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New W.Va. State football coaches off to a good start

I hadn't had the opportunity to meet the new coaching staff of the West Virginia State football team earlier, so I attended their get-together at the school on Wednesday evening.

I ran into the coaches in the parking lot about half hour before the event and when we walked into the Wilson Student Union, Coach Jon Anderson stopped to straighten some papers in the lobby area and hoped to get a couple cleaning implements moved out of sight.

If you understand what it means to be organized when running an athletic program, you know what it meant to see him making sure everything was perfect.

If the first recruiting class is any indication, the talent could be there to go with that organization and the plans to win sooner rather than later.

"I told the guys that we're not looking back," Anderson told me. "We also understand that we want to do this right."

Translation: It might not happen overnight.

Still, the Yellow Jackets are heading in the right direction.

While every other school in the West Virginia Conference was releasing the names of its signees as they came in, State opted to wait until all of the expected players returned their letters of intent.

That was a curious decision and one that didn't sit well with many - including myself.

But, I digress.

One they were most interested in was a 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback by the name of Matt Kinnick.

Kinnick threw for 2,991 yards and 37 touchdowns with only three interceptions on 135-of-223 passing for Ohio Division IV school St. Clairsville, which he led to the state title game. He topped the State list of more than 30 signees on signing day - more than I can remember in the history of the program.

His letter wasn't returned until the afternoon because his parents forgot to sign their paperwork before leaving for work and he had to wait for them to return home. I'm sure that little glitch had some coaches sweating in Institute.

Brett McLean, a former Brooke High School quarterback who just completed his 11th season as head coach at St. Clairsville, said State got a steal.

"State is going to be happy with what they got," McLean said. "He had multiple offers, but State is the biggest package he got and they made a huge impression on him."

Kinnick didn't get any big offers because of his "stature," McLean said.

"There's a prototype as far as size and stature and I'm not making any comparisons to the NFL, but (5-11, 206-pounds) Russell Wilson is blowing up the NFL.

"Matt pondered walking on at a couple of big schools to take a shot at it. I actually encouraged that early on. I think the kid's going to wow some people. Obviously, there will be some transition."

Anderson said every player on his team will get a chance to start - including Kinnick. Also, every player has to be weary of his spot from week to week.

In two months, Anderson and his staff recruited and signed more than 30 players - it was 32 at the end of the day Wednesday and will likely go up.

For Kinnick's part, his high school coach said that Anderson and his staff - offensive coordinator Scott Courter was the primary recruiter of Kinnick - impressed his quarterback.

"That's a down to earth group of coaches and that's the kind of kid Matt is," McLean said. "I know the coaches are real excited about the new president, that he's making a commitment to athletics, putting some money into it and making some changes."

The State coaching staff is made up of full-time assistants, and although it seems obvious the Yellow Jackets have moved past the 13 or so scholarships they h ad in recent years, I'm not sure of the specific number.

No matter what it is, they seemed to be doing the right things with it - at least on paper.


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