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Sowers gives his word to West Virginia

July 03, 2004|By DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Martinsburg High School quarterback Nate Sowers could have waited until 2005 to decide where he will continue his football career after his upcoming senior season.

But as Bulldogs coach David Walker said Thursday, "he knew where he wanted to go, and there was no need to wait."

Sowers verbally committed to West Virginia University earlier this week, making the decision a few days after leading Martinsburg to a fourth-place finish in a 7-on-7 passing camp on the campus.

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While the verbal agreement isn't set in stone ? Sowers can back out if he wants, and must wait until February to sign a letter-of-intent ? it's unlikely he'll change his mind, especially considering the Mountaineers intend to keep him at quarterback.

"There were some schools ? Pitt, Penn State, Maryland, Nebraska ? all interested in him at safety, but his heart tells him he wants to play quarterback," Walker said. "That's what he wants to do, and I think he has the ability to do that."

Sowers finished second to teammate and WVU recruit Brandon Barrett in the voting for the 2003 Kennedy Award, given annually to West Virginia's top high school football player. Sowers passed for 3,230 yards and 48 touchdowns as a junior and ran for another 583 yards.

"Anyone that's seen us play the last two years knows the ability he has," Walker said. "As great a job as Brandon did for us, Nate was really the key for our success. You have to have a trigger-man to get you the ball, and that's been Nate."

Sowers stepped into the Bulldogs' starting lineup as a sophomore ? replacing Joey Yurish, who led Martinsburg to the Class AAA state final in 2001 ? and the team didn't miss a beat as Sowers guided the Bulldogs to the state semifinals in 2002 and the championship game last year.

"I knew when he was an eighth-grader, and maybe before, that he was going to be a great player," Walker said. "We felt going into his sophomore year with the abilities he had, we'd be able to open things up more. He has a great arm and he can run, so that gave us the opportunity do some things and it worked out well for us.

"He's got a presence about him. He's a natural leader, and he's got all the tools he needs to be a great quarterback. He'll do anything you ask him to do."

Sowers watched as Barrett dealt with speculation about which college he would sign with throughout his senior season. It's possible that experience aided in Sowers' decision to commit early.

"I think you save yourself by committing if you know where you want to go," Walker said. "It's better to get it over with. It saves a lot of phone calls and a lot of hassle in the fall. That way, he takes the pressure off himself and he can concentrate on having a great senior season."

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