New West Virginia University assistant football coach Shannon Dawson doesn't need many questions to get him going. In fact, ask the personable Louisiana native one or two and you're likely to get a whole lot more information than you originally sought - which is a treasure trove for us treasure seekers.
Dawson spent two years recruiting quarterback Paul Millard, now enrolled at WVU and getting ready for spring ball starting at the end of next month, and what Dawson has seen in Millard is something other schools began to notice late in the recruiting process.
"There were a lot of people who knew about him," Dawson said. "Arizona knew about him. I have a buddy at Houston and they made a home visit with him. The bottom line was he was No. 2 on a lot of people's lists. When you look at quarterbacks and you rate them, everybody had their committed guy and basically Paul was in that next mix of guys - two to three.
"It was the same up north. I know Minnesota actually offered him late after we had gotten here," Dawson said. "He was right there on people's radar and, in my opinion, a lot of people were not pulling the trigger because he's not a real mobile guy. A lot of these schools are running the option and doing this and that and that's not what he does."
What Millard does is throw the football, passing for more than 4,000 yards and 47 touchdowns during his senior season.
"If you look at his stats and you watch his film his coach is similar to our philosophy," said Dawson. "They throw it around - they had to. If you know anything about where he came from versus who they played, they played in a very tough 5A district. The teams they play are extremely athletic, extremely good and the school he goes to they don't have those skilled guys there. They spread it out and level the playing field and just toss it around."
Millard and Brian Athey will likely get most of the QB reps this spring until returning starter Geno Smith is cleared to resume full-scale work.
Incidentally, I saw Geno walking in the Coliseum hallway yesterday and he was moving at a brisk pace with a protective boot on his foot.
- I have no idea how good Paul Millard is but I do know this: TCU has fared pretty well of late with overlooked Texas high school football players. That's something to keep in mind when you begin reading about other Texas players the West Virginia coaches are pursuing.
- Those of you with Androids wanting to get the latest official WVU sports news delivered right to your mobile devices can download the new West Virginia App, developed by Row 27. Just go to Market on your phone and do a search for West Virginia Mountaineers to download the App.
Here is a link for more details
A companion App for iPhone users is also available in the iTunes store.
- Cincinnati likely stamped its ticket to the NCAA tournament with last night's 58-46 victory at 11th-rated Georgetown. The Bearcats are now 22-6 overall, and more importantly, 9-6 in conference play.
Cincinnati has not made the NCAA tournament since Bob Huggins coached there.
With the Bearcats now assured of at least a .500 record in Big East play, the league is likely to get 10 teams into this year's NCAA tournament field of 68 with an 11th still a very good possibility in Marquette, the Golden Eagles having winnable games remaining against Connecticut, Providence, Cincinnati and Seton Hall. Marquette is currently 16-11 overall and 7-7 in the conference.
West Virginia (17-9, 8-6) is also in very good shape with one of the best strength of schedules in the country, the Mountaineers likely needing one more win to lock up a spot in the Big Dance.
ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has 11 Big East teams in his latest NCAA tournament bracket with Pitt being the lone No. 1 seed from the conference. Lunardi has Marquette the last Big East team getting into the tournament as an 11 seed and the bracketologist also has seven Big East teams seeded fifth or higher.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins frequently tells his players what they need to get into the tournament, based on the information that is made available to him. He has always had that a policy of his.
"I have always tried to be really honest with our guys about everything, where we are, where we stand and what we need to do," Huggins said. "I think there were times when people asked if I was putting pressure on them. I know when I was a player I wanted to know what we needed to do.
"Those guys have been around long enough to know that I am honest with them, and I do expect more from them and I should," Huggins said.
- Several veteran basketball observers have told me at different times this winter how amazed they are with what Huggins has been able to do with this year's basketball team. The fact that West Virginia is on track for another NCAA tournament appearance is a testament to what a truly outstanding coach Huggins is.
Huggins likely will not get any votes for Big East coach of the year (Steve Lavin all but has the award locked up) but he probably should.
- Former Mountaineer national champion Megan (Metcalfe) Wright recently broke the Canadian Indoor national 5,000-meter record at the Valentine Invitational in Boston on Feb. 11 with a time of 15:25.15. The previous Canadian record was 15:37.02 set by Kathy Butler in 1997. Megan is currently performing for New Balance.
Another Canadian, women's soccer's Bry McCarthy, will play for the Canadian women's national team in the 2011 Cyprus Women's Cup in Greece, Feb. 28-March 10. McCarthy, a junior forward for the Mountaineers, made her international debut with the Canadian national team last summer in Hamar, Norway.
- We were saddened to learn of the death of Duane Daniels, "Mr. D", who passed away at his home in Shinnston earlier this week following a lengthy illness. Mr. D - Mountaineer football's long-time equipment truck driver - always had a smile on his face and a funny story to tell. He was 79.
The Mountaineers lost another big supporter recently with the passing of Dr. Lemoyne Coffield. Lemoyne was a West Virginia University classmate of Mickey Furfari and Jack Fleming, who also became close friends with Ira Rodgers, Jr., while attending WVU.
Dr. Coffield was a long-time physician in New Martinsville, owning a practice with his late brother Terrell. It was estimated that Lemoyne and Terrell delivered more than 4,000 babies during their medical careers. Lemoyne was 87.
- Jedd Gyorko is one of 30 San Diego Padre lower-level prospects invited to participate in a special 15-day mini-camp at the Padres' training facility in Peoria, Ariz.
The mini-camp is an accelerated development program for players entering their first or second full season, or players who might be jumping a level. Gyorko played A-ball for San Diego last year after earning All-America honors at WVU.
- The WVU baseball team is off to a 2-1 start with wins over Iowa and Illinois in the Big Ten/Big East Baseball Challenge held last weekend in Tampa, Fla. The Mountaineers have four tough ones this weekend, facing Miami, Ohio, Marist and UNC Wilmington in Wilmington, N.C., before wrapping up the North Carolina swing with a Monday afternoon game at Wake Forest.
The key for the Mountaineers has always been to come out of their first three southern trips with at least a few wins in the bag so they don't get buried when they begin their long homestand in mid-March. It looks like Greg Van Zant's bunch is going to do that.
West Virginia is scheduled to open at home against Bryant on March 8.
- Joe Alexander scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds in the NBA D-League all-star game played last Saturday in Los Angeles before the NBA all-star game. In 33 games with the Texas Legends, Alexander is averaging 19.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
Speaking of former Mountaineer players in pro basketball, Devin Ebanks is still with the Lakers, appearing in 19 games this year and averaging 3.1 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. Ebanks scored 8 points in his most recent appearance against Atlanta on Feb. 22.
- I had an opportunity to say hello to several former Mountaineer players who returned to campus for last week's WVU Varsity Club reunion. One of those I talked to briefly was Seldon Jefferson, now an assistant high school basketball coach in New York City. Jefferson has observed West Virginia signee Jabarie Hinds on several occasions and has been impressed with what he's seen of him.
Hinds was recently named one of four finalists for New York's Mr. Basketball Award presented to the state's top player by the New York Basketball Coaches Association.
- Did you realize Truck Bryant is just 55 points shy of becoming West Virginia's 48th 1,000-point scorer? Kevin Jones was the latest to reach the 1,000-point plateau and he now shows 1,064 career points heading into tonight's Backyard Brawl.
- It's hard to believe West Virginia has won only once at the Petersen Events Center since it opened, and has won only twice in Pittsburgh since 1998. The Mountaineers have had a couple of Steel City near-misses under Bob Huggins, one in 2008 when Ronald Ramon hit a last-second shot to defeat the Mountaineers, 55-54, and then last year when the Panthers overcame a seven-point deficit in the final minute of regulation to defeat West Virginia, 98-95, in triple-overtime in one of the classic games in WVU-Pitt basketball history.
- Pitt coach Jamie Dixon has lost 11 times when following a loss. Unfortunately, he's also won 37.
- West Virginia's once substantial lead in the Basketball Brawl has now been whittled down to a nine-game advantage (95-86) heading into tonight's contest. Since 2000, Pitt owns a 15-8 record against the Mountaineers.
- We get 93.7 "The Fan" down here in Morgantown and I was listening to the "Brandin Knight Show" during my drive home from work Wednesday night. Knight, of course, is Pitt's assistant basketball coach and he had some interesting observations about the Panther basketball team and tonight's Backyard Brawl.
However, the general impression I got from listening to show host Andrew Filipponi is that he expects the Panthers to experience no problems with the Mountaineers tonight.
Ah, to be young again!
To get you further primed for tonight's game, here is something Steve Douglas from the WVU Alumni Association passed along earlier today, a href = http://pittnews.com/genac/2011/02/23/further-know-thine-enemy-the-west-virignia-university-mountaineers/
Enjoy the game!