www.charlestondailymail.com WVU Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers WVU baseball season comes to an end http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150521/DM03/150529757 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150521/DM03/150529757 Thu, 21 May 2015 22:06:20 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

TULSA, Okla. - Junior catcher Anthony Hermelyn was one of seven Oklahoma batters to get a hit, going 3 for 4, to help Oklahoma eliminated West Virginia University from the Big 12 baseball tournament, 6-1, at ONEOK Field.

The Mountaineers (27-27) managed just one run in 18 innings in the tournament, despite getting 15 hits combined in the two games. West Virginia fell to Oklahoma State 3-0 on Wednesday.

Ray Guerrini had two hits against the Sooners (33-26), who face the winner of Thursday's Oklahoma State-Kansas State game at 8 p.m. on Friday.

West Virginia stayed close until the eighth inning when Sheldon Neuse with a bases-loaded double to give Oklahoma a 5-1 advantage.

]]>
Former WVU running back Steve Slaton retires from football http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150521/DM03/150529758 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150521/DM03/150529758 Thu, 21 May 2015 22:05:16 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Steve Slaton, who ran for 3,923 yards in a three-season career with West Virginia University, announced his retirement on Thursday, via his Twitter feed.

His post, time-stamped for 2:32 p.m., read: “It has been a great ride. Thankful for the opportunity to play the game I love, but time for the next chapter in my life to begin.”

Slaton ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his seasons with the Mountaineers (2005-06) and was a Maxwell Award semifinalist and Doak Walker Award finalist in 2006.

The Levittown, Pa., native passed on his senior season and entered the 2008 NFL Draft, getting selected in the third round (89th overall) by the Houston Texans.

His career in the NFL lasted for four seasons and included two teams. He played a combined six games for the Texans and Miami Dolphins in 2011. During his NFL career, he ran for 1,896 yards on 442 carries, with 1,282 yards and nine TDs coming his rookie season.

Following his stint in the NFL, Slaton signed with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts on April 24, 2014.

He ran for 510 yards on 94 carries and one touchdown and caught 46 passes for 388 yards and four touchdowns last season for the Argonauts, who finished 10-10.

]]>
Mike Casazza: College hoops overhaul has influences outside NBA http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529882 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529882 Wed, 20 May 2015 21:22:27 -0400 MORGANTOWN - Somewhere along the line, college basketball will find a way to remember, embrace and champion college basketball. For now, it seems disparate desires pull the game in different directions.

The NCAA makes it clear that status quo isn't good enough. That's fine, because there are roadblocks on the path to progress, and someone needs to put hands on the obstructions and move them to the side.

It's hard to forge bonds with teams when players spend one year on campus before jumping to the NBA or when something like 40 percent of those who do remain in the college game end up transferring. You can fix that by presenting a better product, but it's been a long time since scoring has been as shaky, or as difficult, as it has been in recent years. It would be unfair to compare televised games to marathons, because marathons are quicker and sometimes more exciting.

We'll have to live with the whims of players who want to play professionally or play somewhere else. That's the new normal, and the legislation makes it perfectly acceptable, but the same rulebook is trying to bend to handle on some of the variables that make college basketball easier to enjoy. It's just going about it in a really unusual manner. The NCAA isn't doing things its own way. It's mimicking the ways of others while taking conflicting routes.

Check out what's happened lately. Included on a list of ideas is a proposal to shorten the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30. The NBA plays with 24 seconds. The NCAA is moving the arc under the basket out a foot so it's four feet away from the shadow of the rim. That's the NBA distance.

Shortening the shot clock should increase the number of possessions, escalate the pace and elevate point totals. Extending the arc brings post defenders into play quicker and reduces what can be displeasing back-a-defender-down offense. In short, it's supposed to make college more closely resemble the NBA.

This is a pattern, going as far back as pulling the 3-point line out in 2008 so it was a foot closer to the NBA line, and it's going to continue. There were discussions about copying the NBA and moving the ball to mid-court after timeouts. If the proposed suggestions are approved next month, officials will have the authority to penalize delays after stoppages in play by doing like NBA officials and awarding one-shot technical fouls.

This all has the attention of college coaches and administrators who wonder when college fans will flock to the NBA game with superior players and similar setups.

Yet when the rules committee came together to suggest new rules, there was a feeling the NBA wasn't the sole model. The people left the room sensing strong indications the NCAA is eyeballing the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The markings on the court, the way the game is timed, that has an NBA influence. But the way the game is played inside those marks and within the time constraints, that has a FIBA influence.

College basketball is trying to achieve and secure a free-flowing style of play where players with and without the ball can move without restrictions, where offenses are enabled to operate with ease and speed, where teams can play like international clubs. The NCAA will do many things to pursue this, like having officials call more fouls for contact on the perimeter, though this started in the middle of last season. In the Big 12, in-season memos made their way to teams that sought to prevent contact and really seemed to target WVU and its press - though officials were also encouraged to watch for players traveling out of traps, too.

The big ideas to facilitate offense are shortening the shot clock and extending the arc under the basket - and neither is exclusive property of the NBA. FIBA uses a 24-second clock and positions its arch 1.5 meters from the hoop, which is a little more than four feet.

It's more than a response to the suggestion the international game is more fun to coach, play and watch. It's a nod to the idea international players are more skilled. Moving the arc back diminishes the value of low post play, and that's one reason tall players from overseas are so often skilled shooters. Expediting possessions demands more movement from the ball and players as well as more immediate offense, which is the essence of free-flowing play.

It's asking more from players to get more from the game, but there's a big inconsistency with the expectation. America has high schools and AAU programs. Either one has a few weeks of practice before a schedule that features a bunch of games and infrequent interruptions for practice. Europe doesn't have much of a high school system but has academies and clubs that pluck players from schools and instruct them all year.

Of course one group is going to develop quicker or more dramatically than another, but there's no reason to envision the United States copying that model, no matter how much domestic soccer has benefited from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for almost a decade now. The NCAA can't legislate that change, much like it can't control an age limit in the NBA, which only magnifies the need for the college brand to solve itself sooner rather than later.

]]>
WVU opens Big 12 baseball tourney today vs. Oklahoma State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519150 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519150 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:58:08 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The last time West Virginia's baseball team played Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers left uncertain about where they were going. They beat the Cowboys in the opener of a three-game series but had the final two games canceled by weather. The road win against a team ranked No. 11 was useful for a squad trying to make the Big 12 tournament, but missing two games meant missing out on more opportunities to finish in the top eight of the nine-team league.

That delivered WVU to its final series of the season this past weekend needing to win two out of three against Texas Tech to avoid a ninth-place finish an exclusion from this week's event in Tulsa, Okla.

"The mentality was, 'Don't let us in the tournament. Don't let us in the tournament,'" Mountaineers coach Randy Mazey said. "Who knows what can happen? If this team we've got here gets hot at the right time, we're very capable of scoring a lot of runs against really quality pitching. If we're not giving up too many hits against quality hitting, when our backs are against the wall, we come out fighting, which is a sign of character." WVU won the fist two games against the Red Raiders and finished in seventh place in the final standings despite a loss in the regular-season finale. The Mountaineers open the Big 12 tournament at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday against Oklahoma State. The outcome this time will give WVU a much better idea of what's next in the double-elimination championship televised on Fox College Sports.

The Mountaineers won seven in a row and nine out of 10 at one point this season and later lost six straight and eight out of 10. They were nine games above .500 (21-12) after winning all three games against Butler in the first series at Monongalia County Ballpark but dropped to a game above .500 (24-23) after losing on the road at Virginia Tech.

Three wins in the final four Big 12 games and avoiding an all-or-nothing occasion Saturday on Senior Day against Texas Tech has rejuvenated the Mountaineers, who only have four seniors on the roster.

"The fact we've beaten every team in the league, other than TCU, gives us a lot of confidence going into it," Mazey said. "We know we can beat everybody, and it's hard for one team to beat another team four times in one year. I like our chances. We've got just enough pitching, I think, to go down there and, if we pitch well enough, get though this thing. Obviously, we're very capable offensively, and if we play like we did this weekend, who knows what can happen?"

The Mountaineers (27-25) finished sixth in the conference in batting average (.268) and led the way in home runs (49) and extra-base hits (156) and tied with Oklahoma State for the lead in slugging percentage (.414). Shortstop Taylor Munden led the Big 12 with 11 home runs. Second baseman Kyle Davis was third in batting average (.353). First baseman Jackson Cramer was third in home runs (eight), fourth in doubles (15) and sixth in slugging percentage (.532). Each was named second-team all-conference Tuesday, and Davis made the league's all-freshman team, where he was joined by starting pitcher B.J. Myers.

Additionally, starting pitchers Chad Donato and Ross Vance, relief pitcher Blake Smith and third baseman Justin Fox were named honorable mention all-Big 12.

The Mountaineers totaled 14 runs in the first two games against Texas Tech - and stranded nine runners in an 8-2 loss in the final game - after totaling 15 runs in the prior six games. That slide started with a three-game sweep by TCU when WVU was outscored 20-6.

"We talk about any time we mention the word pressure in practice or anywhere in our program, we say that's how you describe air in tires - it doesn't have anything to do with baseball," Mazey said. "Baseball's supposed to be fun, so come out here and have a good time. The fact we've really picked up our offense and the tempo of our offense has given our guys a little freedom at home plate to do some things. I think they're having a lot more fun standing in the batter's box knowing we're really trying to press the issue."

Should the Mountaineers win, they advance to an 8 p.m. game Thursday against either the No. 3 seed Kansas State or the No. 6 seed Oklahoma. WVU won two of three at Kansas State and lost two of three at home against Oklahoma during the season. A loss tonight sets up an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. against the Wildcats or Sooners.

WVU was 1-2 in the tournament last season after going 27-24 in the regular season.

"We went into the season with so many question marks on the mound where we thought if we could go .500 and get into the conference tournament, we'd be having a great season," Mazey said. "I thought about that very thing the other day, where if we had a good weekend we could have the same record we had last year, when we were a really talented, older team with a lot of experience. This team is overachieving, but I'm really, really happy with how we've played."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

]]>
Chuck McGill: NBA interest in Staten spikes with workouts http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519151 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519151 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:56:36 -0400 By Chuck McGill CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Juwan Staten sat in a Philadelphia airport Monday evening awaiting his delayed flight. He didn't mind. It was where his journey took him earlier in the day that mattered.

Staten, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound point guard who starred for three seasons at West Virginia University, worked out for the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday morning. He and four other NBA hopefuls participated in the 90-minute session at the 76ers' practice facility in front of coaches, front office personnel and scouts.

Staten is far from finished. He has 12 confirmed workouts for teams leading up to the June 25 NBA draft in Brooklyn, N.Y. At least three other teams are trying to line up schedules with the Dayton, Ohio native. He said he'll do whatever it takes to prove he belongs in this league.

"This is something I've always wanted," Staten said. "This is the dream, so I'm going to go for it with everything I got."

A busy schedule awaits. He is slated to visit Houston to work out for the Rockets next week, although the Western Conference finals could dictate when that visit occurs. He'll hustle to Oklahoma City for a session with the Thunder, and then he'll be in Phoenix with the Suns later this month. Visits to Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and Minnesapolis are scheduled for June. He'll make the L.A. trip a two-day stay and visit with the Lakers and Clippers back-to-back.

The schedule will only become more cluttered as more teams express interest in working out Staten before the draft.

"I got good feedback from Philadelphia," he said. "I felt I had a pretty good workout, but it's too early to tell anything. The fact that I have so many workouts lined up lets me know the interest is there."

Since his collegiate career ended in the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen on March 26, Staten has been preparing for a professional basketball career. He headed to Las Vegas to train at Impact Basketball for one month. The renowned training facility has worked with NBA players like John Wall, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Kevin Garnett, Ricky Rubio and Jerome Jordan, among hundreds of others. Devin Ebanks and Joe Alexander are former WVU players with ties to the facility.

Staten said his time there helped prepare him for the individual drills of the 76ers workout, plus 3-on-3 and 1-on-1 situations. He has no lingering effects from his senior season, which concluded with three NCAA tournament games in seven days and a 14-point effort against No. 1 Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.

The 22-year-old missed the last three regular season games and WVU's Big 12 tournament loss with left knee and groin ailments. He bounced back to play at least 33 minutes in all three NCAA tournament games.

"I feel great; my body felt good in the workout," he said. "I'm typically a well-conditioned athlete, but you never know what to expect. Once I got in there, I was good."

Staten is confident, but his draft prospects are a mystery. His name isn't one that surfaces on most mock drafts or pre-draft rankings lists, even though he was one of the nation's top point guards at WVU. Staten appeared on consecutive all-Big 12 and conference defensive teams his final two years with the Mountaineers, and he finished as one of four players in WVU history with 1,200 points, 400 assists and 100 steals for a career.

Staten did that in three seasons after playing the 2010-11 season at Dayton.

One knock on Staten seems to be his size, but that hasn't stopped diminutive point guards from flourishing in the NBA. A point guard Staten watches and emulates, Chris Paul, is 6 feet tall. A retired player Staten grew up idolizing is Allen Iverson, who was listed at 6-0. A former player for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati, Nick Van Exel, was listed at 6-1.

When Staten turns on his television to watch an NBA game, he searches for players like Paul, Jeff Teague and Mike Conley so he can "study them."

"I always look at smaller players and I try to take something from each and every one of them," Staten said. "I'm definitely going through that process right now, doing whatever a general manager might like that can get me in the door."

Staten feels he has shown he can play in the NBA when he has faced pro-caliber talent on the court. He remembers facing players like Austin Rivers, Brandon Knight, Kendall Marshall and Marcus Smart. He played on the same AAU team as Adrien Payne and Jared Sullinger.

"The list goes on and on," he said, "and I've held my own against everybody."

He stays in contact with his pro hoops friends, and they tell him he has a future in their league.

"I know my game," he said. "It's game that I've studied my whole life. A lot of guys I have played against my whole life are in the NBA."

If Staten isn't one of the 60 names called in next month's draft, he can latch on with a team as an undrafted free agent and open eyes in the NBA's Summer League. But with one workout done and more than a dozen on the horizon, Staten believes a team will find a spot for him.

It's why he proudly tweeted a photo on himself inside the 76ers locker room wearing a white Sixers practice jersey. He believes this tour of NBA cities won't be his last.

"I feel like I will get drafted," he said. "I feel like I've proved I belong and I'm still proving myself with all these workouts. I do think I'll get drafted. If not, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make the most of any opportunity ... I'll prove myself."

]]>
Mountaineers place eight players on all-Big 12 baseball team http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519158 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519158 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:51:00 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Eight West Virginia University baseball players were recognized by the Big 12 Conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Sophomore first baseman Jackson Cramer, freshman designated hitter Kyle Davis and senior shortstop Taylor Munden were named to the All-Big 12 second team. Four others were honorable mention selections, and right-hander B.J. Myers was an all-freshman pick along with Davis.

TCU's Cody Jones was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, and Oklahoma State's Michael Freeman was selected as the Pitcher of the Year.

Kansas' Ben Krauth was named the league's Newcomer of the Year and TCU's Connor Wanhanen was chosen as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

The awards were announced ahead of the start of the Big 12 tournament, which begins Wednesday. Seventh-seeded West Virginia plays second-seeded Oklahoma State in the first round at 8:30 p.m.

The Big 12 tournament will be played at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Okla.

Player of the Year: Cody Jones, TCU

Pitcher of the Year: Michael Freeman, Okla. State

Newcomer of the Year: Ben Krauth, Kansas

Freshman of the Year: Connor Wanhanen, TCU

Coach of the Year: Jim Scholssnagle, TCU

All-Big 12 First Team

Name, School Position Class

Gage Green, Oklahoma State C Sr.

Shane Conlon, Kansas State INF Sr.

Kolbey Carpenter, Oklahoma INF Jr.

Sheldon Neuse, Oklahoma INF So.

Donnie Walton, Oklahoma State INF Jr.

Eric Gutierrez, Texas Tech INF Jr.

Connor McKay, Kansas OF Sr.

Craig Aikin, Oklahoma OF Jr.

Cody Jones, TCU OF Sr.

Ben Johnson, Texas OF Jr.

Anthony Hermelyn, Oklahoma UTIL Jr.

Connor Wanhanen, TCU DH Fr.

Michael Freeman, Oklahoma State LHP Sr.

Preston Morrison, TCU RHP Sr.

Alex Young, TCU LHP Jr.

Cameron Smith, Texas Tech LHP Sr.

Riley Ferrell, TCU RHP Jr.

Corey Taylor, Texas Tech RHP Sr.

All-Big 12 Second Team

Name, School Position Class

Michael Tinsley, Kansas C So.

Tim Arakawa, Oklahoma State INF Sr.

Keaton Jones, TCU INF Sr.

Tres Barrera, Texas INF So.

Jackson Cramer, WVU INF So.

Taylor Munden, WVU INF Sr.

Corey Hassel, Oklahoma State OF Jr.

Ryan Sluder, Oklahoma State OF So.

Stephen Smith, Texas Tech OF So.

Kyle Davis, WVU UTIL Fr.

Cory Raley, Texas Tech DH Jr.

Ben Krauth, Kansas LHP Jr.

Nate Griep, Kansas State RHP So.

Robert Tasin, Oklahoma RHP Sr.

Parker French, Texas RHP Sr.

Jacob Evans, Oklahoma LHP Jr.

Dominic Moreno, Texas Tech RHP Sr.

Honorable mention

Baylor: Logan Brown, Daniel Castano, Adam Toth, Drew Tolson, Duncan Wendel; Kansas: Blair Beck, Matt McLaughlin, Justin Protacio, Stephen Villines; Kansas State: Max Brown, Corey Fischer, Tyler Moore, Tyler Wolfe; Oklahoma: Jake Elliott, Alec Hansen, Kyle Mendenhall; Oklahoma State: Trey Cobb, Remey Reed, Dustin Williams; TCU: Tyler Alexander, Nolan Brown, Jeremie Fagnan, Derek Odell, Evan Skoug, Dane Steinhagen, Trey Teakell, Mitchell Traver; Texas Tech: Tyler Neslony; WVU: Chad Donato, Justin Fox, Blake Smith, Ross Vance.

All-Freshman Team

Name, School Class

Kameron Esthay, Baylor OF

Matt McLaughlin, Kansas INF

Bryce Ward, Kansas State RHP

Jacob Chappell, Oklahoma State INF

Evan Skoug, TCU C

Connor Wanhanen, TCU DH

Bret Boswell, Texas INF

Michael Cantu, Texas C

Connor Mayes, Texas RHP

Orlando Garcia, Texas Tech INF

Kyle Davis, WVU UTIL

BJ Myers, WVU RHP

]]>
WVU announces non-conference men's basketball schedule http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519210 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519210 Tue, 19 May 2015 15:43:07 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Games against Virginia and Florida highlight the 2015-16 West Virginia men's basketball non-conference schedule, which was released Tuesday afternoon.

The Mountaineers announced 13 non-conference dates, although the opponents for all are not yet known. WVU will play Virginia in New York City on Dec. 8 as part of the Jimmy V Classic, and at Florida on Jan. 30 as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. West Virginia will also participate in the Las Vegas Invitational, and will receive two home games prior to headed to Las Vegas for a four-team event that also includes California, Richmond and San Diego State. WVU will play two of those three teams on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27.

"I think Mountaineer fans by now are used to us playing one of the top schedules in the country and this year is no different," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "We look forward to going back to Las Vegas against quality competition, returning to the Garden for the second year in a row along with road games at Virginia Tech and Florida. Counting the exhibition, we have nine games in the great state of West Virginia for our fans to see before the Big 12 Conference schedule begins in January."

WVU will play two games in Charleston: James Madison on Nov. 16 and Marshall on Dec. 17 as part of the Capital Classic. Both games are at the Charleston Civic Center. While eight of the 13 non-conference dates will take place in the Mountain State, another will be played in nearby Blacksburg, Va., against Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers and Hokies will meet Dec. 30.

Other non-conference games: Nov. 13 against Northern Kentucky, Dec. 5 against Kennesaw State, Dec. 13 against Louisiana Monroe and Dec. 21 against Eastern Kentucky. All four of those games will be at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.

West Virginia will play one exhibition game that will be announced this summer. The Big 12 portion of the schedule will also be announced this summer.

Friday, Nov. 13 - Northern Kentucky in Morgantown, W.Va.

Monday, Nov. 16 - vs. James Madison in Charleston, W.Va.

Friday, Nov. 20 - Las Vegas Invitational in Morgantown, W.Va.

Monday, Nov. 23 - Las Vegas Invitational in Morgantown, W.Va.

Thursday, Nov. 26 - California, Richmond or San Diego State in Las Vegas

Friday, Nov. 27 - California, Richmond or San Diego State in Las Vegas

Saturday, Dec. 5 - Kennesaw State in Morgantown, W.Va.

Tuesday, Dec. 8 - vs. Virginia in New York City

Sunday, Dec. 13 - Louisiana Monroe in Morgantown, W.Va.

Thursday, Dec. 17 - vs. Marshall in Charleston W.Va.

Monday, Dec. 21 - Eastern Kentucky in Morgantown, W.Va.

Wednesday, Dec. 30 - at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

Saturday, Jan. 30 - at Florida in Gainesville, Fla.

]]>
WVU announces signing of 6-foot-8 forward http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150518/DM03/150519255 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150518/DM03/150519255 Mon, 18 May 2015 22:53:57 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins has announced the signing of Lamont West to a national letter of intent for the 2015-16 academic year.

West, a 6-foot-8, 205 pound forward from Cincinnati, Ohio, recently graduated from Miller Grove High in Lithonia, Georgia. He will have four years of eligibility at WVU.

At Miller Grove this past season, he averaged 17.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.6 blocks per game. West shot 59 percent from the field and 73 percent from the free throw line.

West led Miller Grove to a 27-4 overall record and a 14-0 mark in Region 6-AAAAA, falling shy of the Class AAAAA state championship. Playing for coach Sharman White, West had double-doubles with 11 points and 12 rebounds against Druid Hills and 14 points and 10 rebounds against Southwest DeKalb.

West earned a spot on the 2015 DeKalb County Boys' All-Star team. He earned Class AAAAA Georgia All-State Honorable Mention honors.

Before his senior season at Miller Grove High, West attended Withrow High in Cincinnati for three years, the same school as current Mountaineer Devin Williams.

West's mother, Tonya Kirk, was a four-year starter at Purdue from 1993-96 and helped guide the Boilermakers to the Final Four in 1994.

West joins Esa Ahmad, a 6-foot-8 forward from Shaker Heights, Ohio, James "Beetle" Bolden, a 6-foot guard from Covington, Kentucky, and Teyvon Myers, a 6-foot-2 guard from Brooklyn, New York, in the 2015 recruiting class.

]]>
Ka'Raun White enrolls at WVU with immediate opportunity, expectations http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150517/DM03/150519346 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150517/DM03/150519346 Sun, 17 May 2015 21:32:42 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Kevin White is gone from West Virginia University, taken in the first round of last month's NFL draft. A candidate to succeed one of the best receivers in school history arrives Monday to start classes in summer school, and the circumstances make it a bit unfair to expect Ka'Raun White to replace his older brother.

After all, Kevin's rise to riches is almost too dramatic to believe. He was basically unrecruited in high school, didn't play two of his three football seasons at Lackawanna College and wasn't enrolled for one fall semester. Now he's in the early days of a fully guaranteed four-year, $15.6 million contract.

So comparing Kevin to Ka'Raun? No way.

"I think Ka'Raun's story is crazier than Kevin's," said Kyzir White, the youngest of the three brothers. "He didn't play in high school. He wasn't always a star player. He wasn't even playing for a while. And look where he is now."

Ka'Raun White is the only member of WVU's 2015 recruiting class who will enroll in the first wave of summer classes that begin Monday, though the Mountaineers expect most to enroll next month. It wasn't long ago when White wouldn't have entertained this possibility. He was too busy working at McDonald's - two years after graduating from high school.

White made all the sandwiches on the menu. He started at $7.25 an hour and earned a nickel raise during the four-plus years he spent under the golden arches. It was 2012, and Kevin was two grades older and making a splash as a redshirt sophomore at Lackawanna when Ka'Raun decided he wanted to be a college football player, too.

"His journey is the reason I continued to play," Ka'Raun said. "I pretty much gave up on it at one point. But I was determined. I was seeing my brother do it, so I said, 'I can do that, too.' He's the only reason why I gave this a chance."

It sounds so easy, but it was not. Kevin had been part of the Emmaus (Pa.) High School football program for three years and worked his way to all-conference honors as a defensive back and receiver, a 6-foot-2 presence who would have had more major college offers if not for his grades.

Ka'Raun hardly played for Emmaus. He was a safety who was deep on the depth chart. Once he found some playing time, he suffered a lower back injury. His senior season came and went, and it seemed like that was that for a 5-10, 160-pound Big Mac maker.

Time passed and Kevin's stock would soar, but Ka'Raun grew, too. He worked out with Kyzir and some of Kevin's friends. They ran routes and lifted weights and saw Ka'Raun blossom. When Ka'Raun convinced the Lackawanna staff to meet with him at a coaching clinic, the coaches saw a 6-2, 180-pound prospect they'd never imagined before.

"That's not hyperbole," Lackawanna coach Mark Duda said. "I know it sounds far-fetched, but I don't think we saw him three times before we decided to bring him in, and he never looked like that."

Ka'Raun White redshirted his first season and was a raw student who'd never played receiver but was beating the team's best defensive backs again and again in practice before the end of the 2013 season. In the spring, he was clearly a starter. By the end of his redshirt freshman season, White was second-team all-conference and finished 2014 with 42 catches for 522 yards and three touchdowns.

"He went from nowhere to somewhere to awesome fast," Duda said.

Football Bowl Subdivision schools took notice, which Lackawanna's coaches expected. They knew a third year and a second season would generate even more attention, and the Falcons weren't going to complain if they had White a little longer, but the staff also knew White was eager to get a scholarship offer from WVU.

When it arrived in the fall, White accepted and aimed to graduate in two years, which lets him enroll earlier than the other recruits.

"It doesn't appear he has any trepidation about going somewhere to play where maybe the best receiver in school history just left," Duda said.

White played mostly inside receiver last season at Lackawanna and will likely begin outside with the Mountaineers, but receivers coach Lonnie Galloway has only seen White play on highlight tapes and will wait to see him live before deciding anything. White will play, though, because he has three years left to play three seasons and because there's a void the size of 109 receptions, 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"How he's going to frame it in his own head, I can't answer that," Duda said. "I know there are expectations, but what's he supposed to do? Catch 110 balls? That's what he has to do? What if he catches 80? Is that disappointing?

"But he's not concerned with that. He wants to be the best player he can be and help as much as he possibly can. The kid can make plays. He's grossly athletic. It ain't like he can't jump. It ain't like he can't run. He's a fast, physical specimen who came out of nowhere and did it all in 24 months."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

]]>
WVU men's hoops joins Las Vegas Invitational field http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150514/DM03/150519510 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150514/DM03/150519510 Thu, 14 May 2015 23:21:13 -0400 West Virginia University men's basketball

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia University men's basketball team will be one of eight teams to enter the 2015 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, to be held Nov. 26-27 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. Besides the Mountaineers, a Sweet 16 team in the 2015 NCAA tournament, the field includes Richmond, San Diego State, California, Hawaii, Sam Houston State, Bethune-Cookman University and Liberty.

The Aztecs joined WVU in the NCAA tournament this year, the sixth SDSU has earned a berth, and Richmond reached the NIT quarterfinals.

Fox Sports 1 will broadcast two opening-round games on Nov. 26 and the championship and consolation games on Nov. 27. Each team will play four games in the invitational, the first two at on-campus sites and the final two rounds at Orleans Arena.

]]>
WVU to face Florida in Big 12/SEC Challenge http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150514/DM03/150519513 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150514/DM03/150519513 Thu, 14 May 2015 23:19:03 -0400 West Virginia University basketball

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia University men's basketball team will face the University of Florida in this upcoming season's Big 12/SEC Challenge.

It will be the first time that WVU coach Bob Huggins, who guided the Mountaineers to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance, will face the Gators. Florida recently said good-bye to coach Billy Donovan, who became the head coach of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, and introduced former Louisiana Tech coach Mike White as its new head coach.

The Challenge's other matchups, all to be played Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, include Georgia at Baylor, Kentucky at Kansas, Mississippi at Kansas State, Tennessee at TCU, Vanderbilt at Texas, Iowa State at Texas A&M, Oklahoma at LSU, Oklahoma State at Auburn and Texas Tech at Arkansas.

]]>
Chuck McGill: Big 12's decision on title game is right move http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150506/DM03/150509437 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150506/DM03/150509437 Wed, 6 May 2015 23:20:11 -0400 By Chuck McGill CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Big 12's decision to not yet add a conference championship game for football is one rooted in a battle of data points.

This time last week, the league's commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, seemed persuaded by College Football Playoff chairman Jeff Long, who'd presented information on behalf of the committee to the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick at a CFP meeting in Dallas.

Bowlsby appeared convinced the Big 12 - the smallest of the five conferences and the only league without a conference title game in football - was at a disadvantage in the race for one of four playoff spots. The winners of the conference title games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 were in the inaugural playoff. The Big 12 was left out.

"All things equal, 13 data points were better than 12 data points," Bowlsby said Long informed the league commissioners last week.

That had this columnist certain the league would err in this decision and make an ill-advised and collective knee-jerk reaction to a problem that needed more of what Long said was important: data points.

One year is not a trend. Two, three, four, five years - those are data points. All are better than one data point, with all due respect to Long and the committee.

The Big 12, somewhat surprisingly, agreed this week.

The league's 10 athletic directors met for two days of meeting in Phoenix, and it didn't take the first day for Bowlsby to publicly comment that the Big 12 was standing pat. The conference was going to stick with its nine-game, one-division, regular-season champion format.

"I think we all believe that one year is not a long enough trial to draw any conclusions," Bowlsby said Tuesday after the first day of meetings.

Whew.

The discussion about the merits of a title game - the advantages and the disadvantages - came about after the Big 12's top two teams, co-champions TCU and Baylor, were left out of the four-team playoff in December. One-loss Baylor finished No. 5 and one-loss TCU was ranked No. 6.

Ohio State, No. 5 in the penultimate set of CFP rankings, jumped to the fourth and final spot after a 59-0 shellacking of No. 11 Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. TCU plummeted from No. 3 to No. 6 after closing its conference slate with a 42-point win over the league's only winless team, Iowa State.

That made the people in charge wonder if the league can set up a more emphatic ending for its most promising playoff prospect. That, however, only works if the team best positioned for one of the four playoff invites actually wins the 13th game, as Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State did.

First, I reckon that three of those four schools - Alabama, Oregon and Florida State - would've gladly sat out the 13th game rather than risk a loss and drop out of the top four. This has burnt the Big 12 in the past.

The league had 15 football championship games from 1996-2010, which ended after Colorado and Nebraska departed for other conferences and left the league below the NCAA-mandated 12 teams required to hold a title game. In those 15 seasons, five times - 33 percent of the time - a Big 12 team ranked in the top four nationally lost to an underdog in the league's championship game.

It happened in 1996 to No. 3 Nebraska, which lost to unranked Texas. Two years later, No. 3 Kansas State fell to No. 8 Texas A&M. In 2001, No. 3 Texas was the victim, losing to No. 9 Colorado. In 2003, top-ranked Oklahoma lost by four touchdowns to No. 15 Kansas State, but still managed to receive an invite to the BCS national championship game (where the Sooners lost again).

It happened again in 2007, on a December weekend familiar to WVU football fans. Missouri entered that week No. 1, while WVU was No. 2. The Mountaineers lost their regular-season finale against Pitt to fall out of national title contention, while the Tigers lost the Big 12 title game to Oklahoma and dropped to No. 7 in the polls.

Second, the league's schedule - all Big 12 teams play each other during the regular season - guarantees a rematch in the title game. Numerous pitfalls of a 13th game exist because of this.

What if, say, Baylor navigates the regular-season unscathed and enters the Big 12 title game at 12-0 overall and 9-0 in league play? What if the second-place team is, say, a two- or three-loss TCU team that Baylor has already defeated soundly on the road?

Baylor, obviously, would be in the driver's seat for one of the four playoff spots, if not the top overall seed. A loss in a 13th game, however, could drop the Bears out of the playoff.

"We may find ourselves in better shape than some other conferences as a result of our model rather than in spite of our model," Bowlsby conceded Tuesday.

"One year doesn't make a trend," he added. "Let's see how this goes forward."

The coaches, to their credit, also recognized the downside of a championship game - for at least as long as the league is going to stick with 10 teams.

"You could have a 9-0 team playing a 6-3 team," Baylor coach Art Briles said Tuesday. "It's not always going to be 8-1 versus 8-1."

Agreed, and in some years, 13 won't always be greater than 12.

Long may want more data points so he and his committee can make the best decision, but he'll have to excuse the Big 12 for using the same logic.

]]>
Bears agree to deal with Kevin White http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150506/DM03/150509453 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150506/DM03/150509453 Wed, 6 May 2015 21:14:05 -0400

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAKE FOREST, Ill. - The Chicago Bears have agreed to a four-year contract with West Virginia receiver Kevin White, the seventh overall pick in the draft.

The Bears entered the draft with big needs on defense coming off a 5-11 season but took a play-making receiver to replace the traded Brandon Marshall with their top pick. For White, it was the next step on a meteoric rise from Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to West Virginia and a founding franchise in the NFL.

White's contract includes a fifth-year option. The Bears also announced Wednesday a four-year deal with second-rounder Eddie Goldman, a defensive lineman from Florida State.

]]>
Mike Casazza: NFL picks, signings show WVU is place to develop http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150505/DM03/150509542 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150505/DM03/150509542 Tue, 5 May 2015 23:21:00 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Never mind the fact Quinton Spain is 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds and that everything he does is big. What the former West Virginia offensive lineman did Saturday was especially significant, and not merely because he signed an undrafted rookie free agent contract that puts his future in his 9 3/4-inch hands.

Spain was the last remnant of WVU's 2010 recruiting class, the one hailed at the time as the greatest in the program's history. Rivals.com wrote on Feb. 3, 2010, the day it deemed WVU's class to be the best in the Big East and No. 19 in the country, that there was "no question this was a special class with lots of skill position athletes for the Mountaineers."

Well, of the 19 players who signed that day, Spain is the second to make it to the NFL. Neither played a skill position. Spain's the only one of 18 high school players to get a foot in the door, and the only player from that class to be drafted was Bruce Irvin, a junior college transfer who was a 2012 draft pick and the program's ninth first-round pick.

They're as different as can be, but they were a part of that 2010 class. Scout.com and 247Sports.com ranked WVU No. 29. The head coach, Bill Stewart, called signing day "a good day for recruiting here at West Virginia University. We feel like we have a special class of not just athletes, but neat, fine young men."

He had a point. Spain was one of three signees who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He had two teammates on the East roster who'd become teammates at WVU. Receiver Ivan McCartney was the only player rated higher than Spain, and quarterback Barry Brunetti was a Parade Magazine All-American and a coup for a team in need of a quarterback.

There was also defensive back Latwan Anderson, who Rivals.com saw as a five-star prospect rated No. 15 overall. He committed to WVU during the game and became a case study for how unpredictable and dangerous recruiting and projecting can be. Still, Stewart was right to say that group of all-America players was "pretty well ahead of the curve right now."

But later? McCartney was inconsistent. His freshman season was wasted and his sophomore season was promising, but he totaled 21 catches for 272 yards his final two seasons and toyed with the idea of transferring at least once.

Brunetti threw nine passes as the backup in 2010 before transferring to Ole Miss. He cited family needs to gain immediate eligibility, and he threw 112 passes with the Rebels. Anderson accepted a track scholarship at Miami and spent a couple months there before going to two junior colleges and signing in February at Notre Dame College, a Division II school in Ohio.

Irvin was a flash and a force on defense and Spain was an anchor on the offensive line. Apart from them, linebacker Wes Tonkery might have had the best college career. Maybe linebacker Doug Rigg or cornerback Ishmael Banks?

Twelve players signed and either didn't make it or didn't last. Not coincidentally, that was the year Stewart famously said WVU needed "16 to 18 scholarships each year and two to three scholarships at each position max." The risky quality-over-quantity plan set successor Dana Holgorsen back a few years as he tried to load and reload the roster.

Doing so required recruiting junior college players and college transfers, which is where this story takes a turn. Part of the healing process was the 2012-14 recruiting classes, the first three Holgorsen had a full year to work on with his staff. WVU signed 16 junior college players and two one-year college transfers those years.

Junior college players Kevin White (Chicago Bears), Mark Glowinski (Seattle Seahawks) and Mario Alford (Cincinnati Bengals) and Shaq Riddick (Arizona Cardinals), a 2014 transfer from Gardner-Webb, were drafted last weekend. Junior college transfer Dreamius Smith (San Diego Chargers) signed an undrafted rookie contract.

The Mountaineers happen to believe linebacker Brandon Golson and defensive end Dontrill Hyman, both junior college transfers, might have joined them if not for senior seasons undone by injuries. Six other junior college players not only remain in the program, but are or should be in WVU's two-deep depth chart next season.

It's a major development for the Mountaineers, who will continue to bless themselves with high school talent from south Florida, but who must also compete with Big 12 opponents and fill roster needs by nabbing junior college players and the occasional one-year transfer (for as long as that's allowed). A lot of that is based on a player trusting a program, and WVU is proving itself.

Riddick, who was an FCS all-American, gambled on WVU and was rewarded. The Mountaineers took calculated chances on their junior college haul and, with rare exceptions (Ronald Carswell, d'Vante Henry, Keishawn Richardson), were redeemed.

The Mountaineers have a system in place, one that can prove a talent like White, and perhaps soon Skyler Howard. But it's also one that prepares players like Glowinski, who redshirted his first year with WVU, and possibly Sylvester Townes, an offensive tackle who redshirted last season.

Recruiting is just like coaching and playing, and each is driven by results. In the end, these stories aren't written by star systems, but by star players who take to coaching and to development. WVU may have had its best class in 2010, but it has been better about producing pro prospects since then.

]]>
WVU baseball falls at Virginia Tech http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150505/DM03/150509543 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150505/DM03/150509543 Tue, 5 May 2015 23:19:57 -0400 Mountaineers fall to 24-23 after sixth straight loss

FROM STAFF REPORTS

BLACKSBURG. Va. - A four-run second inning began an offensive barrage for the Virginia Tech baseball team, which pummeled West Virginia University, 13-3, on Tuesday.

It was the Mountaineers' (24-23) sixth straight loss and seventh in the last eight games. Left fielder Caleb Potter provided WVU's offensive highlight with a solo home run. The Hokies, on the other hand, got two doubles from Joe Freiday Jr., two triples from Saige Jenco and a double and home run from Erik Payne. Jeff Hardy (2-1) took the loss after just a two-inning start, giving up four runs, three earned on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Jon Woodcock earned the win for Virginia Tech, allowing two runs, one earned, on seven hits with three strikeouts and three walks.

West Virginia returns to the diamond Friday to start a three-game series at Oklahoma State. WVU head coach Randy Mazey will miss that game, serving the second of his two-game suspension following his ejection Sunday against Texas Christian. He served the first game Tuesday.

]]>
Big 12's Bowlsby backs off football title game talk http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150505/ARTICLE/150509546 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150505/ARTICLE/150509546 Tue, 5 May 2015 23:17:43 -0400

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHOENIX - The Big 12 has tapped the brakes on the conference championship game talk.

Last week, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby strongly suggested the league would move toward bringing back its football championship to improve its chances of putting a team in the College Football Playoff.

After meeting with coaches and athletic directors Tuesday, Bowlsby said he does not sense the conference is headed toward a title game.

"I think we all believe that one year is not a long enough trial to draw any conclusions," Bowlsby said.

The Big 12 is the only Big Five conference without a title game.

TCU was ahead of Ohio State in the next-to-last rankings by the playoff selection committee, with Baylor just behind the Buckeyes. But the two Big 12 teams were finishing their regular seasons while Ohio State routed Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes moved into No. 4 in the final committee rankings, grabbing the final spot in the four-team field and keeping the Big 12 co-champions out of college football's first playoff.

Bowlsby met with selection committee chairman Jeff Long in North Texas last week and said he came away believing the Big 12 was at a disadvantage having 12 data points instead of 13, like the other power conferences.

On Tuesday he said: "We may find ourselves in better shape than some other conferences as a result of our model rather than in spite of our model."

Baylor's Art Briles, speaking just before coaches met with the commissioner, said he was "very curious to sit back and listen and see what everybody that while he would listen" but liked the league setup as it is.

"We're judging everything on what we all just went through kind of wide-eyed and wondering what was going to happen," he said. "Now we've got a pretty good idea. But I still think it was a little different last year, that no upsets happened the last week of the season. That's pretty uncommon."

If there was a title game, it would always be a rematch because the teams all face each other in the regular season.

Much talk has centered on the league's No. 1 team playing the No. 2 in the title game.

"You could have a 9-0 team playing a 6-3 team. That could happen" Briles said. "It's not always going to be 8-1 versus 8-1."

Sometimes, not having a title game could be an advantage, he said.

"I think somebody runs the table in our league, they're in," Briles said. "I don't think there's any question because you're going to beat a couple of top 10 teams, probably three or four in the top 20. That's a pretty good resume."

]]>
WVU football player arrested on burglary charge http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150504/DM03/150509698 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150504/DM03/150509698 Mon, 4 May 2015 18:31:21 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - A West Virginia University offensive lineman was arrested Sunday on a felony burglary charge.

According to the North Central Regional Jail, Russell Haughton-James was brought to the facility at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Haughton-James, 22, is from Plantation, Fla. WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen released short statement on the arrest.

"I have been made aware of the situation," he said. "I am gathering the facts at this time and will to continue to monitor. I have no further comment at this time"

A fifth-year senior, Haughton-James played 12 games last season as a reserve, seeing action as an extra lineman in power formations and on special teams. He started the Mountaineers' spring game.

]]>
WVU baseball coach Mazey suspended 2 games http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150504/DM03/150509699 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150504/DM03/150509699 Mon, 4 May 2015 18:30:48 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University head baseball coach, Randy Mazey has been suspended for two games per NCAA Baseball Playing Rule 2-26, A.R. 7 (prolonged arguing or unsportsmanlike conduct following an ejection), following his ejection after the third inning of Sunday's game against TCU.

Mazey will miss WVU's game at Virginia Tech on Tuesday, May 5, and the series opener at Oklahoma State on Friday, May 8. Assistant coach Derek Matlock will serve as WVU's acting head coach in Mazey's absence.

"I would like to apologize to our administration, players and fans for my actions on Sunday afternoon in the TCU game," Mazey said. "We value good sportsmanship, but my emotions got the best of me when I disagreed with the ruling on the field. I look forward to being back with my team on Saturday and I will work hard to make sure that this is not an issue in the future."

West Virginia will have no further comment regarding the suspension.

]]>
WVU's Glowinski gets 'best birthday present' with NFL draft call http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150503/DM03/150509787 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150503/DM03/150509787 Sun, 3 May 2015 21:39:46 -0400 By Derek Redd CHARLESTON, W.Va. - As far as birthday presents go, it's no surprise where being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks ranks on West Virginia University offensive lineman Mark Glowinski's list.

"That's the best birthday present you can ask for," he said.

That gift came a day early for Glowinski, who turned 23 on Sunday. The Seahawks took him in the fourth round with the 134th overall pick Saturday, the final day of the NFL draft. The lineman was one of four players from West Virginia's Football Bowl Subdivision schools taken Saturday. WVU defensive end Shaq Riddick was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round with the 158th overall pick. The Cincinnati Bengals took WVU receiver Mario Alford in the seventh round with the 238th overall pick, and the New England Patriots took Marshall corner Darryl Roberts in the seventh round with the 247th overall pick.

Those four join WVU receiver Kevin White, a first-rounder the Chicago Bears took with the seventh overall pick.

Glowinski started all 25 games he played for WVU after two seasons at Lackawanna College, the same junior college that produced White. He was an all-Big 12 pick last season. He'll join the defending NFC champions, who re-signed running back Marshawn Lynch to a three-year, $31-million deal in March.

Blocking for a back the caliber of Lynch is right up Glowinski's alley.

"Man, it's everything you can ask for," he said, "especially since I've always been with teams in a running scheme up to this last season. In high school, we probably ran for about 90 percent of the time. In Lackawanna, we ran a lot. To have a back that great and a hard-nosed guy like that, that's somebody I want to block for."

Riddick made his one season with the Mountaineers count. He was a graduate transfer from Gardner-Webb University and wanted to prove himself in jumping from the Football Championship Subdivision to power five football.

In that single season, Riddick led WVU with seven sacks and recorded 11 tackles for a loss. Big 12 coaches named him newcomer of the year, and he also was named conference defensive newcomer of the year.

The Cardinals needed pass rushing help, and Riddick will try to provide that help for the team he wanted to join more than any other.

"I loved everything about it," he said. "I loved the scheme, I loved the coaches, I loved the nutrition program they have, the weight room, the strength coaches, the philosophy that they hold, the mentality of the coaches. It seemed like a perfect fit for me."

Alford wants to help the Bengals in more than one category. Not only did the slot receiver lead WVU and tie for first in the Big 12 with 11 touchdown catches, he also became the fourth player in program history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in one season. He was an FWAA first-team all-American kick returner.

His speed may be his calling card - Alford's NFL scouting combine 40-yard dash time of 4.43 seconds paled in comparison to the 4.32-second and 4.27-second runs at WVU's pro day - but he said he can provide more than just fast feet.

"I'm also a great football player, too, not just because I have speed," he said. "I've got great hands and my ball skills are great. I'm a legit football player."

Roberts' selection marked the fifth straight season that a Thundering Herd player was picked in the NFL draft. That's the longest streak since at least one Herd player was taken from 2000-05. He'll join receiver Aaron Dobson on the Patriots. New England picked Dobson in the second round of the 2013 draft.

Roberts was named to the 2014 all-Conference USA first team after breaking up 17 passes and intercepting another. He also finished fifth on the team in tackles with 75 total, adding 3.5 tackles for a loss. Roberts rebounded from snubs from college all-star games and the combine to gain plenty of buzz after running a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at his pro day.

"All you can ask for is a chance and a shot to just go do what you love to do," Roberts told reporters after he was drafted. "I'm just honored that they even took a chance on me to come to New England and play."

Several WVU and Marshall players signed rookie free agent contracts following the draft. Marshall's group included tight end Eric Frohnapfel (San Diego Chargers), center Chris Jasperse (Cincinnati Bengals), linebacker Neville Hewitt (Miami Dolphins) and defensive lineman James Rouse (Houston Texans). For WVU, offensive lineman Quinton Spain (Tennessee Titans) and running back Dreamius Smith (San Diego Chargers) both signed free agent deals.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

]]>
Chuck McGill: Observations, trends from the NFL draft http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150503/DM03/150509789 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150503/DM03/150509789 Sun, 3 May 2015 21:36:56 -0400 By Chuck McGill CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In the hours before the NFL draft commenced last Thursday, three Daily Mail sportswriters interviewed local football folks at Recovery Sports Grill in downtown Charleston.

The first of seven subjects was Doc Holliday, the head football coach at Marshall who has been in the college coaching profession since the late 1970s. He has seen plenty in those decades, and he has witnessed about everything associated with the NFL draft.

"You talk about the mistakes that are made in the draft," Holliday said, "those NFL guys sure make a lot of 'em."

Holliday then unfolded a few pieces of paper. He'd taken the time to jot down the names of the snubbed and unwanted. He read them one by one, names a common NFL fan would know, names that weren't ever called on draft day.

The final guest of the two-hour sports talk event was former South Charleston and Marshall standout Carl Lee, who played 11 seasons in the NFL and was selected for three Pro Bowls. He, like the Herd's Darryl Roberts, was a seventh round draft choice. It shouldn't be a surprise if, years from now, Roberts is still on an NFL roster and many of the 28 cornerbacks selected ahead of him are not.

The same goes for WVU receiver Mario Alford, also a seventh round draft pick. Alford led the Mountaineers in receiving touchdowns, more than first-round pick Kevin White, but was the 32nd of 33 receivers selected among the 258 draft picks.

It'll be years before those players, and the other late picks and undrafted free agents, prove NFL decision-makers right or wrong.

Here are a few more observations of the draft, which concluded Saturday night:

n The Big 12 Conference was a distance fifth among the power five conferences. The league had 25 players selected in seven rounds, trailing the Southeastern Conference (54), Atlantic Coast Conference (47), Pac-12 (39) and Big Ten (35). Even if the Big 12 added the draft picks from the American Athletic Conference (11), Mountain West (10) and Conference USA (six), the league still would've failed to match the mighty SEC.

n The Mountaineers had four selections: White, offensive lineman Mark Glowinski, defensive end Shaquille Riddick and Alford. That might not seem like a big haul, but it is a rarity in Morgantown. Since the NFL draft cut the number of rounds to seven in 1994, WVU has had four or more draft picks five times: 1996, 1999, 2000, 2011 and this year. The 2011 group, however, did not feature a first-round pick (all fourth round or later). The 2000 class was headlined by tight end Anthony Becht, a first-round pick of the New York Jets.

n If Marshall's Roberts plays a down in the NFL, he'll be the answer to a Holliday trivia question. Holliday, of course, has had his share of draft picks throughout a long career as an assistant and head coach. But his first three draft picks at Marshall - Lee Smith, Mario Harvey and Vinny Curry - were inherited players. Garrett Scott, selected last season, had his NFL career cut short before it began.

Roberts is a Holliday recruit, a 2-star prospect out of Lakeland, Fla., and would be the first Holliday-signed player to play an NFL down since he became a head coach.

n And, finally, watch out for the little guys. There were 33 receivers taken in the three-day draft, eight of whom are shorter than 6-feet tall. This is the way of the NFL.

Last year, six of the top 10 receivers in terms of receptions were 5-foot-11 or shorter. It was the same percentage for receiving yards, too, but if one delves deeper, nine of the top 16 receivers last season were 5-11 or shorter.

This is how the game is evolving.

In 1995, there were four players drafted that were 5-11 or shorter. Only two of the top 10 receivers in catches were that short, and one was the versatile Eric Metcalf. Ten years later, in 2005, again there were four draft picks 5-11 or shorter while four of the top 10 in receptions - Steve Smith, Derrick Mason, Santana Moss and Joey Galloway - were that small.

This bodes well in the coming years for a local product like Ryan Switzer, a two-time Kennedy Award winner and All-American at the University of North Carolina. The UNC athletics website lists Switzer at 5-10 and 185 pounds.

One of Switzer's workout partners, Duke's Jamison Crowder, was a fourth-round pick by the Washington Redskins. He is 5-8 and 185 pounds, and like Switzer contributed to an ACC program at receiver and in the return game.

Kansas State's Tyler Lockett, who torched the Mountaineers for 27 catches, 501 yards and five touchdowns in three Big 12 meetings, was a third-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks. He is 5-10 and 182 pounds.

There were another eight players listed at 6-0 who were drafted, meaning nearly half - 16 of 33 - of all receivers drafted this year aren't even 6-1, much less in the mold of a receiver like WVU's White.

The little guys might not be the first ones off the board on draft day, but the way the league is headed, they're the ones on top of the receiving leaderboards at the end of each season.

]]>