WVU volleyball will turn heads in 2018

At the end of the 2015 season, the West Virginia University volleyball team was at an all-time low.

A season after head coach Jill Kramer bolted Morgantown to take the TCU job, the Mountaineers finished with a record of 6-23, their worst record since the inaugural 1974 season.

Reed Sunahara, the first year head coach, came in on a rebuilding mission, but this was not new to him.

He coached Cincinnati between 2000 and 2011, bringing the Bearcats to eight NCAA Tournaments.

Two seasons after that 2015 low point, Sunahara has the Mountaineers on the winning track, clinching their best season and first postseason appearance since 1991.

WVU finished 2017 with a 21-13 record (which included an upset of No. 14 Kansas) and made it all the way to the semifinals of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

Sunahara says they’re ready for more.

“These (girls) are hungry,” Sunahara said. “They set that goal from day one that they wanted to be in the postseason. They had no idea about the NIVC, because it came kind of later on. Their goal was to make the NCAA Tournament. We fell short, but this postseason’s good for us.”

Sophomore outside hitter Payton Caffrey mentioned that program building is one of the reasons for her choice to come to WVU over the College of Charleston.

“I’m the kind of player who can go to a program like here who has struggled in the past and know that I can be a part to help,” Caffrey said. “So I did know the struggle that they had.”

“I might not be a part of that team that makes it to the final rounds (of the NCAA Tournament) and wins a national championship, but I think that the class that I’m in now, with the girls that we have, I think that we’re going to be able to leave behind the legacy that kind of sets the standards for the program.”

With high efficiency players like Caffrey, Natania Levak and Briana Lynch returning in 2018, it seems West Virginia is poised to make their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

Source: The DA Online

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Tony’s Take – Hang on to Your ‘Press Virginia’ T-Shirts – West Virginia University

Tony's Take - Hang on to Your 'Press Virginia' T-Shirts

Tony’s Take – Hang on to Your ‘Press Virginia’ T-Shirts

Tony’s Take is presented by West Virginia Tourism

During his postgame radio interview following last Saturday’s victory over Pitt, coach Bob Huggins made a major proclamation.
 
Covered with sweat and exasperated following his team’s dramatic hang-on-to-your-seat win, Huggins indicated the days of “Press Virginia” were over.
 
Boom, just like that it was over. 
 
Three years and 10 games into an experiment that has guided WVU into one of the most successful runs in school history, the Big Bear said he was shelving the press.  This year’s team, according to the coach, just doesn’t have what it takes to keep the tradition alive.
 
No more press? 
 
No more Press Virginia traps, no more steals and dunks?
 
What are we supposed to do with all those t-shirts?
 
Well, before you lose sleep or toss away your gear, slow down.  Yes, I know what the coach said. However, after watching and listening to him for the last 11 years in similar postgame situations, I know that what he says and what he does are often two different things. 
 
This is the same guy who nine years earlier on that exact same spot of the Pitt court, announced in a postgame interview, that he would NEVER EVER again design a play for forward Joe Alexander.  The coach was livid that Alexander didn’t take a shot in the late seconds of the game. Huggs proclaimed from that moment forward Alexander’s role as a Mountaineer for the remainder of his career would be solely to set screens and rebound. 
 
Well, guess how long that lasted? 
 
Alexander, who scored five points that night and missed 9 of 11 shots, went on one of the greatest rolls in school history.  Huggins’ declaration became Alexander’s coronation.  In the 14 games that followed, Alexander scored double figures in every game. He scored more than 20 points seven times, and topped 30 on three occasions.  
 
He averaged 21 points and seven rebounds with five double-doubles and played his way into the NBA Draft lottery. So much for never running another play for Joe.
 
This past Saturday’s elegy for Press Virginia will likely fall into the same category as his Alexander exile declaration.  
 
Huggins knows his team must be able to generate points from its pressure.  This is not a team built to play half-court basketball, it’s a team created for chaos and mayhem. 
 
Like a pack of hyenas waiting for fresh meat, this team is designed to cause mental and physical fatigue for the opposition.  When the other team cracks, WVU feasts off its mistakes and the points off turnovers ring up quickly.
 
Almost everything Bob Huggins says has an intended purpose.  Last Saturday’s death of the press statement was his way of sending a message to his team.  History says they’ll get the message and the press will improve.  
 
So, don’t throw away that t-shirt just yet.
 
Sometimes the Bear says one thing and means another. 
 

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Source: WVUSports.com

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Justin Crawford to skip bowl game, completing Mountaineer career



justin crawford

Oct. 21, 2017; Justin Crawford during WVU’s 38-36 win over Baylor



West Virginia University announced on Thursday that running back Justin Crawford will not play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Mon., Dec. 26.

With the decision, Crawford’s career in a Mountaineer uniform will come to a close.

“Justin has logged a lot of miles and been a key contributor for us the past two seasons,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He made a decision to not play in the bowl game based on what is best for him and his family. He came to West Virginia to further his education and be a featured back in the Big 12 and he accomplished his goals. As he starts his preparation for the NFL Draft, we wish him nothing but the best.”

Crawford finishes his college football career with 2,245 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. His most memorable game came on Nov. 19, 2016 when he had 331 rushing yards against 8th-ranked Oklahoma in front of a network television audience.

No word has come from Crawford on his decision.

The Mountaineers’ bowl game will be on Tue., Dec. 26 at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN against Utah at historic Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas.

Source: The DA Online

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Will Grier to return to WVU for 2018 season



will grier returns

Oct. 14, 2017; Will Grier puts on his helmet during the Texas Tech game



West Virginia University quarterback Will Grier announced his intention to remain in Morgantown for the 2018 season on Thursday.

Grier, who was named the Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year, played 11 games for the Mountaineers this season before injuring his middle finger on his throwing hand against Texas.

“After much prayer and consultation with my family and coaches, I have decided to return to WVU for my senior season,” Grier said. “There is still a great deal that I want this team to accomplish and I look forward to helping lead us to success in 2018. I am completely focused and looking forward to building off the success we had this year and want to do even greater things next year. West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here.”

Grier completed 250 of his 388 passes this season for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns. His 3,490 passing yards already ranks among the top 10 in Mountaineer career passing yardage.

“Will’s decision to return next year certainly makes it a great day for West Virginia football,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He is a great leader for our program, and I know our fans enjoy watching his talents on the football field. His teammates and the coaching staff are certainly looking forward to his return, and this is positive news for all involved.”

The Mountaineers will conclude the 2017 season in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Utah on Dec. 26 at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN. It is unlikely that Grier will see action in the game.

Source: The DA Online

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West Virginia running back Justin Crawford to skip bowl game to focus on preparing for the NFL Draft

It’s been a pretty busy day for official news releases from the West Virginia Mountaineers athletic department. Of course, the biggest news being that which pertained to quarterback Will Grier. Another news release has just come down the pipe and it’s one that most Mountaineer fans will find is a sensible decision by senior running back Justin Crawford.

According to the release, Crawford will skip the Heart of Dallas Bowl on December 26th, and the preparation leading up to the game, to focus on the upcoming NFL Combine and Draft.

“Justin has logged a lot of miles and been a key contributor for us the past two seasons. He made a decision to not play in the bowl game based on what is best for him and his family. He came to West Virginia to further his education and be a featured back in the Big 12 and he accomplished his goals. As he starts his preparation for the NFL Draft, we wish him nothing but the best.” – Dana Holgorsen

Crawford is not the first college running back to make this move; Jacksonville Jaguars star running back Leonard Fournette skipped LSU’s bowl game to prepare for the NFL.

Crawford finished his career at West Virginia with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, the first Mountaineer running back to accomplish the feat since Noel Devine did it in 2008 and 2009.

Source: Smoking Musket

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Dana Holgorsen Putting Together A Historic Recruiting Class For West Virginia

This class has a chance to be the special one for Dana

Recruiting is the lifeblood of college coaches. Yes you need to be able to scheme, manage the game, and schmooze the boosters but if you can’t recruit, then you are working against a stacked deck. For the past few seasons, Dana Holgorsen’s ability to recruit has come into question, bringing in classes that have ranked in the mid-30s on Rivals.com and 247Sports.com . Last year, in part because of contract negotiations that did not take place until later in the season, Dana and his staff pulled in his worst ranked class as a head coach.

This year, however, the staff has turned things around with a class that has the chance to be the best class ever signed at WVU, at least according to Rivals.com.

The most impressive portion of this year’s class is the amount of high school players included. In 2014, West Virginia had a solid class that was going to be a foundation for the school as it began to fill out its roster to compete in the Big 12. Unfortunately, the top end targets in that 2014 class did not pan out. When you look at the 2014 class, the star was Dravon Askew-Henry, then as you begin to go down the list you see player after player who did not pan out: Donte Thomas-Williams, William Crest, Ricky Rogers, etc.

That 2014 class bled over into the 2015 class. The top two stars for the 2015 class didn’t pan out: Tyrek Cole and Jovon Durante. While those two didn’t work out there are others as well: Stone Wolfley, Larry Jefferson, and Jordan Adams.

The downside of those two classes is that the coaching staff was then forced to rely on JUCO transfers to help fill out the roster and the holes left by players not performing. Dana Holgorsen has done a good job of supplementing the roster with JUCO talent but ultimately, a top notch college program is built from the high school players who stay with the school 4-5 years.

This year’s class is made up of 19 high school players and the team is already at 22 commitments. The coaching staff has made a more concerted effort to focus on the high school talent.

Four star players like Dante Stills and Kwantel Raines are almost assured of starting as freshman and becoming instant players. The staff focused on getting bigger along the offensive line with tackle Oyenmwen Uzebu and Blaine Scott, both of whom are over 300 pounds. They brought in a massive nose tackle in James Gmitmer at 300 pounds who can help anchor the 3-3-5.

With this class, the staff has been able to capitalize on the first 10-win season as a member of the Big 12. 2018 presents an unique opportunity for the school as it [hopefully] returns its starting quarterback in Will Grier along with most of its receivers and running backs. On the defensive side, for the first time since 2013, Tony Gibson will not be required to replace all of his defensive units. The power schools in the Big 12: Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys and TCU Horned Frogs all have to replace a senior quarterback. Growing pains are a part of college and it could mean WVU can catch these schools as they need to break in new starters.

If the staff is able to turn 2018 into a special year, you could see a 2020 recruiting class that rivals this class. That would give the school an influx of talent that it has never seen before and could be the step necessary to making a leap in the Big 12.

Source: Smoking Musket

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Grier to Return for Senior Season – West Virginia University

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University junior quarterback Will Grier has announced that he will return for his senior season in 2018.
 
“After much prayer and consultation with my family and coaches, I have decided to return to WVU for my senior season,” Grier said. “There is still a great deal that I want this team to accomplish and I look forward to helping lead us to success in 2018. I am completely focused and looking forward to building off the success we had this year and want to do even greater things next year. West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here.”
 
Grier, who will graduate tomorrow with a degree in multidisciplinary studies, was the 2017 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year as selected by the league coaches, ESPN.com and the Associated Press. He has started 11 games this season, completing 250-of-388 passes for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns. He has thrown for 300 or more yards in nine games and has had multiple touchdown passes in 10 games. He sustained a hand injury against Texas that forced him to miss the reminder of the regular season.
 
In his first season at West Virginia, his top performances were 375 yards and five touchdowns at Baylor, 372 yards and four touchdowns at Kansas State and 371 yards and three touchdowns against Virginia Tech.
 
“Will’s decision to return next year certainly makes it a great day for West Virginia football,” WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He is a great leader for our program, and I know our fans enjoy watching his talents on the football field. His teammates and the coaching staff are certainly looking forward to his return, and this is positive news for all involved.”
 
Grier, who already is tied for No. 9 in school history in touchdown passes, was named a second-team All-Big 12 Conference performer by ProFootballFocus, a Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist and the league’s newcomer of the week five times. He was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 16 and was the Manning Award National Quarterback of the Week two times.
 
Nationally, Grier ranks No. 7 in passing touchdowns and pass efficiency, No. 8 in passing yards per game, No. 9 in points responsible for per game and yards per pass attempt, No. 10 in total offense, No. 11 in points responsible for, No. 13 in completions per game, No. 15 in passing yards, No. 16 in passing yards per completion and No. 20 in completion percentage.
 
He also ranks among the top three in the Big 12 statistics in passing touchdowns, total offense, passing yards per game, passing efficiency, completions per game, points responsible for, points responsible for per game and yards per pass attempt.

In the West Virginia single-season record book, Grier ranks No. 2 in passing touchdowns, is tied for No. 2 in touchdowns responsible for and is No. 5 in total offense and completions. He is No. 3 in junior passing and total offense.
 
 

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Source: WVUSports.com

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Exhibition Set for Saturday – West Virginia University

Exhibition Set for Saturday

Exhibition Set for Saturday

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University men’s basketball team returns to action this Saturday vs. Wheeling Jesuit in an exhibition game at the WVU Coliseum.
 
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m., and all tickets are $10.
 
All fans are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to the gates to support the food drive. All fans are welcome to attend a 30-minute postgame autograph session with the team on the Coliseum floor. Fans are limited to one autograph item per person and posed pictures are not permitted.
 
To purchase tickets, visit WVUGAME.com or call 1-800-WVU GAME.
 

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Source: WVUSports.com

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Bowl Throwback Series: 1938 Sun Bowl


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1937 wvu football

The 1937 West Virginia University team photo



“1937 marked the return of the golden era for Mountaineer football. Everything went well for the Varsity under the leadership of Marshall “Little Sleepy” Glenn, who was elevated to the coaching job left by “Trusty” Tallman”

The Monticola (WVU’s yearbook that was produced yearly between 1896 and 1987) described the 1937 football season as the return of the “golden era”, but it turned out to be the lone winning season in Glenn’s tenure as WVU head coach.

Glenn, who was only 29 years old during the 1937 season, was a former football and basketball star at WVU in the late 1920s and replaced Charles Tallman, who resigned as head coach following the 1936 season to become the superintendent of the West Virginia State Police.

Like Clarence Spears in 1922, Glenn was also studying medicine while coaching and would open a practice in Charles Town in the late 1940s.


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harry clarke

Harry Clarke was the star running back of the 1937 Mountaineers



The football team was led by Harry Clarke, a sophomore running back from Uniontown, was the Glenn’s biggest star.

Clarke would run for over 100 yards in seven games in 1937 and finished the season with 831 yards rushing, a record that would stand until Garrett Ford broke it with 894 in 1965. He would be drafted by the Chicago Bears the following spring.

The Mountaineers opened up the season with a 14-0 shutout win at West Virginia Wesleyan before playing Pitt in the home opener. The Panthers were coached by four-time national championship coach Jock Sutherland (who would later lead the Steelers to their first-ever playoff appearance in 1947).

The Monticola described the Oct. 2 game against Pitt:

“Pitt brought a team that was destined to become national champs to the stadium. The ‘Glennmen’ held the Pitt team to one touchdown in three quarters, but finally lost 20-0. Pitt picked the Mountaineers as the hardest-playing team it met. The Varsity ran up more yardage and held Pitt down better than any other team.”

West Virginia bounced back with a 6-0 win over Washington & Lee in Charleston, a 13-7 win over Xavier (in which Clark ran for 153 yards), a 13-0 win over Waynesburg and a dominating 64-0 win over Western Maryland College (currently known as McDaniel College).


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1937 football action

Oct. 2, 1937; A large crowd watches WVU take on eventual national champion Pitt at Mountaineer Field



The second blemish on the WVU football schedule came in the nation’s capital where Georgetown played the Mountaineers to a tie, 6-6.

West Virginia responded with blowout wins over Toledo (34-0) and George Washington (26-0) in Morgantown to finish with a final regular season record of 7-1-1.

Despite not being ranked, the Mountaineers were invited to play in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on New Year’s Day 1938 against present-day Big 12 conference foe Texas Tech. The Red Raiders had a modest record of 8-3, but was on a seven game winning streak and owned the Border Conference title.

In El Paso, defense ruled the game as the bout only managed two scores. One by West Virginia and another by Texas Tech, both in the second quarter.


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marshall glenn

WVU head football coach Marshall “Little Sleepy” Glenn



A Red Raider fumble at their own three-yard line set up WVU’s score, a bobbled run by David Isaac to put the Mountaineers up 7-0.

Texas Tech running back Charlie Calhoun scored on a one-yard rush, capping an 80-yard Red Raider drive before the half. The extra point was blocked by the WVU front defensive line, giving the game the final 7-6 score.

Clarke would have a 92-yard rush in the second half, but it was called back due to a Mountaineer clipping penalty at the 50-yard line.

Texas Tech outplayed the Mountaineers, outgaining them by 64 yards in total offense, completing more passes (WVU was 0-for-7 from the air), and had five more first downs. The fumble at their own five-yard line in the second quarter turned out to be the deciding factor.

A large amount of WVU fans would greet the Mountaineers early the next morning to celebrate the bowl victory. It would be another 11 years before West Virginia would return to a bowl game.


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morgantown in 1938

A view of the Morgantown landscape from Westover in the spring of 1938



Source: The DA Online

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Stedman Bailey Ready To Make An NFL Comeback

It’s been just over two years since former West Virginia Mountaineers standout Stedman Bailey was shot in the head in a random act of violence in his hometown of Miami, Florida. Bailey and his cousin were waiting outside of a friends house when a vehicle pulled up beside their SUV and began to spray bullets. Bailey was hit in the hip and twice in the head, shattering his skull. Bailey’s life was in danger, and his NFL career was sure to be over. At least, that’s what everyone told him. Stedman would not settle for that, and two extensive surgeries later the 27-year old is ready to return to the league.

Fox Sports national writer Peter Schrager broke the news that Bailey is ready to make his return to the NFL this morning on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network. Bailey has been cleared by his personal doctor, and has worked out with Tavon Austin and Pittsburgh Steeler’s star Antonio Brown through his recovery process. Bailey will have to be cleared by team doctors before he can be signed, but things are looking up for the former third-round draft pick.

You’ve got all of Mountaineer Nation behind you, Steddy B.

Source: Smoking Musket

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