WVU football: Mountaineers to put final touch on recruiting with camp
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia's football program puts the final touch on its busy summer of recruiting with Saturday's team camp, the last event before the Mountaineers start practice next Friday.
WVU accepted nine pledges during June and July - all but four of their current total for the 2012 recruiting class. If all goes well, more will agree to join following perhaps the most-anticipated gathering of the camp calendar.
WVU will play host to prospective student-athletes from Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas and Texas, where the program has become increasingly involved with Coach Dana Holgorsen and his assistant coaches and their contacts.
The Mountaineers had one player enroll in January and one in June after the coaching staff was reorganized, but thus far have only one player in the possible 2012 class.
"From what I've seen, the Texas kids fall into one of two camps: They commit very early or very late," said WVU assistant Daron Roberts, who recruits Dallas and east Texas. "It's important for us to make inroads early on and start to develop a relationship with the players an the coaches there."
High on the list of Texas targets in town for the camp are Wylie High teammates Noble Nwachukwu and Azuka Akozar, who by the end of the weekend could join Kincaid quarterback Ford Childress on the 2012 WVU commitment list.
Both players are defensive linemen. All of WVU's Texas recruits have been offensive players, with quarterback Paul Millard coming in the winter and running back Dustin Garrison enrolling last month.
Nwachukwu is a 6-foot-2, 240-pound end who can play outside linebacker while Azocar is a 6-1, 250-pound defensive tackle. Their parents are from Nigeria.
"They're both great kids and they're both pretty new to football," said their recruiting coach, Tony Mills, who is Wylie's secondary coach. "They're both smart and they both have their heads on straight. They're from great families and have great character. They work hard. You can say a whole lot of good things about both of them."
Neither is a veteran. Nwachukwu, 16, played basketball previously and his junior year with the football team was his first in the sport since eighth grade, thought he was second-team all-district. This summer is his first with the offseason conditioning program at Wylie, a Class 4A Division I school that was a semifinalist last season.
Mills said Nwachukwu has flourished and was timed at 4.63 seconds Tuesday in a 40-yard dash and has squatted 565 pounds and benched 315.
Azocar, who just turned 17, is the more accomplished player and last season made 75 tackles and had nine sacks. He's been slowed this summer by an ankle injury, which limited his exposure during sppring practice at Wylie and makes the WVU camp that much more important.
The distance from Texas to WVU was a concern, but they're making the trip with their parents, thanks to the persistent efforts of Roberts.
"The big thing with them is they're open-minded as they go through this whole process," Mills said. "I told them, 'You're going to be recruited throughout the nation and by a bunch of different schools,' and that can get overwhelming, but Coach Roberts has done a great job recruiting the guys and now they have heartfelt interest. They really do like West Virginia. They've done their research and they know the program and they know its fans."
Both are generating more interest now as schools buy into the idea both are raw players with so much to learn, but also so much time to improve. Nwachukwu has scholarship offers from Houston, Kansas, Iowa and New Mexico and interest throughout the Big 12. Akozar has offers from Rice, Western Kentucky, Houston, North Texas Air Force and others.
"You might be able to correct their stance and work on their football IQ and stuff like that, but as far as raw talent, they have it," said Mills, who coached at Louisiana's Northwestern State for four seasons and knows WVU assistant Shannon Dawson from when Dawson worked at Stephen F. Austin.
"I coached four years of college football and I would take both guys in a heartbeat."
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FOR THE first time since 2006, WVU is selling a mini-package of tickets to home football games.
Mountaineer Athletic Club donors and season-ticket holders had a previous deadline last week and the remaining public will be able buy a package of tickets to three games beginning Aug. 8.
Tickets for the combination of the Norfolk State, LSU and Louisville games cost $180.
The Mountaineers have sold about 34,200 full season tickets as of Thursday afternoon, roughly the same number as at this time last year.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.