CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jon Anderson hasn't earned his first victory as West Virginia State University's football coach, but he's looking toward some Mountain State talent to try and right the ship.
Hurricane two-way lineman Mitchell Fitzgerald, who was part of three Class AAA playoff teams with the Redskins, and George Washington quarterback Jon Alexander and linebacker Zach Malone are among the players who submitted their letters of intent to State during Wednesday's National Signing Day.
The Yellow Jackets finished 0-11 in Anderson's first season as coach, but the former defensive coordinator and 11-year member of the coaching staff of NCAA Division II power University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) had little time to recruit last year.
And, three of the losses came by a combined 22 points.
"It wasn't really a challenge," said Anderson when speaking of recruiting despite last season's 0-11 mark. "It's reality, we talk about it, but our plan and our vision did not change."
Anderson pointed to the upgrades on the Institute campus, including the basketball arena that's set to open March 1, as well as new dormitories, football facilities and his coaching staff.
"We have great things going on on campus and I still think State is a good, affordable education," he said. "You combine those things and we're very well received."
For Fitzgerald's part, he spent a lot of time with a successful high school program. In his four seasons at Hurricane, the Redskins were 30-16 with four postseason appearances and twice advanced to the quarterfinal round.
"They had a winless season, I'm sure you know that," Fitzgerald said. "I want to go there, do the best I can and hopefully turn that program around."
The 5-foot-10, 297-pounder said he considered wrestling in college, but thought better of it.
"One thing I love about wrestling is just you against somebody, nobody else," he said. "I love wrestling, but it's too hard on your body. Wrestling is a constant beating, beating, beating."
The three-year starter for Hurricane looked at NCAA Division III Bethany College as well, but "it's a lot farther than I wanted to go," although he admits that staying close played about "20 percent" in his decision.
Bethany is located in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle, almost 220 miles from Hurricane.
"I hate to live under my parent's roof the whole time," said Fitzgerald, who said he likes State's criminal justice program. "I want to go out and experience stuff. But, at least at State, if I get homesick or want to go home it's close."
The Patriots' duo of Alexander and Malone had highly successful high school careers as well.