West Virginia’s annual Gold-Blue Game is seen by fans as a great opportunity to evaluate the Mountaineers and the progress made during the spring session and offseason. It also provided numerous recruits — committed, signed and completely open — a chance to see the coaches and players in action.
Numbers were down a bit this year, thanks to a heavy dose of spring games taking place on Saturday. Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Virginia and Florida State were just some West Virginia’s recruiting rivals who were also hosting recruits that day. The big winner, though, was the ACT. April 12 was the next-to-last test date of the 2013-14 academic calendar, and many seniors-to-be had already committed to taking the test required by many colleges for admission.
Still, West Virginia brought in more than a dozen prospects this past weekend, and many were wildly impressed with what they saw, maybe none more so than Medina (Ohio) offensive tackle Zeke Martin.
“I loved everything about it, especially the fans,” said Martin, who holds offers from Ball State and Toledo, as well as interest from WVU, Michigan State and more. “I’m really hoping for an offer. I would love to play there, along with putting in hard work. Morgantown was awesome. Nothing bad to say about any of it.”
The positive vibes Martin got from the trip have him looking forward to a spring visit from area recruiter Ron Crook, as well as a return to Morgantown for camp this summer.
He was not the only one wowed by the fan support on Saturday, though. Future four-star prospect Steven Smothers from Franklin (Md.) returned to Morgantown for the third time in as many months, and despite his multiple visits, he still went home impressed.
“The fans were crazy,” said Smothers, who is a 2016 recruit. “In Maryland, people know who I am, but I’m not expecting people to know who I am in different states. At the game, people were coming up to me and the twins [Jacquez Adams and Jordan Adams], and they were saying ‘hey’ and knew who we were.
“And there were a lot of people there. At spring games, sometimes people don’t show up, but they had a whole side of the stadium full. I was like ‘man, this is for a spring game. Wow.’ ”
Seeing recruits from neighboring states for spring games is quite common, but it is fairly rare for recruits from Florida to pay their own way up during the school year. However, that is exactly what Osceola (Fla.) linebacker Riley Nicholson did, and the trip was well worth it, he says.
“Things went awesome at WVU,” said the 6-foot, 220-pounder. “When I got there, I went on a campus tour and visited all the facilities. The place is beautiful.”
Nicholson, who also visited Marshall and Kentucky during his three-day trip, says that West Virginia is now firmly entrenched in his top five schools, which he will divulge after the spring. He is looking into a decision sometime during the summer.
Chris Anderson is a full-time writer for eersports.com.