MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It isn't necessary, but it helps, to have a soda drinker peddle Coca-Cola and a bona fide consumer of meat products convince one to buy a couple slabs of steak at the supermarket.
When it comes to selling an impressionable teenager on the merits of the West Virginia University football program, the best salesman for a future Mountaineer can be a former Mountaineer.
"You can say what you want, but it takes special people to want to be at West Virginia," running backs coach JaJuan Seider said. "Everybody doesn't want to be here; you have to get the guys who want to be here."
Seider, a Belle Glade, Fla., native who played at WVU (1997-98) and returned as a graduate assistant (2008-09), is in his third stint as a Mountaineer, this time as a full-fledged assistant. Seider and fellow assistants Tony Gibson (safeties) and Lonnie Galloway (receivers) just completed their first season on coach Dana Holgorsen's staff, and Damon Cogdell (defensive line) was hired last month.
Those four assistants have a common thread as former Mountaineers, either as a player (Cogdell), assistant (Gibson and Galloway) or both (Seider).
That carries clout. Just take a look at Holgorsen's 2014 recruiting class, which was unveiled Wednesday afternoon inside the team room at the Puskar Center. There were 21 players listed as newcomers, but six enrolled in January for the spring semester. Of the other 15 signees, 10 were recruited primarily by or with the assistance of Seider, Gibson, Galloway and Cogdell.
They know what they're selling to the prospective student-athlete. They drink the pop and eat the steak.
"It helps a bunch," said Gibson, a Van native who worked on Rich Rodriguez's staff from 2001-07. "Anytime you can be sincere and be genuine with what you're selling, people don't see through it. You can come in and say 'Oh man, my school has this and this and this,' but the parents aren't dummies. They do their homework. They understand and they know."
Seider and Galloway worked together to lure highly touted running back Donte Thomas-Williams - a 4-star prospect by the four major recruiting services - to Morgantown. Seider locked up Miami, Fla., receivers Jacob McCrary and Lamar Parker, and Jensen Beach, Fla., linebacker Xavier Preston.
Galloway, who is known for recruiting Tavon Austin to WVU, returned to the West Virginia coaching staff 13 months ago. His first directive from Holgorsen was to visit Baltimore's Dunbar High School, which produced Austin, to strike up a relationship with Class of 2014 quarterback prospect William Crest.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Crest, a 4-star prospect by ESPN, 247Sports and Rivals, followed through with last April's verbal pledge and signed Wednesday.