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NCAA Football: Eastern Kentucky at West Virginia

Sep 12, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (2) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Jarret Doege didn’t grow up as a West Virginia University football fan.

Just the opposite.

As a kid in Lubbock, Texas, the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback was a big Texas Tech fan. That’s because his older brother, Seth, was the Red Raiders starting quarterback.

Oh yeah, the younger Doege also was fond of Texas Tech’s offensive coordinator in those days. WVU fans may have heard of him. He was a young guy named Neal Brown.

All this set the stage for a touchdown pass down memory lane during WVU’s Zoom meeting on Tuesday. It all started when Doege was asked to recall his memories of WVU’s game at Texas Tech during the 2012 season.

“I remember that game like it was yesterday,” said Doege, as excitement crept into his voice. “West Virginia came in and was ranked No. 3 with Geno [star quarterback Geno Smith] and Stedman Bailey [star wide receiver] and all those guys.

“My brother hung like, I think, six touchdowns on them [along with 504 yards passing]. It was 49-14. I ended up rushing the field. I was like seventh or eighth grade. I rushed the field and now, hopefully, I can swap the roles here this year.”

Who would have guessed after witnessing one of WVU’s most embarrassing losses, Doege eventually would wind up as the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma?

Nobody.

But life is an intriguing road with lots of detours. For example, who would have expected this Texan to start his college quarterbacking career at Bowling Green University, of all places?

Yet that’s what happened.

“At Bowling Green, I came in with a staff that came from Texas Tech,” explained Doege, a 6-foot-2, 208-pound redshirt junior. “I had grown up going to camps at Tech, so I knew these guys really well. They were like family. My brother [Seth] was on the staff, he was receivers coach.

“All those guys ended up getting fired after the [2018] season, so I decided I wanted to go try to play big-time football at the highest level of competition. So I jumped into the [transfer] portal and had a few calls from all kinds of different schools.”

That’s when his longtime relationship with Brown came back into play.

“I’ve always had a relationship with Neal,” explained Doege, “just because my brother played at Tech when he was there. I went to camps. Me and Charlie Brewer [Baylor’s starting quarterback] used to go and Neal would take us down to the stadium. It would be just me and him throwing and Coach Brown would be evaluating just us two.

“I had a relationship with Neal, so he told me to come on up here and visit and I fell in love with it and I committed. And now I’m ready to go.”

The rest is Mountaineer history.

Doege played in the final four games of WVU’s 2019 season, starting three, which led to him winning the starting job for the 2020 campaign.

And this week?

Well, it doesn’t hurt any that Doege passed for 307 yards and a touchdown in WVU’s 20-13 loss to the Cowboys late last season in Morgantown.

“Definitely,” said Doege. “I think they haven’t changed a whole lot. They have 10 out of 11 starters coming back [on defense], so I don’t think they are really going to do anything really different than they did last year.

“So it helps me having played them last year. Hopefully it will be a different outcome this year.”

See? Doege turned into a WVU fan after all.