MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Isaiah Bruce is a coach's dream and a coach's dilemma.
To be fair to the redshirt freshman from Jacksonville, Fla., and to go by what peers are saying during his first spring with West Virginia's football team, the linebacker is more the former than latter.
"He's extremely talented," said Keith Patterson, the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. "He's got the body type and the athleticism we look for in our scheme because he makes plays in space. He's an explosive blitzer."
That's high praise for a player who hasn't taken a college snap and is behind junior Doug Rigg and sophomore Jared Barber in the middle, but it's also highly ironic since Bruce admits that "I don't like to run."
Perhaps that explains the 101 tackles and the six sacks he had as a senior for Providence School.
Then again, how does the 6 foot, 1 inch, 225-pound Bruce explain being the 2010 Class 2A state champion in the 300-meter hurdles?
"Well, I was strictly stuck on the 110 hurdles. That was what I wanted to win at states," Bruce said. "After my freshman year, my coach told me about the 300. I'm like, 'The 300? That's a long race and constant sprinting. I'm sticking with the 110.'
"Then my coach pretty much forced me into the 300 hurdles."
Bruce's first 300 race was as a sophomore at the district championships. He reached the state meet as a 10th grader then won the state title as a junior.
"After that, I thought, 'I've got my ring, I don't need to do it again,' " he said.
That didn't please everyone. His coach and his school wanted him to keep running. Bruce said Florida State was interested in offering a track scholarship, but the prep star declined.
His junior season for the Stallions football team, his third of four as a starting linebacker and his first of two in the middle, was good to him. The colleges were paying close attention and waiting to offer Bruce a scholarship.
No one in the program's history had gotten a scholarship to a BCS conference football school.
When he was a senior, there was no question he'd become the first and eventually choose WVU over offers from Purdue, Marshall and Wake Forest. Providence finished 10-2 and made the regional final and Bruce was a big reason why.
Yet with the future mapped out and his track days in his past, Bruce decided to play basketball, despite not playing since his sophomore year. There hardly was any time between the football and basketball seasons as a junior and Bruce wanted to devote his attention to football in the winter before going for that state title in track.