High school ties bring WVU teammates closer
College Football Videos
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Call them the Miramar Mountaineers.
To the uninitiated, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith along with wide receivers Stedman Bailey, Ivan McCartney, Terrence Gourdine and Devonte Mathis are more than just teammates on a Top 25 college football team.
All five players attended Miramar High School in suburban Miami, which is about 1,100 miles from Morgantown but their home away from home.
Three players — Smith, voted the preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year; Bailey, who led WVU in receiving yards in 2011 and McCartney, who finished third on the team in receptions last year — are important members of the Mountaineers' potent offense, while Gourdine and Mathis are promising newcomers.
“It's kind of odd when you think about it,” Smith, a senior, said about five players attending the same high school in South Florida now playing together at West Virginia. “It's a culture shock — it's a different place to live. But as long as you're with your teammates and a lot of guys from your high school, it feels like you're right at home.”
Smith and Bailey both arrived in Morgantown in 2009. As a high school senior, Bailey caught 68 passes for 1,163 yards and 14 touchdowns. He and Smith were both named first-team all-state.
Two years later, as a redshirt freshman, Bailey was the Mountaineers' fourth-leading receiver and scored four touchdowns in Smith's first year as the starting quarterback. Last year, Smith set a school record for passing yards and touchdown passes, while Bailey set a school record for receiving yards and led WVU in touchdown catches.
“Me and Geno have been friends for almost forever,” Bailey said.
“We went to the same junior high school,” Smith said.
“When we made the move to come here,” Bailey said, “some of the younger guys at Miramar saw the success we had and I guess they just probably wanted to follow in our footsteps.”
Smith credits Miramar coach Damon Cogdell, a standout linebacker at WVU in 1997 and 1998, with establishing a pipeline from Miramar to Morgantown.
“It starts with coach Cogdell,” Smith said. “He filled us in on everything about West Virginia.”
WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson sees a correlation between Smith and Bailey being friends since they were young and their trust level on the field.
“They came from the same high school. They played ball together growing up. Obviously, that adds to the rapport they have,” Dawson said. “It's probably more positive when you think about the communication they have. When Stedman and Geno weren't on the same page, they had pretty candid comments about it. Their communication, because they've known each other for so long, you feel like you can be completely honest with each other.”
When Bailey predicted this year's offense is capable of scoring 50 points per game, Smith gave his teammate and longtime friend a good-natured ribbing.
“He's a wideout, man. I expect him to say that,” Smith said with a smile. “I like the confidence coming from him. I like that he's confident in me as the quarterback, and I like that he's confident in this offense. But 50 points a game? The only way it's going to happen is if we have the right mentality and mind-set to work hard every game and we don't take anyone lightly.”
Because of that familiarity, the Miramar players feel they can tell each other things other players on the team cannot. Smith, for example, continues to encourage McCartney to play at a higher level than he did last season.
“In order to be a great player, you've got to be consistently great,” Smith said. “He was one of the top guys coming out of high school, so he has the ability. He just has to use it on the field.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Virginia hopes to top unbeaten Kentucky with conditioning
- Morgantown police brace for ramifications of WVU upset
- WVU’s Huggins has seen Calipari’s act before
- WVU, Kentucky will not hesitate to go deep into bench during Sweet 16 matchup
- Mix of transfers, freshmen key WVU’s success
- West Virginia unconcerned with Big 12’s tourney woes
- Rossi: Hometown Mountaineer knows what’s important
- West Virginia, Buffalo coaches learned game from notable fathers
- Western New York natives at odds in WVU’s clash with Buffalo
- Rossi: Picking against the president
- WVU basketball notebook: Few fixes for frequency of fouls