MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Whether he is West Virginia’s quarterback of the future or its leadoff hitter, Trey Lowe is devoting spring semester to building the foundations for both.
At times, it’s exhausting.
After spending last weekend with the Mountaineers baseball team in South Carolina, Lowe was excused from a Monday quarterbacks meeting but showed up anyway.
“He wants to do everything. He’s such an eager kid,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “I told him ‘You don’t need to come in to the office,’ but he comes in and he looks like he’s running on empty. So we sent him home.”
A December high school graduate from Collierville, Tenn., Lowe has cannonballed into a demanding college schedule. He chose West Virginia partly based on the chance to play two sports. The fact he’ll likely be redshirting for both teams grants him time to develop, while forcing Lowe to be become adept at time management.
“For a kid to do it, he’s got to have a strong will and a great work ethic, and Trey’s a remarkable young man,” Spavital said.
“He’s up early, he’s in bed early, he’s doing his study hall hours and his tutoring, hitting his classes. At night he’s hitting in the cage, and during the day he’s meeting with us.”
During Tuesday’s first session of spring practice, Lowe joined Will Grier and Jack Allison in the quarterback rotation. Spavital immediately tested the early enrollee, who wields the kind a football I.Q. you’d expect from the son of coach and grandson of former NFL star.
“He’s a very cerebral kid, and he can sit there and tell me what to do on every single play,” Spavital said. “But It’s a lot different when you throw him out there and make him operate it under a 25-second or 40-second clock. That’s sort of his learning curve, to speed it up. We threw him into the fire.”
Head coach Dana Holgorsen joked that the football program needs to remind baseball coach Randy Mazey “who pays the bills. In reality it was Spavital who approached Mazey during the recruiting cycle when 6-foot-2 Lowe stipulated a desire to continue playing both sports.
“Once Mazey got a look at him, he said, ‘Man, the potential is there,’ so hopefully he can help both teams,” Spavital said. “Coach Mazey does a good job of working with us to make sure we don’t run the kid in the ground.”
Holgorsen suggested he would allow Lowe to miss football practice if he’s going to be used in a baseball game. Right now, the freshman is trying to catch up to major-college pitching.
Other Big 12 quarterbacks have made the two-sport lifestyle work.
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, the heir apparent to Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, has started five games for the baseball Sooners this spring. Former Texas Tech record-setting passer Patrick Mahomes pitched for two years in college before becoming a first-round NFL pick.
Holgorsen insists Lowe is “pretty important to our future here,” though with Grier gearing up for a run at an All-American season, there’s less urgency. The depth of his role could change if Lowe outduels the sophomore Allison for the backup job.
At 6-foot-5 Allison is a pocket passer who’s now eligible after transferring from Miami last season. Lowe features a different skill set, ranked by Rivals as the nation’s No. 21 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2018.
“He’s our scholarship, so his first priority is gong to be with us in football,” Spavital said. “But I like to give these kids the opportunity to do both. It comes down to, what are they willing to do?
“If you’re going to take away from football meeting time, you’ve got to catch up somehow if you want to be a guy. The more time Trey puts into football, the better chance he has of being that second guy (behind Grier). You kind of put that on him and he’ll balance it out.”