Signing Day: Kirkland, UC begin post-Roberts era
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - University of Charleston Coach Pat Kirkland isn't looking for the second coming of Jordan Roberts.
Still, one of the players he found during Wednesday's National Letter-of-Intent Day will help ease the pain of the graduation of the Kennedy Award winner from Scott High School.
Kirkland and his staff signed 20 players during his third recruiting class, including a 5-foot-9, 200-pound running back from Lawrenceville, Ga. - Marvin Elam.
Elam squat thrusts 500 pounds and his stop-and-go ability and decisiveness caught Kirkland's eye.
"I think it's crucial to have a strong lower and upper body," Elam said. "That way, you're not going down on first contact, you need to have great vision and see the opening before it even opens."
Kirkland said Elam has these attributes.
"When you look at a running back, you look at feet and balance and vision," Kirkland said. "He's not a guy who will run away from anybody, he runs behind his pads, he's very decisive, gets downhill and gets positive yardage. That's what we're looking for."
Elam was a three-year starter at Mountain View High School, where he ran for 2,687 yards on 505 carries and added 42 receptions for 251 yards. During his career, Elam scored 26 touchdowns.
"Coach (Paul) Johnson did a tremendous job down there," Kirkland said of the recruitment of Elam. "He found Marvin, showed everyone the tape and we're all excited about him.
"When you lose a guy like Jordan Roberts and see the commitment we made with the running game, if I was a tailback, I'd be very excited about going to UC."
Elam said he's looking forward to the opportunity.
"I went over the offense with the coaches and that's my running back, coming out of the backfield, getting the ball 20 or 30 times a game," Elam said. "I know I can carry that kind of load. I'm getting stronger and I'm determined."
On the other hand, that's not necessarily bad news for Martinsburg's Justin "Cookie" Clinton, the runner-up for the Kennedy Award last season.
Clinton, who quarterbacked the Bulldogs to a state championship in December - their third consecutive title - is listed as a wide receiver among UC's recruits.
However, Kirkland said "the best 11 will play," and wouldn't rule out Clinton as a candidate at quarterback.
"He's a guy who will find a spot on offense for us," Kirkland said. "He can do a lot in the return game and as a specialist. The biggest thing is he's tremendous with the ball in his hands.
"We'll get our best 11 out there. I don't fear playing true freshman or fifth-year seniors, we want to put them out there and put us in the best position to win. We promise the guys the opportunity to compete and that's what they get."
Among the other state recruits UC has added are Logan Cox of Parkersburg South, a 6-3, 205-pound safety who verbally committed to FBS program Akron before signing with UC.
He had 90 tackles, nine tackles for loss and five interceptions as a senior for Coach Jon Bolen's Patriots last season.
"I'm fired up about him," Kirkland said. "We were very fortunate to get him."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.