brother. Never neglect the little brother. This is a great reward from about eight years ago."

  • Bruce Irvin.

    "Big, explosive pass-rushing defensive end. We're absolutely thrilled. We had to fight them off. This was a tough one. This is the JuCo player of the year. Probably the number one pass-rusher in America. We needed that."

  • Jeremy Johnson.

    "Jeremy Johnson is fast (going on to say he had ran a 10.6 100-meter dash and recorded a 24-foot long jump), and he could play at, and turned down, many schools."

  • Trey Johnson.

    "He can fly. He may be the fastest man in Virginia. He's not tall tall, but he's tall enough. He can take that ball when he sticks his foot in the ground. Coach Beatty couldn't have found a better one than this guy anywhere."

  • Quantavius Leslie.

    "He played defensive back (in high school) at 6-foot-4. Knee-bender. Spider. This big, long-armed dude. He can play. Played basketball. He doesn't say much. He has a chance to be an outstanding tall receiver."

  • Deon Long.

    "He's here at school. He's a tremendous athlete. We're counting on him to play both inside and outside."

    "He's going to give immediate help. He can punt return, catch, and is doing very well."

  • Ivan McCartney.

    "Ivan McCartney really, really brings a lot to the table. I won't go overboard on him, because I'm sure enough will be said and written about him. The poor fellow will have a hard time living up to his billing. He's special. He can stretch the field and go get the ball."

  • Doug Rigg.

    "This guy's fast, can play, can run, will hit. He does a really nice job."

  • Jewone Snow.

    "He's very focused. His dad is still young and strong, and these guys lift and work out together. I'm so impressed with Jewone Snow. To get that kind of youngster out of Canton McKinley is a real coup for the Jeff Mullen recruiting effort."

  • Quinton Spain.

    "I saw him, along with coach Beatty, play a basketball game in Richmond. He put in 30 (points) out of 70. He had the softest left-handed jump shot I've seen in years. He bats balls. He's athletic."

    "Stay out of the paint when Big Q is coming. This guy is a great athlete, and has a chance to be one fine football player. He's a neat young man."

  • Wes Tonkery.

    "Steve Dunlap personally went in and did a great evaluation of this man's character and what we're looking for in a Mountaineer football player. This young man had top billing. He's a remarkable youngster who likes to play, and plays very, very well."

    "He has a chance to be a really good player. He's a nice, tall rangy fellow, that really does a nice job."

  • Marquis Wallace.

    "He's grown and grown and grown, and he might be the best student of the game we've recruited. Very sharp, very articulate, and a big-time studier of the game. He is really on it."

    "He gets it. He's going to be a great player and is really very nimble for such a big man."

  • Avery Williams.

    "This was a great job by coach Beatty. We thought we were going to lose him. He wanted to try to go to school in January. We thought we were going to lose him to a school out west, but we didn't."

    "He's going to hang in there and he'll be in May 18. We just couldn't get him in for the start of our second semester. But he would be ready to come right now. He's ready."


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