Rex Sunahara recently starred in a social media video for the West Virginia University athletic department in which he did “man on the street” interviews with fellow students on campus.
During the video, Sunahara tells the students that he is a student-athlete but asks them to guess what sport he plays. The video is funny, but nobody knew who the Mountaineer long-snapper was. That, however, could be about to change.
Sunahara might not be a star in the traditional sense for the Mountaineers, but he has quietly had a very good senior season. First-year West Virginia coach Neal Brown has noticed, and apparently so have professional scouts — several of whom are sure to be in the building when WVU visits TCU on Friday in the Mountaineers’ season finale (4:15 on ESPN).
“He’s actually one of the top pro prospects we have on our team,” Brown said.
A three-sport start during high school in Ohio, Sunahara began his collegiate career as a basketball player at Rhode Island. He left after one season to join the football team at WVU, where his father Reed Sunahara is the volleyball coach.
Sunahara, listed at 6-foot-6 and 242 pounds, sat out the 2016 season as a redshirt after transferring, then played in one game as a sophomore in 2017. Last season, he played in 12 games and was West Virginia’s primary long snapper. This season, he has maintained that role but also really impressed Brown with his athleticism after the snaps.
“The thing Rex does does that’s different is he really runs well,” Brown said. “Two weeks ago — I haven’t looked yet this week because we are scrambled because it’s a short week — he was our leading tackler on the punt team.
“That speaks to his athleticism. We’re able to do some things on our punt team because of his athleticism that other teams can’t do. He has been extremely consistent. He’s going to play in an offseason all-star game. He’s got a chance, even though there are only 32 of them in the NFL, he’s got a chance to do it post-college.”
Brown said the Mountaineers have been using Sunahara in a more aggressive role in West Virginia’s punt coverage, and that has helped make him another thing for the opposition to think about in high-stakes situations.
“We’ve used him in a different role than people traditionally use their center on the punt team. People are now trying to block him. He’s been a weapon for us. He will be missed.”
RAINES TO PITT?
West Virginia redshirt freshman safety Kwantel Raines entered his name into the transfer portal on Tuesday after Brown alluded to that possibility during his Monday press conference.
“He is trying to figure out what he wants to do,” Brown said. “I haven’t talked to him yet.”
247Sports broke the news of Raines’ intent to leave the Mountaineers on Tuesday, and later in the day Raines gave an interview to Pittsburgh Sports Now.
“This decision to transfer was very hard,” Raines said to PSN’s Mike Vukovcan. “I was there for two years and I really liked it there, but I felt it was time to go.”
Raines said he left WVU because of “things going on at home.” The Aliquippa, Pennsylvania native also said he had reached out to a school closer to his hometown than Morgantown for a possible landing spot.
“I reached out to Pitt already and if they reach back out to me and have interest, there’s a good chance that I’ll be there, but you never know if schools want you yet so we’ll see,” Raines said. “So I guess it’s all in their ballpark right now. That’s the only school that I’ve contacted, although I’ve had some schools reach out to me.
“It would be a blessing if they would offer me again but honestly, I’ve always treated every offer that I received as a blessing.”