WVU Exposure Helps Coaches Recruit in Texas - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Exposure Helps Coaches Recruit in Texas

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MORGANTOWN -

Keith Patterson had only just familiarized himself with his new home in Morgantown when he was shipped halfway across the country to try convincing some recruits that they should join him in the hills of West Virginia.

The WVU co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach hit the road as soon as spring practice concluded to evaluate and meet the Texas talent he hopes to lure to the Mountaineers for the 2013 season and beyond and thus far, the reception has been a warm one.

"[I have] been in Dallas for the last month and it's been going really good," Patterson said earlier this week while in Shepherdstown. "The people and the parents there, the reception and the excitement of West Virginia coming to the Big 12 is really generating a lot of interest in the Midwest and we're looking forward to it."

Patterson came to WVU after serving the 2011 season as Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator and interim head coach, so his knowledge of the program began as an outsider. It would make sense if he had to treat the recruits he is speaking with in a similar fashion, teaching them about a team that plays over 1,000 miles away.

Instead, he is finding that the Mountaineer name is quite well known in many of the high school circles, especially with the young kids who were afforded the opportunity to watch the team when a certain former WVU quarterback was leading the way.

"I was talking to a recruit the other night on the phone when I told him that we were going to offer him, he said, ‘Coach, if you do, then WVU will be my No. 1 choice.' And I said why would that be when you're familiar with the schools here in the Big 12 and in the region and he just said, ‘Coach, I've been watching West Virginia since Pat White,'" says Patterson.

When a player, or a program, have success, people notice. The excitement surrounding WVU football in the four years that Pat While led the troops caught the attention of young athletes across the country, and the Mountaineers became a more attractive offer.

Patterson believes the primetime showcasing of WVU's program through weeknight, nationally televised games has something to do with its image outside of its own fan base.

Since the 2005 season, West Virginia has played midweek games 24 times with no less than three appearances in each schedule.

That exposure alone can help, but having success when all those eyes are watching is key. Of those 24 games, the Mountaineers won 16.

The most recent time in which the nation's eyes were on WVU, it performed admirably.

"We're feeding off a lot of momentum from the Orange Bowl, but if you look over the last few years, we've won three BCS bowl games in pretty dominant fashion at times," says Patterson. "That has been really good for the university and the exposure heading into the Big 12."

At this point, the Mountaineers have reeled in four commitments for the 2013 season. It may not seem like a large number, ranking fifth in the Big 12 in terms of number of pledges for the coming recruiting class.

Patterson, once a high school coach in Texas, most recently at Allen High, believes the class is shaping up much the way he would hope at this point with much of the work still ahead of the WVU staff.

"There's a big difference between a young man's junior year and his senior year," says Patterson. "Sometimes you don't want to read so much into that. If you're going to recruit a kid who has a chip on his shoulder, maybe he's trying to prove people wrong. Some kids go to college and maybe they're a four-star, five-star recruit or they were an All-American in high school and they never even play in college."

West Virginia proved what recruiting a kid with a chip on his shoulder could do when the Mountaineers reeled in last season's starting running back, Dustin Garrison. This year, the coaches hope freshman receiver Jordan Thompson provides a similar boost.

In the meantime, they continue to look for that player to do the same in 2013.

"I know we're doing a nice job of evaluating and recruiting guys into our systems offensively and defensively and there's a lot of good football players between Houston and Dallas and Florida and all the way up to Jersey and in this region of the United States," says Patterson.

Three of WVU's four commitments have come from athletes in the state of Pennsylvania. A year ago, not a single player from the neighbor to the north committed to West Virginia.

As Patterson continues his tour of the Dallas and Houston areas, he now has even more ammunition to use when citing reasons why Morgantown would make a good fit for the Texans he is recruiting.

"When they come to college to play Division-I football, the one thing they want to do is test their skill against the very best," he says. "When you look at it right now, you've got Texas and Oklahoma, now we get to start off the 2014 season with Alabama, basically what that sends to young men that you're actually recruiting is look, we're a big-time program. We've played LSU the past couple of years and that's who kids want to showcase their skills against, the very best."

Patterson is hopeful that with the work he and his fellow assistants are putting in this month, combined with accomplishments in the fall, the Mountaineers can be seen as one of those very best in the near future.

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