WVU still the place for McKeesport's Christian
The dismissal of longtime West Virginia football assistant Steve Dunlap almost prompted McKeesport linebacker Hodari Christian to attend another school.
Dunlap, responsible for high school recruiting in Western Pennsylvania, won't return to Morgantown for the 2013 season. After some soul searching, Christian will honor his commitment and enroll at West Virginia on Monday.
“Steve Dunlap was one of the greatest guys in college football to deal with. He had a lot of respect throughout our building and was well thought of. To be let go was a major disappointment to a lot of us,”' said former McKeesport coach Jim Ward, who resigned in December. “More than anything, Hodari was hurt initially that the guy that was going to be his position coach — who recruited him — wasn't going to be there any longer.”
Ward said Christian, who selected West Virginia over Pitt, Boston College, Illinois and Northwestern, spent a couple of days considering his options.
“There were discussions,” Ward said. “But we found out that's the place he wanted to be. You don't want to go to a school for a coach. You want to go to a school where you can see yourself being a student if you don't play football. That seemed to be the place for him in that regard.”
Ward expressed concern about who will assume Dunlap's role in recruiting the region. No replacement has been announced for Dunlap, who was assistant head coach in charge of outside linebackers and special teams coordinator.
Dunlap, a former WVU linebacker who coached 22 seasons over two stints at his alma mater — took over recruiting Western Pennsylvania in 2011.
Incoming WVU running back DeShawn Coleman also was recruited by Dunlap. Recently, the Mountaineers lost out on another local recruit when Clairton's Tyler Boyd selected Pitt.
“West Virginia is an alternative here. It's a viable place for kids if things don't work out at Pitt,” Ward said. “It remains to be seen without Steve Dunlap how well they'll do at West Virginia because I don't know if Western Pennsylvania is still the focus. Obviously, there's a lot that remains to be seen until they figure out what's best.”