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WVU football: Wilson is person to go to for Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- On one hand, you'd have a hard time finding someone better for the assistant director of football operations position at West Virginia than the person the Mountaineers just hired.

Quincy Wilson is, by seemingly every metric available, who and what WVU had in mind when penning the job description.

He is, after all, the former football hero here with the glorious career and the memorable play his vast pack of fans will never let him forget. He's from the state, was born into a football family and made it to the NFL on his own, so who better than him to understand the significance of football in any of these 55 counties?

So, yes, hire that guy and show him to his office. For someone who wanted to be involved in football and in shaping the lives of the next generation of players, but never really wanted to get into coaching, this is better than the next best thing. It is the best thing.

"I feel like with this position, if something would come up for the guys, whether it's getting in trouble downtown or feeling homesick, I want them to be able to come to me and say, 'Hey, Q, here's what's going on,' " Wilson said.

"I want them to trust me and I want them to know I'm going to shoot them straight. So that aspect of dealing with the kids that way is awesome because I feel like I experienced a lot of different things and unique things that will come up once you get here on campus. I want to be that guy they can lean on."

Yet there is also the other hand to consider, the one that holds some valuable information about Wilson that would make you think he's not the guy the Mountaineers want. You see, Wilson was never in trouble downtown. Home was just a car ride away in Weirton, so homesickness was never a problem.

He made good grades and greater impressions in the classroom. Compliance wasn't an issue either, except, maybe, that he complied just too much with the ideals of the modern student-athlete.

He concedes the point, but informs you while he didn't experience many of the struggles he'll deal with on a regular basis at WVU, but he did witness them and even tried to fix them when he was a player.

"I know a bunch of guys who had problems of their own," he said. "I had a roommate who transferred.

One day he said, 'Hey, I'm going home. I've got a girlfriend.' That was one of those things where I could say, 'Hey, it's going to be all right,' and you just try to help him through it.

"And me, I didn't get to play early, and if you're from here, you know what that means to come here and be expected to do something. But sitting there on the sideline, or not even dressing, I experienced that. There are some things that I did go through where I can say, 'Hang in there, this is what we're going to do,' and they'll know I'm in the corner."

So now take a closer look at his career from 1999-2003. He went through the Don Nehlen-Rich Rodriguez coaching transition and he saw teammates depart during that change. He went through a dramatic shift in philosophy and an equally dramatic shift in the results.

WVU wasn't great in his first two years, but WVU was just about awful in 2001 before turning it around in 2002 - and with Wilson serving as a major reason why.

And then there's that 2000 season, the one that may matter most as it relates to his new job. It was nothing like it was supposed to be for Wilson. He tore an ACL in the spring and went from sharing the spotlight with Avon Cobourne to missing the entire season and starting anew in 2001.

"I got a little taste of everything on special teams and playing a little bit of offense my first year and then in spring ball, it was like, 'It's going to be me and Avon,' and of course you're really excited," Wilson said. "Then you get hurt and you come back and there are five guys in front of you now. It was a big adjustment, but I think I handled it well."

Uh, 2,281 yards and 18 touchdowns the next two seasons support that conclusion. Quincy Wilson didn't have a Quincy Wilson to go to back then. He instead went to his father, Otis, the Super Bowl winning linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

"A lot of people don't have that, so I want to be that guy here at West Virginia now," he said.

That's what Dana Holgorsen wants, too. The WVU coach wants Wilson to take and report the pulse of the team. If the receiver is having a bad day and he's down because his grandmother is in the hospital, Wilson needs to know it and share it. If the linebacker is lagging because he's struggling in a class he's not attending, Wilson must know and tell. And if the running back is getting better and seeks just a little motivation, Holgorsen trusts Wilson knows what button the head coach must press.

"I want to know what your favorite movie is. What's your favorite color? Do you have a girlfriend? What are your day-to-day activities like?" Wilson said. "The quicker I get that down, the quicker I figure out how to approach them and then it's easier to get them going because you know them and you know how to pump them up.

"The big thing is to concentrate on the young guys coming in and to give them a plan for the four or five years they're going to be here. The quicker we get them adjusted, the more we eliminate the transfers, the more we eliminate the off-the-field stuff. My biggest goal is when you look on TV you don't see one of our guys is arrested for beating up his girlfriend or this guy got an underage consumption. I don't want any of that for our guys so I've got to get to know them and know what we've got going on here."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at or 304-319-1142. His blog is at


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