Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

Mario Alford is one of four West Virginia players who played their high school football in the Atlanta area.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — During his last trip to the Georgia Dome, Jeremy Tyler stood out among the waves of Division I talent by making an interception in the 2012 Georgia High School all-star game.

So if he picks off a pass against No. 2 Alabama on Saturday, the West Virginia safety joked, “It won’t be any big deal, because I’ve been there before.”

MetroNews file photo

West Virginia sophomore safety Jeremy Tyler (24) starred at MLK High School in Lithonia, Ga., about a 20-minute drive from the Georgia Dome.

Tyler is one of four Georgia natives on the Mountaineers roster—all of whom attended high school within an hour’s drive of the dome and all of whom figure to carry crucial responsibilities in the season opener.

Senior Mario Alford is starting at outside receiver, junior linebacker Edward Muldrow shapes up as one of the team’s top pass-rushers, and John DePalma’s long snaps will trigger punts and field-goal attempts.

Then there’s Tyler, a promising sophomore who’s battling promising freshman Dravon Henry for the starting assignment at free safety.

“When Saturday comes I just want to be out there with my teammates and ball for them,” he said.

Tyler admitted this week he was still trying to procure enough tickets for family and friends in the Atlanta area. Whatever the size of his contingent, he anticipates a memorable day.

“To open up with your first game in your home state and with your family there supporting you, it’s going to to be great feeling,” Tyler said. “I’m just going to have to have sidetrack all the distractions and stay focused on my tasks.”

Despite uncertainties at quarterback, Alabama’s offense is flush with experienced skill players. WVU might not face a more competent group of receivers this season, and even that position takes a backseat to the Crimson Tide’s vaunted trio of running backs.

For a player like Tyler—returning home to the prideful, boastful, at times unbearable heart of SEC country—the matchup presents a proving ground.

“Coming into West Virginia I had a lot of SEC offers,” he said. “So that’s like a monkey on my back, to show them I can play anywhere I go.”

Alford can empathize. Exceptional speed won him a state championship in the 100 meters, but as a 5-foot-10 quarterback on his high school team, Alford wasn’t fully showcased to recruiters. He also was late qualifying, which led SEC coaches to delay their offers. By the time his grades and test scores were approved, he had enrolled at Georgia Military College.

Now, after two years at the junior college level and one breakout season at West Virginia, Alford gets a shot to unleash his speed against one of the SEC’s most heralded defenses.

“They’re known for winning championships and they’ve got that big name, so everybody’s like ‘Whoa, you’re playing Alabama.’ But I really think it’s young to be a great game,” Alford said.

“We’ve just got to line up and do it. I guess they’re inexperienced at corners a little bit. I’m not talking bad about no one, but I just feel like I can take advantage of it and do what I do.”

Like Alford, Tyler sounds tired of hearing about WVU entering as a 26-point underdog:

“I think the world has counted us out, and I just want us to show that we’re really a great team.”

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  • Billy

    I read on one major network that the only thing intriguing about the WVU Bama game was how the Bama quarterback battle would go and which one would win the job.

  • Holgie

    If you to the Wall Street Journal (Thursday 8/28) "Personal Journal" Section. There is an article titled "The College Football Grid of Shame". WVU seems to have faired fairly well.

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    I wonder how many betters lost their shirts on South Carolina!!!!!

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    I wonder, how many betters lost their shirts on South Carolina!!!!!!!!!

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    I know we can win this game. We do have to play all four quarters though.
    No one needs to win all by themselves.
    Lets goooooo TEAM!!!!!


  • any major dude

    Vegas does not have a group of college football experts sitting around setting odds. Their odds are determined by the bettors, then how they can make money based on the bettors. Should we be suprised then, when the bettors think the Tide will, well...roll? They're betting on Alabama, and many if these bettors don't know much about us beyond last year's record.

  • jay zoom

    (country roads) you might have joined Hoppy in the tasting of the recipe. Alabama could walk off the field and it would still take wvu 3 plays to score a touchdown. I believe Maryland will beat them Towson has a good chance based on last years performance THANKS OLLIE big 12 my butt

  • Tim C

    Step it up, guys. You can do it! Go EERs!

  • Harpers Ferry

    Current Vegas lines have Alabama giving 27. That's a sucker bet. This is one game where u should pick WVU. Alabama wins by 22.

    • O Osbourne

      Yeah, fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me.....

  • DimonDave

    Disa heer isa da wun an onwee dimon dave agin. iza kumin at yerns ta wet yee noz dat uh dem dar mounteers iza forgin ye ol pathaway ter victoree!!!

    iza saaz hitz em wiz uh judee chopz...kikem wiza woun fwip uh fu ningee starz atz dem dar bammee rowskalz.

    tin fur.... anna eyza kach ye ona fwip sidz.

    Disa dimon dave en ima outza heer!!!!

    wetz gwo mounteers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hop'sHip

      Makes better sense than the Get A Life comment.

    • Harpers Ferry

      Thanks Jar-Jar

  • Country Roads

    WVU 47 Alabama 42.......WVU 7 and 5.....WVU will bet Alabama, Townsend, Maryland, Oklahoma, TCU, Kansas, Iowa St....Could be better.....This is what I would bet on 7 and 5 for sure....With 7 wins I will see you all at a bowl game....

  • Harpers Ferry

    ATL may be home sweet home for some Mountaineers, BUT, Morgantown, and the STATE of West Virginia, will NOT be home for the Mountaineer Football team until we have a homosexual player on our team! I refuse to follow this team until WVU has a homosexual on the team. Homosexuals are not distractions! Holgerson should make it a priority to recruit homosexual players!

    • Sick'em

      That's one eastern panhandle freak!!!
      Really bro? Sis? Or whoever u r!!

      • Harpers Ferry

        Reel him in bro! I've trolled him!

        • Sick'em

          Make sure u got a good grip on the rod...u and william!!

        • pat

          Nice! But too easy. No one likes catching suckers lol.

  • Pudge

    Ah come on, WVU has a a few major upset victories. Why not one more?

    Nay-sayers say nay...

  • JimJim

    Bookies make a living by picking the winners. Fools lose their money by betting with their heart. I hope that you don't put to much money on this game.

    • john

      Bookies or linesmakers make a living on predicting a line that is going to have half the people betting on one team and the other half betting on the other team! If they can do that they make the 10 percent Vig from the losing bettors. Bookies don't pick teams JIMJIM, bettors do.

      • Harpers Ferry

        That makes no sense whatsoever

        • Tomgone12

          That is the way its done

    • In da stickes

      I'll take the points on this game and it has nothing to do with my love of WVU.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      Don't have no silver, don't have no gold, tell me that I'm free to ride, ride for many a mile.
      OH - Watch out! Keep from the Gallows cold.
      C'mon now - Yell out! yellout, yellout.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    WVU 38 Alabama 35