Dana Holgorsen prefers to recruit quarterbacks who are coaches’ sons.
The West Virginia coach helped coaches' sons Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell and Case Keenum excel at Texas Tech and Houston, affirming his belief that coaches’ sons have a leg up on the competition when it comes to developing into successful quarterbacks.
Yet the search for those quarterback recruits has become a little more difficult for the Holgorsen since his move into the Eastern time zone.
“It’s a little tricker on the East Coast,” Holgorsen said. “I was spoiled for 13 years in the state of Texas, state of Oklahoma. It’s easier to locate those guys, the likes of Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell, Case Keenum, J.W. Walsh. You’re running across those guys quite a bit. In the East Coast, the coaching fraternity is not quite as prevalent as Texas or Oklahoma. It’s a little tougher.”
The move away from Texas and the Big 12 region has made finding quarterbacks more difficult because young passers get more opportunities to develop in Holgorsen’s former stomping grounds. Better weather, more chances to participate in 7-on-7 competitions and the coaching in the area makes Texas a fertile breeding ground for quarterbacks.
Holgorsen prefers coaches’ sons mainly because they are immersed in football from a young age. Ultimately, the love of the game is an important trait because the commitment required to be a successful quarterback is not for the light of heart. Physical ability is key as well.
Thus, Holgorsen takes things on a case-by-case basis.
“It’s tricky because each kid is different,” Holgorsen said. “You may get a guy who really understands the game based on being around it his whole life compared to a guy that maybe has physical qualities that are off the charts. Both of them can be successful."
The Mountaineers’ head coach searches for a balance between a strong competitiveness and mental approach and the physical skills to get it done.
“If you lack some of the physical skill, you better make up for it with the mental component and the competitiveness and the will to make you great,” Holgorsen said. “The higher the percentage your skill is, the lower percent your mental makeup can be.”
The Mountaineers added two quarterbacks to the program this spring with Skyler Howard joining William Crest as Class of 2014 quarterback signees. They will join Clint Trickett (another son of a coach) and Paul Millard in the battle to start behind center for WVU this fall.
Howard is a Fort Worth, Texas, native who spent last season as the starting quarterback at Riverside City College in Riverside, Calif. Holgorsen believes he has all the traits to be successful.
Crest, from Baltimore, is a superb talent who doesn’t have the normal background of a Holgorsen protégé, but brings competitiveness and physical traits that could help him insert himself into the quarterback derby this summer.
“He’s a student of the game, but didn’t grow up around it like those Texas kids,” Holgorsen said of Crest. “He’s more of a Geno Smith-type who loves the game and loves to play the game.”