All eyes are naturally drawn to Pat Eger when he walks into a room,
First off, at 6-foot, 6-inches and 302 pounds, he fills the doorway completely.
Toss in blond hair that hangs down almost to his shoulders, although on this day he has it pinned up, and he has to be the center of attention as the West Virginia University Mountaineer players are meeting the media for the first time this spring.
And what could be more fitting than him being the center of attention, for this spring it is exactly what he is as the Mountaineers take a week off from practice for spring break.
It wasn’t long after the Pinstripe Bowl disaster that offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh approached Eger with a thought.
“Pat,” he said, “I might need you to play center this year, and we’re going to need you to start taking snaps in the 7-on-7s.”
For the last few years WVU was solid at center with Joey Madsen there, a player good enough there is talk he’ll wind up being drafted by an NFL team after being invited to the combine.
Madsen is gone now and, to be honest, no one has been groomed to take his place, hence the thought that maybe Eger can handle it.
A tackle last year, Eger was moved because tackle is a position of strength on the offensive line, while Eger has shown a great deal of versatility over his career.
“I’m ready to play center,” he said. “Wherever, if Coach Crook says play left tackle or if he says play right guard, I’m ready to play. I’ve played everything but center in my five years. Who knows? I might snap it to myself, throw it, run down the field and catch it.”
That play probably will not be put into the playbook, but the experiment of moving Eger to center rather than trying to rely on a newly recruited freshman is well under way.
And it hasn’t been easy.
See, because you can drive your Chevy down University Avenue doesn’t make you a NASCAR driver, and just because you can block as a guard or tackle doesn’t make you a center.
There’s this skill called snapping the ball involved, and so far Eger doesn’t have that mastered, not that anyone does when they first are moved there.
“It was rough,” Eger admitted. “The first day my snaps were all over the place. You’ve got to be able to snap the ball, punch with your off hand and step at the same time,” Eger said. “And you’ve got to do it while Shaq Rowell is drooling in his stance, ready to come off and smack you in the face.
“The steps and the snaps and the pad level were a little bit iffy the first day, but the goal is don’t make those same mistakes the next day.”
There is all this for Eger along with coming back from ankle surgery he underwent following the regular season, keeping him from being at full go as it is.
Eger does have something working for him in a big way. He is an intelligent player, and the center position is one that not only requires skill but it takes a strong mind to play, although Eger downplays that.
“You have to make the calls, of course, but when it comes down to it, it is everyone playing physical,” he said.
There is another matter complicating things, too, and that is the change in line coaches from Bill Bedenbaugh to Ron Crook, who has come from Stanford with some different techniques and philosophies.
This, however, is nothing new to Eger.
“I’m on my third offensive line coach right now. It’s been a blessing and a bad thing every time. I taken a little bit from Coach Dave Johnson, taken from Coach Bedenbaugh and now I’m taking from Coach Crook,” he said.
“At the end of the day, new coaches come in, and we work from there. There’s nothing you can do about it as a player.”
So, as you see, the transition is not an easy one.
But then no one ever said moving to center would be a snap.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
All eyes are naturally drawn to Pat Eger when he walks into a room,
Kicker sees second chances after gondola accident
Maikon Bonani knows all about second chances.
The native of Brazil is back with the Titans for a second year with the kicker job wide open for the taking, and he’s the only guy in training camp with any NFL experience if kicking in a preseason game counts.
Steelers sign Suisham through 2018 season
Shaun Suisham doesn’t seem to mind kicking at Heinz Field.
A healthy Trickett gives WVU chance to win
You might recall that Pat White’s career as West Virginia quarterback began when Adam Bednarik was injured in the Louisville game of White’s freshman year, opening the door for him to come on and lead one of the greatest comebacks in school history.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Lingering injury keeps Barber out as season begins
He was off on the sidelines on the first day of practice, where he’ll be for quite a while now, wearing the red jersey that signifies a player is unable to practice due to injury.
Post 17 makes short work of Wheeling to advance to nightcap
Post 17 Fairmont scattered 16 hits and plated double-digit runs in a 10-2 rout of Post 1 Wheeling Friday afternoon at Hawley Field.
WVU opens practice with different feel: VIDEOS AND PHOTOS
West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
Of course, he would note, “Everybody in the country has a good first day.”
But somehow, this was different.
Post 17 picks up much-needed win over Elkins
After a rather sloppy Area tournament, Post 17 Fairmont managed to turn things around Thursday afternoon at Hawley Field in Morgantown, staying alive with a 4-2 win over Elkins in the American Legion state baseball tournament.
While it’s usually hitting that gets Fairmont by, Thursday it was the pitching and the defense.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches
As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld what should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.
FURFARI COLUMN: Bobby Bowden won the bad-and-good battle with rival Lou Holtz
The recent announcement that West Virginia University is resuming a football relationship with North Carolina State triggered a most memorable bad-news, good-news battle.
It was between two legendary coaches, WVU’s Bobby Bowden and N.C. State’s Lou Holtz back there in the 1970s.
WVU basketball non-conference schedule released
After playing challenging schedules along with the tough Big 12 road, West Virginia University has backed off some this season on its non-conference schedule that was released Thursday.
West Virginia is coming off a 17-16 season in which it failed to reach the NCAA Tournament and lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NIT.
- More Sports Headlines
- Kicker sees second chances after gondola accident