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WVU football: Dorchester says job is same after promotion

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Apart from the official title and paycheck, hardly anything has changed for Ryan Dorchester.

He is now the West Virginia football coordinator of recruiting operations. He has been with the program for every year but one since 2004, and the past three years he was a graduate assistant for recruiting.

Now he's in possession of the full-time gig at a time when the Mountaineers are altering their approach as they head to the Big 12 Conference. His reward? A cozy pay bump from the scant GA salary to $35,000 annually.

Yet the work is the essentially the same and he figures the results will be, too, which is all interesting considering Dorchester's background.

He grew up a Penn State fan and went to a few games every year with his father, a proud Happy Valley graduate.

Dorchester wanted to go there "until I saw the tuition," and he was hooked on WVU upon his first visit to the campus with his parents.

He knew he couldn't play sports in college, but he wanted to be a part of sports and his high school coach encouraged him to work as a student manager as the coach had done when he was a student at Ohio State. Dorchester did that for four year beginning in 2004.

Dorchester started school aiming for a degree in sports management, but he switched to education and finally graduated with his bachelor's in history. By 2008, he was content to work on his master's in higher education leadership.

"I was just a normal student, working in the Allen Hall computer lab and hanging out," he said.

After the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the program had an opening for a graduate assistant and some of Dorchester's old contacts reached out to see if he was interested.

"There was no logical method to my madness," he said.

That has certainly changed. It has to in his position with his boss. Coach Dana Holgorsen has made recruiting a top priority, hence the creation of a full-time position, and Holgorsen has a pretty methodical approach.

Now, recruiting is really no different than it was before. It's more important, more competitive and more a matter of public consciousness than before, but the work is the work.

Dorchester said Holgorsen nevertheless squeezes what he can out of the process.

"I don't know if there's a secret, a hidden edge that you can find because I think it's very well-noted and very well-covered, but what you can do is be thorough," he said.

And so Holgorsen includes a question with just about every discussion about a prospect: "Why?"

"As in, 'Why do you like this kid? Why is this kid better than the other kid?'" Dorchester said. "You've got to be able to back it up with something other than, 'Just because.' You can't go with, 'He's going to be a great ballplayer. He'd be a great fit.'

"Those are cliché terms. You have to point to specific stuff to explain what you think. You've got to be able to base your opinion on something."

The Mountaineers arrive at some of those conversations in a somewhat unconventional manner.

No, there aren't many covert activities they can conduct that others don't. There are few unexploited areas in recruiting. WVU does look at some things others don't, like highlight tapes of an uncommitted player in his senior season.

"I haven't cold-called every university and said, 'Hey, how much senior tape do you watch?' but I think there are some kids we recruited who I honestly don't think a lot of teams sat down and watched after their senior year started," Dorchester said.

"Part of that is the time crunch. A kid in his senior season making a state title run, they're playing all the way up to December and you've got to ink them in February."

Dorchester said the Mountaineers have focused on senior tapes the last two falls and named sophomore quarterback Paul Millard, sophomore running back Dustin Garrison, freshman receiver Jordan Thompson and freshman safety K.J. Dillon as the prizes.

"All I do is make recommendations and say, 'Hey, you need to take a look at this kid. He's getting attention. You need to watch his tape,'" Dorchester said. "Kids going into their senior year may mature a lot as a senior. You think about it, a lot of these are 17- and 18-year-old kids. They're going through puberty. They're going to get bigger.

"I think a lot of schools set their boards at the end of the summer and say, 'This is where we're at and we're not going back,' so they don't re-evaluate a kid who may be under the radar."

The Mountaineers then take to the Internet to track some of their targets.

"Local newspapers, when you get into the fall, are the most reliable sources for statistics," Dorchester said. "You don't base everything off a recruit's high school statistics, though. You try to figure out some of that stuff on your own.

"Statistics probably speak more to what players can do in baseball than football, which is not nearly as easy because of competition, the offensive system, things like that. A quarterback might have absolutely no talent around him. Not to say you should completely disregard stats, either, but if a quarterback has a 25-percent completion percentage, that should probably raise a red flag."

*  *  *

WVU received its sixth football verbal pledge and the second offensive lineman in the 2013 recruiting class Thursday.  

Tyler Tezeno, from Houston, chose the Mountaineers over a list of other scholarship offers, including ones from LSU, Arizona State, Boise State and Northwestern.

The 6 foot, 3 inch, 285-pound Tezeno, from Klein Collins High, was recruited by offensive coordinator/receivers coach Shannon Dawson. He joins New Jersey tackle Marcell Lazard as linemen in the upcoming class. rated Tezeno as a three-star prospect and the No. 35 guard in his class. gave Tezeno three stars and ranked him the No. 10 center. Tezeno plays tackle for his high school team, but figures to be an inside player for the Mountaineers.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at or 304-319-1142. His blog is at


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