|Former Mountaineer player Damon Cogdell is expected to give West Virginia a big boost in Florida recruiting.
My good buddy Doug Huff over in Wheeling used to have a popular column in the Wheeling Intelligencer called Off-Beat, and in it he used to provide his weekly “Smorgasbord of Notes.”
So in honor of Doug, here is this week’s smorgasbord of WVU notes …
- I no longer follow football recruiting that closely (I lost interest when Florida running back Vince Powell never made it to Morgantown), but the people who do tell me that Dana Holgorsen has added another ace to his hand with the addition of Damon Cogdell.
Cogdell’s prep coaching resume was impressive at Miramar (Fla.) High and Mountaineer fans are certainly very familiar with some of his best players – quarterback Geno Smith, of course, is now the starting quarterback for the New York Jets while wide receiver Stedman Bailey is doing his thing with the St. Louis Rams.
The release WVU put out Wednesday morning announcing Cogdell’s hiring mentioned 50 of his Miramar players going on to play college football, including five of them coming here to WVU.
Cogdell developed one of the strongest programs in the Sunshine State, winning 72 out of 91 games at Miramar, including capturing the 2009 Florida state title and finishing second in 2011.
I recall Cogdell, a JC transfer from Chaffey Junior College, being one heck of a linebacker at WVU for the first eight games of his junior season in 1997 before a serious hip injury at Syracuse essentially derailed a very promising career. Cogdell played as a senior in 1998, but he was never quite the same player.
Now, Cogdell returns to Morgantown where he joins a very impressive group of recruiters.
You’ve got Tony Gibson, who helped lure Denard Robinson to Michigan and Rushel Shell, who Gibson first recruited to Pitt and then to WVU, as well as promising Mountaineer wide receiver Mario Alford; Lonnie Galloway, who delivered Bruce Irvin and Tavon Austin to Mountaineer fans, and JaJuan Seider, who landed Rakeem Cato at Marshall along with many of the South Florida players that helped the Herd to a 10-4 record and a victory over Maryland in this year’s Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md.
Having Seider and Cogdell in the Puskar Center means Holgorsen is now all in down in South Florida, if he wasn’t already.
And now, some more helpings …
- The name of the game has always been talent acquisition, as former Mountaineer coach Frank Cignetti used to call recruiting.
UCLA’s John Wooden, perhaps the greatest coach in NCAA sports history, made four NCAA tournament trips during a 14-year period from 1948-62 until a guy named Walt Hazzard showed up on campus. Later, players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Sidney Wicks turned a very good basketball coach into a legend.
So, yes, I would say recruiting is important, even if I don’t understand it.
- In my opinion, two of the most under-rated football recruiters in WVU history were Bill Kirelawich and Dave McMichael. Kirlav delivered all of those Berwick boys that West Virginia won with in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as John Thornton, Chris Neild, Stevie Slaton and a 200-pound high school wide receiver named Anthony Becht, just to name a few.
Right before the February signing date, as the story goes, Becht didn’t have a single Division I offer and Kirelawich was concerned that Becht would not be approved by his Mountaineer position coach, so he called up a coaching buddy at Delaware and asked him to offer Becht a scholarship so he could say to the rest of the staff that Becht had another offer.
His Delaware buddy obliged, and Kirlav delivered that useful piece of (mis)information when he made his plea to give Becht one of the few remaining scholarships left, adding that the offers were beginning to rain down on the Philly wide receiver.
The others bought Kirlav's story, and voilà, the Mountaineers had themselves a future No. 1 draft pick.
Now that’s recruiting!
Also, it was McMichael who was responsible for all those good Long Island players West Virginia was able to land in the 1990s, among them consensus All-American linebacker Canute Curtis, record-setting running back Amos Zereoue and a very productive wide receiver in Rahsaan Vanterpool.
- Odyssey Sims’ 48-point, 10-rebound, seven-assist game last night for the Baylor women’s team ranks No. 1 on my list of the best-ever performances at the WVU Coliseum.
Sims was 14-of-29 shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3, hit 14-of-17 from the free throw line and played all 40 minutes.
I wasn’t here for Austin Carr’s 47-point explosion in 1971 (I was only three at the time), but the Notre Dame All-American was superb, hitting 18-of-30 from the floor while going 11-of-15 from the free throw line. The former Mackin (D.C.) High star also grabbed 10 boards that night.
Keep in mind, too, that Carr didn’t have the benefit of a 3-point line in 1971, but he did have a pretty good stalking horse in West Virginia’s Wil Robinson, who scored 30 in the Mountaineers’ nine-point loss.
Speaking of Robinson, he scored a career-high 45 in West Virginia’s 101-89 victory over Penn State on Feb. 24, 1971, and holds the Coliseum record with four career 40-point games, including scoring 42 in his final Coliseum appearance against Pitt on March 4, 1972.
Some other great performances at the Coliseum through the years that these eyes have witnessed:
- Da’Sean Butler’s 43 points in West Virginia’s 93-72 win over Villanova in 2009
- The Shaq of the MAC, Ohio’s Gary Trent, putting up 41 on the Mountaineers in a 90-81 Bobcat loss in 1993
- Bowling Green’s Antonio Daniels going for 38 in an NIT loss to West Virginia in 1997
- Meg Bulger’s 38 against Cleveland State in 2005, and big sister Kate’s 36-point performance against Syracuse in 2003
I only mention this because another great player is coming to the Coliseum this weekend in Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, who shows averages of 17.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Smart, a sophomore, is projected to be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft.
- West Virginia’s free web stream of last night’s Baylor game had nearly 4,500 viewers. The folks at Citynet told me this morning that a large percentage of its gigabit pipeline was needed to deliver the game to computers and mobile devices throughout the country.
Earlier this year, West Virginia had a record 6,200 viewers watch West Virginia’s NCAA tournament women’s soccer match against Rutgers, while baseball consistently averaged more than 3,000 views per web stream last year during its inaugural season in the Big 12.
WVU’s next free women’s basketball web stream will be Wednesday, Jan. 18 against Oklahoma.
- Football SID Mike Montoro just handed me a copy of the final NCAA football statistical rankings, and the four strongest areas for the Mountaineers in 2013 were fumbles recovered (fourth), net punting (seventh), blocked punts (18th) and turnovers gained (19th).
- Sticking with NCAA stats, as of Jan. 5 the top categories for the 10-5 Mountaineer men’s basketball team are turnover margin (21st), assist-to-turnover ratio (21st), scoring offense (32nd) and three-point field goal percentage (32nd).
Surprisingly, West Virginia is 103rd this week in scoring defense, clearly an anomaly for any Bob Huggins-coached basketball team.
- It will be interesting to see how well Bobby Petrino does a second time around at Louisville. I recall Back to the Future II not going so well for our friends up at Pitt with Johnny Majors, and like Petrino, Majors was a tremendous football coach.
That is one of the few shows that I watch with my 11-year-old son, while also keeping one eye trained on the woods outside my house, of course.
- Our Grant Dovey has come up with the note of the week. After phone calls to the eight other Big 12 baseball SIDs, Dovey determined that West Virginia has the only pitching staff in the conference with all three of its returning weekend starters previously drafted by big league teams.
Reigning Big 12 pitcher of the year Harrison Musgrave was taken in the 33rd round last year by the Philadelphia Phillies while Air Force transfer Sean Carley was selected in the 34th round by the San Diego Padres. John Means, a Sunday starter last year, was drafted in the 46th round coming out of high school.
The last time WVU had its entire weekend rotation drafted was in 2001 when Shane Rhodes, David Maust and Vance McCracken were taken. Also on that pitching staff were two other pitchers later picked during their careers, right-handed reliever Billy Biggs and lefty Matt Blethen.
Good stuff from guys with obviously some very good stuff!
Have a great weekend!