MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- There are a bunch of reasons Josh Francis is in the position he's in today. The junior college All-American transferred to West Virginia in January and has been one of the more impressive players in West Virginia's 14 spring football practices.
It might be that head start or his speed or his physique or his experience or his ability to pick up defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's defense so fast that has put him in the running for a starting linebacker spot for the fall.
His fate is truly in his hands.
The true motivation is on his hands.
"We get gloves all the time," he said. "At Lackawanna, you had to buy your own gloves and they're $50, $60. Gloves wear out fast. You may have them for a week or so and then you'd have to keep going even though they had holes in them."
He's not petty. He's making a point. WVU is a land of luxuries and free gloves whenever he wants, within reason, are among the delights of the major college football lifestyle. Ditto for cleats and T-shirts and wristbands and all the other accessories that were once scarce.
"I'm just saying I appreciate it more," he said on the FieldTurf at Mountaineer Field Wednesday. "I appreciate every single blade of grass. If this was grass, I'd appreciate every piece of grass."
Lackawanna (Pa.) College is a very good program - the team won the 2010 Graphics Edge Bowl and finished 9-2 and ranked No. 12 in the final NJCAA poll - and gets players to the FBS level.
Francis is one of many and 42 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and seven sacks got him a spot on the NJCAA's first-team All-America list. Yet life is just different at that level.
It's not bad. After all, Francis wouldn't be here unless he was there first.
Now that he's here, he sees things unlike many others.
"The weight room there probably goes from the corner of the end zone to the goalpost and probably is just as wide, maybe a little more, if not the exact size," he said. "It's smaller. We don't have certain weight systems that work on certain muscles."
The Mountaineers have a first-class weight room that's 22,000 square feet and features sophisticated equipment.
"It's very specialized here," he said. "It's more like I'm lifting to be strong, fast and flexible instead of just lifting to be strong."
The work on the field isn't nearly the same, either.
WVU is governed by specific rules for spring and preseason practice. The Mountaineers, like everyone else at their level, can only practice so many times and there are rules within those rules. Players can work out in pads or go full-contact on a certain number of days. They're required to be in shorts and feature no tackling on other days.
"When I came here and found out we practice some days in shells and some days in shorts and helmets, that was a shock," he said. "Back at Lackawanna, we practiced from August to the end of the season - every day, even before the games - hitting and going to the ground. I did that for 2 1/2 years. I don't get too tired out here."
Francis feels the difference and it shows on the field.