WVU rolls with the changes
New league? No worries as Mountaineers view changes as new opportunities
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Change has been constant in Morgantown.
Over the last year, West Virginia got a new coach (Dana Holgorsen), a new conference (the Big 12 after spending 17 years in the Big East), and just when things seemed to be calming down, Holgorsen had to replace three defensive coaches who left to join Arizona's staff under former WVU coach Rich Rodriquez.
Change is never good in recruiting, but so far, the Mountaineers haven't been affected all that much. The Mountaineers will still heavily rely on Florida, but will also view Texas as a more fertile recruiting ground since they'll be playing in the Lone Star State more often.
West Virginia's 2013 Class
It's still way early and with only four commits so far, the Mountaineers are working hard to add to their class.
• WVU's commit list
Patterson, however, doesn't think he can just swoop in and grab every top prospect in Dallas. The University of Texas is more likely to do that. Instead, Patterson is hoping to land some gem prospects while also identifying a few diamonds in the rough. Patterson knows that method; he was forced to do the same when he coached at Tulsa.
"We would go out and look really hard at multi-sport athletes, looking at kids who are playing running back or quarterback who are really, really good players but are not quite Division I running backs or quarterback and you project them into linebackers or other positions," Patterson said. "That's what I like. Anyone can go out and identify who a four- or five-star recruit is."
Patterson spent his time recruiting Pennsylvania and Ohio the past two seasons when he coached at Pittsburgh. He said making the transition back to a new area shouldn't be a challenge since he can relate to high school coaches.
"I was a high school coach for 17 years," he said. "My father was a hall of fame high school coach so I think that gives you a common ground. I feel comfortable recruiting anywhere honestly. You treat coaches with respect and I think it immediately breaks down any wall. If you have a good relationship, it doesn't mean he's going to steer his player there but he's not going to hurt you.
"You can say what you want to say but kids sign with coaches. If they have a great relationship and they get along with a certain coach, I think that plays heavily in where a kid goes to school."
While Patterson and other WVU coaches will keep an eye on Texas, two of the newly hired coaches will handle Florida, where the Mountaineers have secured 20 players currently on their roster.
Defensive line coach Erik Slaughter plans to charge into Florida not worried about the big three: Florida, Florida State and Miami.
"My personality is I'm going to battle for whoever," Slaughter said. "Why should we take a backseat to anybody? So we'll go in there and battle. We feel like we are one of the big guys. If we lost a kid then at least we're in the battle.
"You can tell if a kid is interested or not. As long as they're corresponding with you, I'm going to stay in the fight and I'm not going to back down from anybody. That's our mindset as a staff. I know it is."
Slaughter will focus on the west side of the Sunshine State, while associate head coach Joe DeForest will handle the east side.
"I just think the kids in Florida are so transient, they'll go anywhere,' DeForest said. "Florida, Florida State and Miami can only get so many of them. I feel like there's so many good players there that we can go down there and get some of them. Look at our quarterback and our receiver, [Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey, respectively]. They've given us a good name down in Florida."
West Virginia certainly made a big impression when it was down in South Florida in January. The coaches believe that the 70-33 hammering of Clemson in the Orange Bowl still causes reverberations.
"Especially down in Florida," DeForest said. "When I went down there, the welcoming was unbelievable because [the players and coaches] were down there for a week and they play in the Orange Bowl, then they did what they did, 70-33. If you didn't know about West Virginia, you do now."
Yet knowing about West Virginia and truly knowing the program is something different entirely. The trio of new coaches know they have to get prospects on campus to feel the passion of the football-first town in order to be successful in recruiting. As a lure, the coaches can use YouTube clips of the game day atmosphere, but a trip to Morgantown is a must.
"That's key," Slaughter said. "You want to get them on a visit. If you can build a relationship with them and get them on one of those five visits and get them here, then it's great. Once they do get here in this community, it's unbelievable. You go in a restaurant and people know who you are. They're passionate about their program."
Fortunately for West Virginia, some things don't change.
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