YE OLDE NOTEBOOK: Consider this an issued apology. It is to some poor, unsuspecting soul. To some poor, unsuspecting WVU football soul. Because if he was punked this week during practice, I am partly to blame.
See, I apparently - unwittingly - instigated the Mountaineer team instigator, cornerback Avery Williams.It started innocently enough. While interviewing Williams, the team's top No. 3 corner, he was distracted as he tried to distract teammate Shawne Alston, who was being interviewed by others.He then explained he's the team instigator. Said he and Tavon Austin "go at it all the time.""Me and [Austin] are like the biggest goofballs on the team," Williams said with a smile.Anyway, Williams and I spoke for a while. He talked about his current position within the team, running No. 1 at boundary corner while injured Pat Miller is out."I'm definitely in the lineup," he said. "Me and Brodrick [Jenkins] are running with the ones. He's the boundary [corner]; I'm the field [corner]. I'm the boundary; he's the field. Then we have Terrell Chestnut, who has been out [with a concussion]."Me and Brodrick have to step up. We've lost corners due to injuries. It's nothing serious, but me and Brod have to hold it down for right now."A vivacious character, Williams spoke of the team, which, he says, is "full of excitement.""We're going to surprise a lot of people who think this is just an offensive team," said the corner. "We're more comfortable with this coaching staff. I'm not taking anything away from the coaches we had last year - Coach [Dave] Lockwood was cool - but this defense is more understandable."He's also come to understand something about WVU's offense. Something that can carry over into next season."Coach [Dana] Holgorsen and the offensive coaches are very good at seeing who panics or tires," Williams said. "They pay a lot of attention to that. If you're bending over or look like you're frustrated, you're going to get that deep ball thrown on you."Williams crackled with excitement. He got back to his penchant for kidding his teammates."We joke around and have fun," he said. "It's not always serious. When it comes to football and business, though, it's time to get serious."
So then I asked. Does he joke? Does he prank? Does he punk?An ornery smile crossed his face."I'm going to do one for you," Williams said. "Come at me next week and I'll tell you what I did."To the victim, I apologize.One of the neat parts of this job is learning the stories of players. And perhaps no player has a story as neat as Mountaineer defensive end Chidoziem Ezemma.
To begin with, Ezemma is a Division II transfer from the University of New Haven (Conn.). ("I had a lot of options," he said of the process. "I had a long summer. But God really came through for me. I ended up at West Virginia University.")
That's just the beginning of Ezemma's story. He's majoring in computer engineering. He leads a school prayer group. And, yes, although his home is listed as Pomona, N.Y., there's more to his background.
"I come from New York, but I'm Nigerian," Ezemma said. "Both of my parents are directly from Nigeria. My name [Chidoziem] means 'God, please protect me.' It's actually a prayer."I go by Dozey because it's short. It's easier for people to pronounce than Chidoziem."So how did Ezemma end up in Morgantown?"To be honest, it was me doing the process," he said. "My mom really didn't know West Virginia. In New York, you really don't even know West Virginia exists, to be honest. She was shocked I was leaving. But I said, 'You don't have to worry about me. God got me.' She's OK now. She's happy I'm doing well."Ezemma, by the way, is the No. 2 defensive end to Tyler Anderson when Will Clarke plays tackle instead of end. And Dozey has fans."Zero body fat," said linebacker Isaiah Bruce. "And man, he plays hard. It will be interesting to see him play this year."And finally . . .
Some players are chatty. Some informative. And then there's free safety Travis Bell.He's expected to be one of WVU's top defensive players next season. But he's a man of few words.If you listen closely, though, you'll uncover some gems from the junior.For instance, Bell was asked about the Mountaineer defense."We're going to be [among the nation's] top five defenses this year," he said. "We're trying to. We'd like to be No. 1."The difference between last season's 3-3-5 odd stack and the new 3-4 scheme?"It's a lot faster and easier for other players," he said, excluding himself.He was asked if the secondary is missing anything since the loss of seniors Eain Smith, Keith Tandy and Brantwon Bowser."Not really."Newcomers of impact?"I'm going to go with the freshman, [safety] Karl Joseph. I like him. He brings a lot to the table."His high moment since becoming a Mountaineer?"I'm going to go with my first game against UNLV. I had the big hit on the sideline. I got a flag for it. But it was still worth it."Then there was this. When asked about his low moment as a Mountaineer, Bell shook his head and answered."Every time I go against Tavon Austin," he said. "Every day."Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.