Prep Coach Discusses Hodari Christian's Commitment to WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Prep Coach Discusses Hodari Christian's Commitment to WVU


When Hodari Christian committed to the West Virginia football team Friday, his high school coach knew the Mountaineers staff would be thrilled with the pickup.

Jim Ward was certain of that because he knows firsthand what it is like to have Christian on his team.

"In my coaching career, 15 years, he could be top 3," says the McKeesport (Pa.) coach. "That's a lot of players in terms of how he pushes himself in the weight room and how driven and focused and goal-oriented he is."

WVU associate head coach Steve Dunlap may not have seen all those things when he began scouting Christian leading into his junior season at McKeesport. He may have only seen the results of that hard work on the field, but that was enough for Dunlap to know he wanted the linebacker in Morgantown.

So Dunlap extended an offer to Christian and in turn, Christian made a number of visits to campus, the most recent being a trip to check out one of WVU's spring scrimmages.

"He was very impressed," says Ward. "He wants to study exercise physiology and he thought that he had a chance to study at West Virginia with all the positive remarks he heard about that program.

"Overall, he likes the area. It's close to home, but not too close to home. Obviously their recent success has been appealing to kids and it's an opportunity to possibly play early."

A major reason Ward feels that his Christian could contribute early is because his star linebacker is a "Star linebacker" in West Virginia's new defensive scheme.

"What they need in the position that they want him in kind of fits him to a T," says Ward. "There's not a lot of numbers in the program at that position. There aren't too many players who have that specific skill set."

Dunlap coaches the star linebackers for the Mountaineers, so he knows specifically what sort of athlete he is looking for to replace a graduating Terence Garvin after the 2012 season.

Christian fits the mold because at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, his versatility allows him to line up and play the run just as well as he could defend in space when asked to cover a route-runner. With his frame, though, Ward believes he may ultimately wind up playing a different role for West Virginia.

"I do think he's going to grow into about a 230-pounder and I do believe he'll move to the inside," says Ward. "I think he is a very valuable commodity because most kids can do some things very well, but Hodari does a lot of different things that add to his value."

Ward says the junior linebacker runs a low 4.5 forty, but his burst in space is where his true speed is shown.

Aside from all the positives Ward can say about his student, he believes his character and work ethic are the best attributes he is bringing to WVU with his commitment.
"You're getting a great person. You're not going to hear him speak a lot. He's very, very quiet, but he's very driven and goal-oriented," says Ward. "In terms of work ethic, you're not going to find kids who work as hard as he does. It's really about two things in his life: academics and what makes him better as a football player."

Those traits were big factors when Dunlap began recruiting Christian and a major part of why the Mountaineers are happy to have their third commitment for the 2013 class in the McKeesport linebacker.

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