Football \ Baseball Mix For Trey Lowe?
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Trey Lowe well may be the quarterback of the future at West Virginia.
Or maybe the centerfielder of the future.
The top recruit out of Tennessee, son of Hall of Fame linebacker Woodrow Lowe out of Alabama, is currently splitting his time between WVU’s spring football and Mountaineer baseball.
And, rest assured, football coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t concerned about it at this point, Lowe being a freshman who probably will redshirt this season … but he knows the rules are that football is going to have to come first.
“We have to remind (baseball coach Randy) Mazey who pays the bills,” Holgorsen joked on Wednesday when the situation was brought up at his first spring practice media session. “If he doesn’t have anything going on, then he can go practice as much as he wants to, that’s fine with me.
“He’s done it his whole life, he’s been a multi-sport star, he’s a coach’s kid, he’s smart, he has great presence to him, he’s mature. He traveled with them to Myrtle Beach last weekend, and they played four games, I believe, and he didn’t play, so I think he’s a developmental guy for them, too.
“The way that works, if we have practice this weekend, then he’s probably going to be here practicing this weekend. If they are going to use him in a game, I may let him skip a practice in order for him to play in a game, and I’ve talked to Randy about this.”
And Mazey understands … what pays the bills in the WVU athletic department and just what an athlete like Lowe will mean to the football team.
“He’s pretty important to what our future is here,” Holgorsen said. “So there is an expectation of him — and he has, he sits in all the meetings and has a great attitude. He’s exactly what you want in a kid that really should actually be in high school.
This crossover is really nothing new.
Pat White, perhaps the greatest WVU quarterback ever, wanted to play baseball, toyed with the idea but didn’t feel comfortable when Greg Van Zant was coach. Had Mazey been coach, White almost certainly would have played on his team.
He was good enough to have been expected to be a high draft pick out of high school and wound up his athletic career playing minor league baseball
One of the big national news stories out of this spring training is Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, joining the New York Yankees for spring training in Tampa, Florida.
“Baseball has always been deep in my heart and deep in my veins,” he said. “It goes back to the foundation of who I am and where I’ve come from.”
He is not alone.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow is still trying to impress someone in minor league baseball.
Mixing football and baseball is nothing new.
All football/baseball players weren’t heavily weighted toward one-sport or the other.
It goes back to maybe the greatest athlete ever, Jim Thorpe, who was a football star at Carlisle College, won multiple Olympic gold medals and played in the NFL while also playing four major league baseball season.
Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball’s color line and went on to become a Hall of Fame player was a star in college at UCLA, leading the nation in punt returns in 1939 and 1940 while leading the Bruins in passing, rushing, scoring and punt returns in 1940, his senior year.
World Series hero Kirk Gibson was an All-American split end at Michigan State and only tried baseball because Spartans coach Darryl Rodgers told him he should.
And, of course, there was Neon Deion Sanders, who was an All-NFL football player who made the Hall of Fame. He could play baseball, too, putting together a 12-year career with the Yankees, Braves, Reds and Giants, batting .304 with 26 steals and 14 triples in 1992 and hitting .533 with five steals for Atlanta in that Fall’s World Series.
The best, tkhough, was Bo Jackson, who might have put together Hall of Fame careers in both sports were it not for a hip injury that put an end to his career.
He was the only player to be an All-Star in both sports.
And now West Virginia has Lowe and right from the start they have thrown him out there in spring football, he being one of only three quarterbacks in camp with incumbent Will Grier and transfer Jack Allison.
“We threw him in the fire yesterday,” said offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. “I think that’s how you have to go with quarterbacks. There’s a lot of things that quarterbacks have to go through.
Spavital has no doubt he can handle the whole load, including baseball.
“He’s a very cerebal kid. He’s smart, he’s a coach’s kid. He can sit there and tell me what to do on every single play, but it’s a lot different when you are out there and you throw him into the fire and trying to operate under a 25- or 40-second clock,” Spavital said.
“That’s his learning curve, trying to speed it up as fast a possible and understand it. The more reps you can get the better you will be.”
Spavital doesn’t want to do anything to stifle Lowe either in football or baseball.
“I look at it both ways. The thing that is amazing with the kid is he wants to do everything and I have to tell him he can’t. There was a time yesterday where he did the trip with the baseball team and I told him not to even show up here. We were meeting but he could catch up some other time.
“He came up there but he looked like he was running on ‘E’ so I had to send him home. He’s just a really eager kid who always wants to be a part of it.”
The best of all worlds would be to have Lowe concentrate fully on football, but the truth is spring practice covers six weeke and there are only 15 practices in that time.
“You’d like to have more time with him, but he’ll catch up. As time goes on he’ll get more comfortable with the whole scenario,” Spavital said. “With Will here, it’s not that demanding. You want him to come along because there is that back up spot behind Will he’s competing for, and he understands that. The more time he puts into football, the better chance he has of being that second guy.
“You kind of put that on him and he’ll balance it out. Coach Mazey does a good job of working with us to make sure we don’t run the kid in the ground.”
In the end, though, football will win out. After all, it pays the bills.