David Early to play big role in Logan’s offense

Rick Ryan | Gazette-Mail
Logan sophomore quarterback David Early.

LOGAN — So just how big is Logan quarterback David Early?

Put it this way: He’s bigger than half the starting offensive linemen in last year’s Class AA championship game between Mingo Central and Fairmont Senior.

Early, listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds but rumored to be about 20 pounds heavier, is a big talent in a big package. And not just in football, where he figures to be the focal point for the Wildcats this season.

Marshall and West Virginia have already offered him scholarships in basketball even though he’s just a 15-year-old point guard with one varsity season under his belt at the Class AA level.

But for now, Early’s putting his big-time talents on display at the football field, trying to help Logan get back to the playoffs following a 5-5 season last year.

“We feel like he’s going to be effective both running and passing,’’ said James Toth, Logan’s first-year coach. “I know we plan the offense probably being built around David Early.’’

Early burst out of the gate last year in a big way, throwing for 240 yards and four touchdowns in the opener against Man, followed by 243 yards and six TDs against Poca and 244 yards and three scores against Lincoln County.

He finished the season with 1,416 yards and 18 TD passes despite sitting two games. Early also ran for 319 yards and five TDs on just 67 carries, threw for three 2-point conversions and ran for three more.

With his size, Early makes a large and inviting target for opposing tacklers, but he thinks it works in his favor.

“I think it gives me an advantage if I run,’’ he said, “because it’s going to be hard to bring me down.’’

It might be tempting for Toth to call Early’s number for lots of sweeps and power runs, owing to his girth and athleticism, but Toth knows he’s an accurate and dynamic passer, completing 59 percent of his attempts last season (89 of 150) and averaging 16 yards per completion.

“He’s definitely a passer,’’ Toth said. “That’s been his background. He’s just a sophomore and just 15 years old, and sometimes people forget that. But we try to dictate the run-pass ratio based on the other personnel on our team and how we’re playing and what the scheme is, things like that.’’

Early suspects the Wildcats — who averaged more than 21 passes per game last year with Gary Mullins as coach — may throw a little less with Toth in charge. But he’s open for contributing either way.

“I think we’ll run the ball a lot more,’’ Early said, “and we’ll pass a little less, but we’ll see how it goes.

“The thing I do pretty well — I can throw it far. The thing I need to work on is my accuracy and getting the ball to the receivers better.’’

During June, Early split his time between his two sports, lifting with the football team, then proceeding to the basketball court to work on his game there. But when August rolls around, it’s all football.

Early has flashed Division I potential in both sports, averaging 19.3 points as a freshman in basketball, making him the leading scorer for the 14-10 Wildcats. But what does he consider himself first and foremost — a basketball player or football player?

“I consider myself No. 1 to be a basketball player,’’ Early said, indicating it’s his favorite sport.

“I have a big advantage over a little guard because I’m bigger than everybody. I can take people in the paint.’’

Toth realizes that football may not be in Early’s future, but thinks it could.

“There was talk maybe this year that he wasn’t going to play [football],’’ Toth said. “We heard both things. I know his family is very much for him playing football.

“He actually had some interest this spring from Virginia Tech [for football]. They wanted us to bring him down to talk to him because they couldn’t talk to him unless he came to Virginia Tech. But he was doing a lot of basketball, AAU and things like that and couldn’t get there. But there will be some interest for David as a football player also at some point in his career — if he continues to play football.’’

Toth thinks Early could also adjust to playing another position besides quarterback in college.

“I think Virginia Tech looks at him as an athlete,’’ Toth said. “When you’re [that size], and he’s a very athletic kid for the size, I think he could play other positions. I think he could also play quarterback if he develops. It’s just the situation we’re here in West Virginia. But if he would develop and come along, there’s no reason why he couldn’t play football at a major college.’’

On defense, Early can play anywhere from cornerback to defensive end.

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

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