MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- If prospects were picked by pedigree rather than performance, then Jewone Snow would have been one of the more heralded recruits in West Virginia football history.
He still has plenty of chance to be that kind of big-time player. Snow's family roots provide oodles of promise for the Mountaineer redshirt freshman, who has been taking reps at No. 2 middle linebacker, behind veteran Najee Goode.
Never mind that he's also a product of Canton (Ohio) McKinley, one of the more storied high school football programs nationally ... and also the 1964 head coaching home of College Football Hall of Famer Don Nehlen, of WVU fame.
Snow's father, Garland Rivers, was an All-America cornerback at Michigan (1983-86). On his mother's side, Snow has two uncles of athletic stardom - former Michigan State and NFL linebacker Percy Snow, and former Michigan State and NBA guard Eric Snow.
At WVU, Snow also wears his father's former Wolverines' uniform No. 13.
"I don't look at it any more as pressure to live up to what they accomplished," said the Mountaineer linebacker recently in a Puskar Center interview. "I used to be that way.
"Coming up, I did, because a lot of people talked about it. Now, I'm just here trying to make my own name. I've got time to build, and after redshirting last year, I know a lot more about the defense and I'm in much better shape."
The assumption by many was that Snow would follow his father and uncles from Canton to the Big Ten, but in mid-December 2009, the Rivals.com 3-star linebacker committed to WVU, picking the Big East program over Purdue and Michigan State.
And after being a middle linebacker in the Bulldogs' 4-3 set in high school, Snow - now 6 feet 3, 230 pounds - learned it was a different world in defensive coordinator's Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 odd stack.
"It was a big adjustment and it just hits you when you first get into it," said Snow, who has been rehabbing a shoulder injury while matching reps and nudging just ahead - so far - of Notre Dame transfer Steve Paskorz for the backup role behind Goode. "You don't just go out and run to the ball. You have to know what you're doing.
"The thing I needed to really learn, and I have, is how the blocking schemes of the offense make a difference in how (the middle linebacker) gets to the ball. You have to recognize what they're trying to block to make something go where, and you have to play the gap."
Snow's contribution became more crucial this summer when the No. 2 middle linebacker out of spring ball - Branko Busick - was arrested twice for armed robbery last month and was dismissed from the WVU program.