MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Moving in silent desperation, keeping an eye on the Holy Land. A hypothetical destination, say, who is this walking man?
Well, it turns out the person James Taylor once sang about in 1974 might actually be West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen.
If you see someone wearing a white Flying WV visor walking briskly around campus these days who looks like Dana Holgorsen, it probably is Dana Holgorsen.
Instead of eating his lunch in the team meeting room, or having a noon staff meeting indoors, Holgorsen has taken his lunchtime on the road.
The course he has chosen meanders through parts of Suncrest near the stadium.
“It’s about 2 ½ miles,” Holgorsen said Wednesday. “It’s kind of fun. I go up around the Law School and then over by Dr. (Gordon) Gee’s house, over by the new dorms; I go by Daniel’s (clothing store), around the stadium and then up by the practice field.”
Holgorsen said he used to run it, but a bum foot has forced him to move on to the Senior Tour by turning his jog into a brisk walk.
He got the idea from watching a TED Talks video.
“Instead of going out to lunch and holding meetings over lunch or bringing food in, we just hold our meetings as we walk,” he explained.
“I may grab (football’s associate athletic director) Alex Hammond and they have been fairly therapeutic. We’re up to about five miles a day - two trips.”
Sometimes when he’s in a bad mood after practice he will just take off and go. So far, Holgorsen said the walks he’s taken have been more for exercise than therapy.
Last year, that wasn’t always the case.
“I do think it’s what got us through the year last year, though,” he joked. “There were some stressful times throughout the course of Aug. 1 until Jan. 1. It kept us somewhat sane.”
Occasionally, he will grab a player and ask him to take a walk with him to talk things over.
“It’s funny how these guys can go run like forever and ever and ever, but they can’t walk,” Holgorsen said. “They want to walk like a mile an hour and I’m like, ‘Come on man. I kind of consider this exercise, so let’s go!’”
Actually, Holgorsen was a little tardy for his scheduled noontime news conference with the media on Wednesday afternoon.
He was almost out the door, headed for his lunchtime jaunt, when he remembered his appointment with the media.
“I was like, ‘Uh-oh.’ I’m just glad I wasn’t halfway through over toward the President’s (residence) and Mike (Fragale) would have called me and I would have been in trouble,” he said.
Once Holgorsen was done speaking to reporters, he grabbed a couple of administrators and headed out the door ready to scale Law School Hill.
After all, the Walking Man walks.
* There was not much in the way of news from today’s press conference after just three days of practices, but Holgorsen did drop some noteworthy tidbits.
On the athleticism of this year’s defense, which must replace eight starters from last year’s unit: “They are pretty athletic,” he said. “The thing I like about where we are at is we have good leadership. We have a lot of experience.
“How are we going to replace eight starters on defense? Well, the same way we have for the last two years - with guys that have been in the program and with guys that know what to do. I said this on numerous occasions, I think our recruiting is continuously getting better with the type of bodies that we are bringing in now.”
Holgorsen was asked a follow-up question about the number of additional lean, athletic body types he has in the program right now.
“If you have guys with a specific skill set that is 5-8 or a guy with a specific skill set that is 6-2, everyone in the country is always going to take the 6-2 guy. Now, if the skill set doesn’t match up we have always been a program that doesn’t mind taking the 5-8 guy. That’s what I mean when I say recruiting has improved.
“The body types are a little different and the skill set is the same.”
* Holgorsen was asked what he remembered about sophomore offensive tackle Kelby Wickline
during his one year working with his father, Joe, at Oklahoma State.
Back then Kelby was just a young kid.
“He was a baseball player and he was rarely around the office,” Holgorsen said. “Every time I saw him he was carrying a baseball bat. I don’t even think he was playing football at the time. I know after I left, he went into high school and started playing (football) a little bit, but he was pretty ate up with baseball.”
Because Kelby was such a late bloomer, that’s one of the reasons his father sent him off to junior college for a year just to play football.
“It was good for him,” Holgorsen said. “He’ll keep getting better.”
* Finally, Holgorsen was coaxed into giving out some names of redshirted players that have caught his eye so far during camp.
In a moment of weakness, here is what he had to say, “(Brendan) Ferns has looked good. I’ve been really impressed with him. Jake Long
looks good to me. Dylan Tonkery
looks good to me. I consider (Martell) Pettaway that same guy. He played one game, unfortunately. He looks great; quick; patient.
“(Kennedy) McKoy looks good; I’m really excited about him … Josh Sills
has a chance to be a really good player for us this year. I’ll stop there.”
And he did.
* Media has a half-hour window to observe Wednesday evening’s practice. Assistant coaches will be available on Thursday at noontime, allowing Holgorsen an uninterrupted window to get in his afternoon walk.