Eger set to make first start at center for WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia's Pat Eger is always the center of attention.
With shoulder-length blond hair that crowns a 6-foot-5, 275-pound body, it would be hard for him to hide.
Throughout his time at West Virginia, the Thomas Jefferson graduate was a utility offensive lineman, playing guard and center. But now Eger's position matches his personality as he becomes the team's center for Saturday's noon home game against winless Georgia State.
It's something they told him to prepare for following last season's Pinstripe Bowl loss to Syracuse. An injury in the spring kept him from preparing and forced the coaching staff to move redshirt freshman Tyler Orlosky there.
While Orlosky became the starter, he was facing a lot of obstacles, including a nose guard from Oklahoma last week who stood 6-6 and weighed 325.
“Tyler (Orlosky) will be fine. He's a redshirt freshman. He's a little undersized,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “The guy he went against was a good player. He physically got outmanned a little bit. On one of those fumbles, he got lit up a bit. He's not hurt. He'll play.”
Eger, who replaced him against Oklahoma, will start at center for the first time after 18 starts at right tackle and one at guard.
“At center, Pat has been playing really well, as good as I've seen him play. He's one of the few very vocal leaders we have on offense,” Holgorsen said. “He deserves to start.”
Eger said he is ready for the challenge.
“I had never played center until this past spring,” he said. “Coming off of ankle surgery last season and rehabbing that and then making it halfway through spring and hurting my other ankle, it was rough mentally. I pushed through that and got in treatment rooms as many times as I could a day. As summer and the season came around, I was 100 percent ready to go.”
It is difficult to understand playing center — from making the calls to snapping to blocking.
“The whole snapping the ball took me a while to grasp,” he said. “Now I have to snap it with someone 2 inches from my face, firing off the ball trying to kill me. That took a little adjusting. After a couple of weeks went by, you started to get more comfortable with it. It becomes second nature, a part of your rhythmic nature.”
During the spring, Joey Madsen, who had centered at WVU for four years, returned to help him, and Eger has taken it upon himself to work with the young players on this year's line to pass along his knowledge.
“We do have some young kids, and anytime I can help get them up to speed or teach them defenses, I like to do that. I had guys like Madsen, Jeff Braun, Don Barclay and Josh Jenkins teaching me the ins and outs of playing offensive line,” Eger said. “I feel like that's part of the process. You pass that knowledge onto the young guys.”
Bob Hertzel is a freelance writer.