This weekly thread is therapy. Focusing on only the positives gives a calming feeling and helps me look at the bright side of things. And that is important nowadays. The evolution of the coaching carousel should make everyone pause and shudder. Historic and wealthy programs have shown their limits – there are none, and that scares me. It scares me, because it shows how much money has power in today’s version of college football: NIL, conference realignment, and now coaching hires. The NCAA has always been influenced by money, but there were certain checks and balances that organically fell into place. Top coaches would build a program and stay there; they knew things weren’t a given, and other programs couldn’t or wouldn’t pony up the cash to buy them out of their comfort zones. Unfortunately now, there will never again be a Paterno, Bowden, Saban, Switzer, or Bryant. Coaches are mercenaries now.
However, they can’t take away Mountaineer culture and pride. Our fan base rallies around our teams and players. The Mountaineers ARE the “professional” sports teams in West Virginia. The players who pass through will always be the driving force behind our fans energy, whether positive or negative. Many will leave as superstars, always to be remembered and recognized any time they step foot on campus. There aren’t many other universities out there that can say that.
And with that, I give you this week’s Magnificent Mountaineers for the week ending November 28th:
- Daryl Porter Jr., RS Freshman Cornerback (Football) – I gave the seniors this spot last week, so I felt I had to go somewhere else. Of course, it’s hard to overlook Leddie Brown (19 for 156 and a TD) and Josh Chandler-Semedo (8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 hurry, and 2 interceptions) here, but I want to focus on the future for a little bit. I could also put Tony Mathis Jr. here as well, but as an offensive player, it’s easy to see how good he was on Sunday. And I feel like we don’t talk about Daryl Porter Jr. enough. Porter didn’t play much last year during the COVID shortened season, seeing action in only 6 games. However, with the departures of Dreshun Miller and Tykee Smith, Porter had an opportunity to greatly increase his playing time. He earned a starting spot coming into the season, and he has impressed all season long. In coverage, he has developed into an almost shutdown corner; he’s always in the right spots and has shown the ability to put himself in the right place to break up passes and make things hard for the receiver. He has also been solid as a run defender, especially for someone his size (5’10” 185 pounds). He was rock-steady again against the Jayhawks, notching 5 tackles and 2 pass deflections. Additionally, Porter seemed to always be the defensive back around the ball when a ball hit the dirt, further showing how difficult he makes lives for receivers. After Miller and Smith left, I wondered how long it would be before we brought in another corner that is capable of shadowing the opposition’s best target, but with Porter, I’m confident we have that guy on the roster right now.
- Taz Sherman, Super Senior Guard (Basketball) – I try to avoid putting in the top players in these summaries as I think it is good to show off some names we don’t talk about often. However, Taz Sherman almost singlehandedly helped WVU win a close game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on November 26th. WVU trailed for most of the game, struggling to keep up with the Colonels hot hand from 3-point land, but Taz was the answer. He put up a career high 28 points on 53% shooting to go with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal, including 17 of WVUs 42 points in the 2nd half. I think Taz Sherman has the best offensive game WVU has seen in a while; he’s crafty, creative, and knows how to get to his spots. Performances like this are likely to be the new norm for Sherman going forward.
- The WVU Women’s Volleyball team – Stealing a trend from last week, I’m going to include a whole group here. This recognition less because of an individual performance, and more due to a cumulative performance that is changing the long-term outlook of Women’s Volleyball program. The Women’s Volleyball team had a special year this year, starting off 10-0 before ending the season with a 19-9 record, good enough for 3rd in the Big 12. This got them a berth to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid, which is the first time in WVU history that the team has made the Tournament. The Mountaineers are led by a trio of seniors: Briana Lynch, Adrian Ell, and Lacey Zerwas. Each of these young women were also named to the Big 12 All-Conference team, with Lynch and Ell making First Team and Zerwas making Second Team. The Mountaineers will face Illinois in the first round of the Tournament on December 3rd with their eyes on a deep tournament run.
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