MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Even while touting the ballyard play-making ability of quarterback Skyler Howard, West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson couldn’t resist ribbing his undersized transfer.

“He’ll say he’s 6-foot, but whatever,” Dawson cracked.

Lucky for the 5-foot-11 Howard that height isn’t the overriding measurable to which Dawson prescribes. Otherwise West Virginia would not have become the first power-conference program to pitch a scholarship toward the Riverside (Calif.) City College freshman last fall. And Howard wouldn’t be preparing for an extended spring audition to become the Mountaineers’ quarterback.

MORE: WVU opens spring drills next Sunday.

Until last November, only New Mexico State and FCS doormat Northern Colorado had floated offers. Yet Howard, armed with the same self-assurance he carried when college recruiters ignored him coming out of high school in Fort Worth, felt he possessed Division I skills. What’s more, he was in the midst of a 3,000-yard juco season that proved it.

Across the continent in Morgantown, a funny bit of symmetry was transpiring when Dawson and WVU recruiting coordinator Ryan Dorchester independently perused game film from a specific pool of junior-college QB candidates. They evaluated guys who operated shotgun systems and were eligible to enroll midyear, and Howard came out No. 1 on both lists.

Soon Dawson was off to Riverside to make the dual-threat Howard an offer he wouldn’t refuse.

“I knew the offers he had,” Dawson said. “The ones that were listed, obviously we were going to beat them regardless. The ones that were showing interest in him—like Utah and Cal … I really wasn’t worried about the West Coast schools. He’s a Texas kid and he wanted to play in the Big 12.”

And for once, a Big 12 school wanted him.

No longer was Howard being eliminated simply on the basis of his non-ideal stature.

“Being 5-11, that hurts you,” Dawson admitted. “If it’s between that and a guy who’s 6-2, you’re going to go with the 6-2 guy.”

Yet as Dawson explained last week, he has long valued hand size over height when gauging a quarterback’s potential.

“Big hands mean you control the ball better,” he said. “So when I watch a quarterback throw, I look to see how far his hand stretches on the ball and where his pinky finger is on the laces.”

When Howard visited WVU in early December, Dawson took an opportunity to measure the prospect’s hands and came away encouraged. “I think his was 9-3/4 (inches) or 9-1/2, which is not bad,” the coach said. “Not bad at all for a 5-11 guy.”

As Dawson recounted this palm-reading episode, the measure-maniacs at the NFL combine were reveling in Johnny Manziel’s 9-7/8-inch mitts—atypically large for his 5-11 height. Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arian said hand size remains “something that is highly underrated” among evaluators, and noted quarterbacks guru George Whitfield Jr.—who tutored Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and a pre-Heisman Manziel—told The Cleveland Plain Dealer that prodigious paws are especially beneficial for passers dealing with inclement weather.

“I’ve been saying this stuff for a few years,” said Dawson, before adding with a chortle: “Maybe I’m not as dumb as people think I am.”

He certainly will seem smarter if Howard slings touchdown passes in Morgantown like he did at Riverside. Unlike recent quarterbacks Dawson and Dana Holgorsen have developed, Howard possesses dangerous speed and blitz-beating elusiveness.

“Are we going to add a lot of new plays that are going to allow him to run it? No. But is there flexibility within our offense for him to make plays with his feet? Hell yeah, there is,” Dawson said.

“Anytime the coverage is good, then extend the play. It’s hard for DBs to cover for four or five seconds. Skyler’s an athletic kid. A lot of his bigger plays (last year) were extended plays when he kept his eyes downfield.”

Eyes certainly will gravitate toward Howard this spring, in light of senior Clint Trickett rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Those extra reps during the next five weeks could make the newcomer competitive once the full assortment of quarterback contenders assemble in August.

Whatever the result of Howard’s transition, Dawson doesn’t think height will play a determining factor.

“The O-line spits are a little wider, which allow you to see a little better, and with the spacing of offenses it probably makes height less important than it has been in the past,” he said.

“The throwing has to be the easy part. The intangibles are what pushes you over the edge. Are you a winner? Are you a leader? How much do you care about playing quarterback?”

bubble graphic

75

bubble graphic

Comments

  • scott

    Lets goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Mountaineers!!!!!!

  • jay zoom

    Aaron i'm referring to the charge at basketball games. KeatonsCorner you are still drinking the recipe the only pleasant surprise were going to get is the battle cry at the end of the season is wait until next year.

  • orangeman

    i am tired of all the bickering,, please marsha trolls , go back south and play games with you mommy's thing and leave the intelligent work to us.

    • Troll

      Once again I repeat leave Marsha out of it, they might run crying to governor again which in turn could force us to whip their a## another 10, 11 or 12 times in a row.

  • daddyo

    Let's face it,, somewhere along the way, wvu developed a terrible reputation to the point at which, the ACC, big 10, and SEC would not even think seriously offering us an invite.
    NOw i 'm glad we're inthe big12 finanically, and not associated with the AAC.
    But how in the world can i get excited about playing iowa state cyclones, or kansas state, or TTU, or TCU, or even Kansas.
    they are all about ten thousand miles away, we have no history or rivals, and Pitt, of all teams , will have nothing to do with us.
    It was determined that Maryland was one school that blocked us for the ACC, maryland who is leaving to the big 10..
    so here we all , our athletic dept, in debt up to it's ears, and we still only draw a half pension from the big12..
    i gues we can always look to marsha and realize just how good we have it,, but marsha? the scum of the earth? well, enough is enough,, adios amigos

    • Troll

      Leave Marsha out of it, they might run crying to governor again which in turn could force us to whip their a## another 10, 11 or 12 times in a row.

    • KeatonsCorner

      Your lack of knowledge on the subject is rather impressive.......

  • EL Supremo

    It's pleasant to see Mountaineer fans excited. However, they continue to only see the positive hype from the Sports Information Office and the media that receive FREE tickets and refreshments during the games.

    All I ask is a reality check. Start with looking at the 2014 football schedule (give specific emphasis to the first eight games). Now select the winner of those eight games. I arrived at a record of 2 wins and 6 looses, which will make Holgorsen's winning percentage .500. I think the heat in November will too hot for Luck and Holgorsen.

    • Capt. Obvious

      The 2014 football schedule will be the best and most difficult schedule WVU has ever played and I like it, win or lose.

      Dana was left with a bare cupboard and ADOL understands this thus he won't throw the baby out with the bath water, El Myopico

  • KeatonsCorner

    My sources tell me there will be a record number of ticket sales for the upcoming WVU football season...

    Get yours early. Coach Dana Holgorsen has promised us that the WVU fans will be pleasantly surprised so purchase your tickets early for the best seating.

    Its a great day to be a Mountie!

    • John J

      your sources are wrong

    • daddyo

      the last i heard was that there are no season tickets remaining,,, sad to hear this and happy also. i have to agree and be satisfied with certain ,particular situations and concur that it maybe time for untimely patience with the results i have found.

      • Mister Man

        Your attempt to sound intellectual failed.

  • David Kennedy

    Did that Palm Reader have any ideas for a new Head Coach ??? Just wondering...

    • Tyrone

      you mean who is going to replace Doc down there in your neck of the woods I think . Arent you a Marshall fan

      • David Kennedy

        Marshall who?
        Actually, I'd like to see the Doctor come back home eventually to Morgantown.

        Sent one to WVU, one to Marshall and one to Colorado State...one more and I'm finished.

  • Dave

    Big hands, runs like a deer, sees and plays the field like Doug Flutie. I say the guy has a real good chance of becoming the guy this year.

  • Kathy Jeffords

    Your senior thesis at HHS, Larry?

  • ole sasquatch

    Ole Sasquatch has said from the beginning of watching the film on Skylar Howard he would be our QB. Forget the size of the hand - watch the feet. He moves like an elf that has a life or death enthusiasm to win! Our offensive line can be as bad as last year and he will still win games for us. Glad Richard & Coach Dawson see how special this guy is. I can't understand why more of you can't see this. Maybe it's because I've spent my whole life chasing game. Yes, he is another Doug Flutie.

    • richard

      well, he still needs an offensive line. i don't care how good he could be-----we need a 2 deep o-line!!

    • Alex

      @sasquatch like your post ...... I agree all the way. From what I've seen and heard I think this guy ( Howard )is going to be our next quarterback.

  • Aaron

    I think it shows the mentality of the posters when they claim a kid who's graduated in 3 years from one University and is at his second working on a Masters Degree and has started football games at both is "mentally challenged."

    • mad hatter

      i get my info from watching his actions on the field... he's totally lost when dana tries to send in a new play..no wonder dana is almost bald.
      this kid has issures.

    • Dave

      Not to mention he grew up around football his whole life,

    • mad hatter

      i uncur

  • jay zoom

    maybe this kid can use his palms to help Oliver luck collect $20.00 in the parking lots as Dana takes his practices across and up and down the state. (KeatonsCorner get your head out of the clouds. and come down to earth. Leave the recipe alone. evidently you have the mountaineers mixed up with another football team they will never win ten games as long as their are in the big 12 Holgs is coach and Oliver Luck is in the parking lot collecting $20.00.

    • Mister Man

      Yup. Their are in the Big 12.

    • JimJim

      What's your bet? Will Dana Dude wear black at those practices, or will he wear the WVU colors?

      • KeatonsCorner

        tisk tisk, Kinzer......... on the bottle already?

    • Aaron

      Your ignorance is showing. Parking hasn't been $20.00 at football for decades.

      You should be ashamed.

  • mad hatter

    Right now, Howard is really our best chance, possibly our only chance. Who knows if Clint heals and is 100 per cent.
    But whatever, Howard, given just a little time, would easily be a better pick than Clint. Clint never did figure out the signals Dana was sending to him. He was lost the entire season, sad, but Clint is mentally challenged.

    • Truthteller

      The mad hater does not get paid for his opinions and ideas. He also has no connection with the WVU athletic department. He has no communication with the coaching staff.
      So please do not take his blabbering as a real
      valid opinion of anything worthy of a pile of doggy
      do.

    • JimJim

      Is that Clint's fault??? Coaching helps.

    • GoEers

      hey what a surprise mad Hatter is bashing WVU's players again...what a sad human being you are sad hatter...if there is anyone that is mentally challenged it would certainly be you

      • KeatonsCorner

        One thing we don't do here is bash WVU players, coaches, staff, administration or team managers or school Janitors. Marshall fans however are open game. We just don't like them so we will continue to hate them till we die.

        This way we stay happy instead of sad.

        • daddyo

          ok, so is it alright to concur,,, pass the koolaid

    • WVOMG

      Trickett being hurt is probably the best thing that happened to this team...maybe another year he will be able to learn signals.

    • KeatonsCorner

      I totally disagree with your analysis and neither do I concur...

      • KeatonsCorner

        You are very observant hatter...

        Yesterday I was Aaron, today I am KeatonsCorner and GoEers.

        Tomorrow I may be steve or stevewvu or shawn or rtdeco or troll...who knows who I will be on Wednesday.

        It's what I am paid to do.

        • KeatonsCorner

          Weird is something I know something about...

          but I cannot decide if I want to stay with Dave, Aaron, The real KeatonsCorner, KeatonsCorner ll, GoEers....I confuse myself sometimes...

          Whoever I decide to be next, I love hearing myself and putting down Marshall trolls. Its what I am being paid to do.

          • daddyo

            i think aaron is the smartest of the bunch,, even though they're all the same, but aaron could probably beat out clint at the qb position, i got one hand signal that i bet aaron would understand

        • mad hatter

          and who cares

        • Dave

          Quite comical indeed.

        • The Real KeatonsCorner

          weird, watching someone talk to themselves over the internet

  • tw eagle

    I'm somewhat excited about our new QB's, but there's still a 'fly in the ointment. As an OC Holgerson could spend lots of time with the QB's to get them to understand his mumbo-jumbo hand gyrations ... as a HC at WVU it seems it has taken the QB's 18 months or more to be able to decipher his signals. The coaching staff might have signed a Superman to play QB, but it will take two seasons of football before we, as fans, might see him on the field of play because it will take that long to learn "the magic signals" to run the offense that only takes 3 days to master.

    The fly in the ointment ain't COMMUNICATION ... the fly in the ointment is a HC with an EGO PROBLEM !!!

    • WVOMG

      Really Geno didn't have a problem picking them up or the other 6 first time starting QBs who worked with DH before...Trickett sucks and doesn't have the desire to get better.

      • tw eagle

        smith paid little if no attention to what the HC wanted to run . . . ergo the almost losing out on the Orange bowl . . . taking a cue from the HC , the OB went well . . . .smiths last year sucked . . . PERIOD . . .HC had no choice , there was no one beides smith to play , except the freshman Millard . . . why broadcast a problem to your opponents . . .Trickett isn't your cup of tea , WHY ? your two criticisms are wrong . . . from your posts the only thing I can glean is that you don't prefer Trickett is because he's not black . . .

      • Aaron

        You know the young man and his work ethics personally? How in the world does one who has no desire to get better secure D1 Scholarships at not 1 but 2 major college football institutions?

        • scott

          exactly what i wondered about trickett all year...my guess is its his dad

        • Barry

          I like it when you defend WVU's players. You should try it with WVU's basketball players too.

          • Aaron

            I'm not defending anyone. I'm stating a fact. A young man who completes 120 or more course hours of college credit while participating in a time consuming sport is certainly not mentally challenged.

            The person making the accusation, or one who concurs with him now that's a different story.

        • mad hatter

          i guess you haven't noticed how desperate we are in the qb position.. I can tell you haven't watched us play this past yr.. you should, so that when you post, you might have some slight chance of knowing what you're talking about.

  • KeatonsCorner

    Obviously, the quarterback is the most important position on the field so the Mountaineers biggest concern heading into this season is finding one. Even though the young Mountaineer QB’s appear to have what it takes, it doesn’t mean it is going to equal a consistent, productive performance.

    Is Skylar Howard the real deal? I really don't think so...I still like Trickett as being the man. Inexperience at the QB position will, without question, cost WVU in the win column.

    The quarterback situation is potentially frightening. And then there is that Big 12 schedule. To call it brutal would be an understatement…but we will be good...very good. It also should not come as a surprise when WVU defeats Alabama in the Home opener.

    However under the leadership of the offensive Guru Dana, I look for us to win 10 games and play in a major Bowl.

    So be sure and secure your season Tickets early because my sources tell me they will be selling fast.

    • John J

      You are nutz, we will not win 10 games next year

      • KeatonsCorner

        Are you forgetting that coach Holgorsen stated in his press conference last week that the fans will be "pleasantly surprised"?

        My football knowledge translates that into 10 wins.

    • daddyo

      there is not more tickets to the jungle, Axel has bought them out and moved to a new venue

    • The Real KeatonsCorner

      I appreciate the fact that using my user name has sparked intelligent posts around here.

      Keep it up. I may not agree, but at leas your opinion is thought out.