The Times West Virginian

Sports

April 13, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU punter turns heads at linebacker

MORGANTOWN — They call him “Huey the Punter.”

His real name is Houstin Syvertson. His real position is not punter. Not anymore, anyway.

To be honest, until Saturday’s spring game, not many people following West Virginia football knew the name or the nickname. They know it now.

See, he is one of those stories that come out of spring practice that make it worthwhile. First, we have to let you know how we came to be aware of “Huey the Punter.”

The offense ran a sweep to its right and a defender wearing a No. 42 jersey came up to try and make the play. If you are squeamish, you might want to turn your head right now. Two blockers reached him at the same time and literally wiped him out.

It was right there in front of everyone. Grabbing a roster, we looked at it and it read “42 Houstin Syvertson P.” Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette said, “That can’t be him. No. 42 is a linebacker.”

I answered, “I think it is. Did you see the way they buried him? Looked like a punter to me.”

We even asked for some guidance, but none was to be had at that moment. A few plays later quarterback Skyler Howard went back to pass and was sacked. On top of him was No. 42, “Huey the Punter.”

By the time the game ended, “Huey the Punter” was “Syvertson the Linebacker,” finishing with two tackles and an assist.

What was going on here?

Turns out that Syvertson was Mr. Do Everything at Shady Side High a couple of years.

“I played a lot of positions. I went from linebacker to running back to receiver to defensive end. I went through all those. I picked up punting in ninth grade, did pretty good at that and got nationally ranked,” he explained.

He did all this to raise some interest in college programs.

“I had a bunch of opportunities to go to a bunch of schools like Robert Morris, Rutgers, some D II schools around West Virginia,” he said. “Then, they gave me an opportunity to come here and I took it.”

An opportunity, not a scholarship.

“I’m a West Virginia boy. I always watched West Virginia football. I loved West Virginia football. It’s three hours away from home. It was one of my dreams. I just wanted to be a Mountaineer,” he said.

His mind was made up.

“They told me they were recruiting me as an athlete and would see how I fit in the mix,” he said.

The way he fit was as a backup punter, but last year they gave him some shots on the scout team and he caught the coaching staff’s eye.

“Huey the Punter,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said when his sack was brought up. “He’s a great kid. We talked to him before spring ball started and said we think you have a role on this team on special teams and at linebacker. Come help us out. He’s gotten better every day.”

He got better every day because he worked at it … hard.

“I felt I had a better chance of getting on the field if I played linebacker and they threw me in there,” Syvertson said. “Last fall, during the season, I was on scout team, not really learning much about our plays. I got into the mix this spring and it’s going good right now.”

Good, indeed.

“I love the way he plays,” Gibson said. “He plays with a passion. He’s a kid from West Virginia and he loves it, knows what it’s all about. I’m proud of him. He had a couple of tackles today. He looked good.”

After the wipeout, of course.

“Eli Wellman and Dustin Garrison came up and smacked me good. But I still got the tackle after that, so that felt good,” he said.

It also taught him a lesson.

“It told me I need to keep on my feet and run harder,” he said.

And that’s just what he did when he sacked Howard.

“It felt awesome because QBs had been in gold jerseys all practices and we weren’t allowed to touch them, so that felt really good,” he said. He acted the part, too, flexing his muscles as the crowd roared. “I didn’t hear anything. I was kind of toned out. The adrenaline was pumping. I got a high 5 from all my teammates, so that felt great.”

And that’s the perfect way for spring practice to end.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting

    West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
    Both teams will receive $2.5 million for the game and have a chance to earn up to $3.2 million with ticket incentives.
    Each team will buy 12,500 tickets and set aside 2,000 of its allotment for students.
    The game, played on the home field of the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, is being put on by the Charlotte Sports Federation.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Fleming, Billy.jpg WVU’s Fleming signs contract with Yankees

     Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
    “Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Fleming said. “It is still surreal that I get to chase my dream, but I am ready to get after it. I loved my three years at WVU and want to thank all the coaches that made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Growing demands on college athletes concerns Wyant

    Fred Wyant, one of the greatest quarterbacks in West Virginia University’s history, has lashed out at today’s growing demands on college athletes.
    The 80-year-old Star City resident led the Mountaineers to a 30-4 record as the starter from 1952-1955. Percentage-wise, it’s clearly the best-ever record by a QB in school annals.
    Wyant, a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, came here after graduating with honors from Weston High School. That’s where WVU coach Art “Pappy” Lewis signed him to a four-year scholarship.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time.jpg Texas’ Strong prefers not talking about national title

    Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game.
    The new coach toned down his honest assessment in future stops, then said Tuesday in his first appearance at Big 12 media days that he prefers not even talking about championships.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NMHS hopes new playing surface generates excitement

    The St. Louis Rams coined the nickname “The Greatest Show on Turf” for their collective group or multiple Hall of Famer-caliber players in during the 1999-2001 seasons. If Rams can run on turf, why not Huskies? 

    July 22, 2014

  • FSU's Barfield, Jean-Charles named preseason All-Americans

    Chris Barfield and Jacob Jean-Charles earn preseason honors by being named to the USA College Football Division II Preseason All-American team.

    July 21, 2014

  • Baylor coach isn't buying schedule strength argument

    The College Football Playoff committee has vowed that strength of schedule will be a major criteria when selecting the four teams.

    July 21, 2014

  • Big 12 Commissioner says cheating pays

    Big 12 Commissioner says the NCAA lacks the resources to enforce its rules and that has to change.

    July 21, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos