By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Whether senior citizens or elementary-age children, West Virginia Mountaineer fans of all sizes and ages clamored on Tuesday evening to get a photo made with, or an autograph from, WVU head football coach Dana Holgorsen.
“Love it down here, love the people, just a bunch of true Mountaineers,” he said at a press conference prior to his official appearance at the 44th annual Coaches Caravan stop, held for the fourth year at the Chuck Mathena Center in Princeton.
“I get down here probably four or five times a year, and this is one of the bigger events that we do in the Mountaineer Athletic Club,” the football coach said.
“The whole month of May is kind of our time to be able to get out and see different parts of the state, (to) see people and try to create some excitement about the upcoming season,” he said.
Holgorsen’s schedule for this week is unique. To begin with, the football team reconvened on Monday.
“We had a big team meeting yesterday, but we still can’t get our hands on them ’til about June the first,” the coach said.
Monday evening included a radio talk show in Summersville and a night spent at Glade Springs. After a day of golf there, he and WVU basketball coaches Mike Carey and Bob Huggins headed south for Princeton — and will be together today in Beckley.
Holgorsen said, “Everybody thinks that because we have relatively the same job at the same university, we’re going to spend a lot of time together.”
“This is really the only month out of the year that we actually get to spend time together. (I’ve) got a great relationship with Coach Huggins, got a great relationship with Oliver Luck and Mike Carey. It’s just always good to get out and spend time with them.”
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Taking some spring football practices outside of Morgantown has been a success, he said.
“We were just kind of sitting around the dinner table one night, talking about what we need to be doing to reach out to the people of West Virginia, and that was one thing that was suggested. I thought it was a great idea,” he said.
“It was something that was recepted pretty good and I think we’ll probably build on it and do it a little bit more next year.”
He added, “Recruiting never ends. All of our coaching staff is out on the road, recruiting right now. The signing class, we’re excited about. We’re excited about the entire signing class.”
“We really haven’t thought about those guys much since signing day, because there’s not a whole lot we can do with them. But most of them will be showing up June 9 ... to add to what we’ve already got started.”
One of “those guys” is pass-rusher Shaquille Riddick, a transfer from Gardner-Webb University, a Division II school in North Carolina. He could play for WVU next fall.
Holgorsen said, “Tells you something about recruiting. Coming out of high school he was 6-foot-6, 175 pounds. You’re not going to recruit a kid like that. He was a good track guy, he was a good basketball guy.
“Five years later, he’s got his degree, he’s weighing about 245 pounds, and he’s a guy who can make a difference.”
“He’s a guy that’s long, he’s got long arms, he’s got good quickness and he can come off the edge. It’s important in the Big 12. We throw a lot in the Big 12, so we need guys that can come off the edge and get to the quarterback.”
The recruiting strategy for West Virginia football has “targeted the East Coast, and it’s boded well for us,” Holgorsen said. “There’s a lot of times I was spending in Texas, but it’s hard to beat out a lot of good programs in Texas to come all the way to West Virginia.”
“If we’re on the East Coast, we have something to sell that nobody on the East Coast has to sell. It’s a very exciting conference, arguably the best conference in the country. It’s an exciting brand of ball.”
“It’s all about that TV screen. They get a lot of exposure in a lot of great places. The guys on the East Coast know about the Big 12 now, because West Virginia’s in it.”
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He said he has talked to the two WVU alumni taken in this month’s NFL draft, defensive lineman Will Clarke and running back Charles Sims.
“I think both of them helped themselves their senior year, and once their senior year was over, they did great in the workouts,” Holgorsen said. He predicted, “I think they are going to play for a long time.”
— Contact Tom Bone at