Spring Evaluation Period Key for WVU Recruiting - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Spring Evaluation Period Key for WVU Recruiting

Daron Roberts hits the road to find WVU's future Daron Roberts hits the road to find WVU's future

You may not find many Mountaineer assistant coaches strolling through the halls of the football offices this time of year.

When the spring practice period wrapped up for West Virginia, many of the coaches stepped away from the scheming and developmental side of their job and put their recruiting hats on full time.

For cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts, it meant a trip to the nearby Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area to work on building relationships in a region he was not overly familiar with prior to taking on the responsibility with the Mountaineers.

A month on the road, in various hotels and at a new high school each day, Roberts looks for the future of the football program. He and every other coach in America realize just how important this time of year can be for pinpointing the talent and pushing it toward your team.

"After the signing period, every coach in the country has to stay on campus and work on film and you couldn't have any contact with players unless they called you," says Roberts, named the 2011 co-Recruiter of the Year by Scout. "The spring evaluation period is a chance to get in schools, talk to coaches, talk to counselors and get a chance to look at kids for the upcoming class."

Right now, that upcoming class consists of just two players – offensive lineman Marcell Lazard and running back DeShawn Coleman. Those two each committed to the Mountaineers following the team's spring game, but no others have followed suit in the days and weeks since.

Despite their unwillingness to make a commitment just yet, many talented prep players have expressed interest in WVU. One factor that continues to be brought up for why the Mountaineers appear to be an attractive option is because they offer the athlete a chance to get on the field early.

Few coaches are naïve enough to tell a player he will see the field as a freshman, simply because there is very rarely an instance when something like that can truly be promised. What West Virginia's staff is able to honestly tell its prospects, though, is that if they come in and win the job, their year in school will not count against them.

"Some recruits want to hear that they'll come in here and start – I will never say that to a recruit," says Roberts. "I don't care if it's the top guy in the country or a two-star or one-star. I always say to guys that if we're recruiting you, especially if we extend you an offer, that means we're going to give you a chance to play early."

Roberts would not have to follow that up with something like, "I promise," because he could simply turn on film of WVU from last season for the proof.

Three true freshmen – Dustin Garrison, Andrew Buie and Vernard Roberts – manned the starting running back role throughout the season.

When starting safety Terence Garvin missed action due to injury, a true freshman, Shaq Petteway, was one of the players to step up and make an impact in his absence.

Roberts says being able to point to a television or computer screen and show the recruit what sort of opportunity he can have is better than any lip service he could spew out on the phone or on a visit.

Two players this spring seem to have emerged as the early favorites to become this fall's impact freshmen, Karl Joseph and Jordan Thompson. For Thompson, the small, speedy Texas receiver, all he could hope for is the opportunity, which he was told he would have at West Virginia.

"They said if I kept working hard, good things will happen, and they have happened," says Thompson. "They also said they know what I can do because they've seen it on film, but I just have to prove it on the field and everything has fallen into place."

What a coach says and what a player says can often stand out to recruits in different ways. Senior offensive lineman Joe Madsen remembers his own recruiting visit to Morgantown and how he hung on every word guys like former Mountaineers Ryan Stanchek, Greg Isdaner and Mike Dent said to him.

When he began hosting prospects, he would share with them all the reasons why he believed they would like it at West Virginia, from the Nike wardrobe they would acquire to the chicken cordon bleu dinner before games.

Those are precisely the sort of things head coach Dana Holgorsen wants his recruits to hear.

"We encourage these recruits to come and see what we have to offer and be around our players as much as they possibly can to feel what I believe in, which is these guys want to be here, and they want to work hard. They enjoy each other, the atmosphere, the environment and they enjoy being together and playing football," says Holgorsen.

Still, the initial point of contact for many of the high school athletes is their recruiting coach, and the relationship must be strong if they are to give a second thought to joining that coach's program.

It is a part of the job that can ultimately become the most rewarding as bonds are formed off the field in addition to what both sides hope is a mutually beneficial relationship on it.

"That's probably one of the better parts of my job is being able to talk to young student-athletes," says Roberts. "Obviously, my primary focus is to get them to come to West Virginia, but that process also involves learning about their family and learning about their love life and their academic life, because in reality, we're really asking for someone to join our family for four more years and that's a really big commitment on both our part and the recruit's part.

"So I do my best to try to find out is this a person who would fit into our family and that process has been very rewarding."

That process has Roberts and the other assistants on the road for much of the remaining month, scouring high school fields and dropping in for a quick hello or a long evaluation period.

The future of the WVU football program depends on it.

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