I have heard the question over and over again why Weirton Madonna graduate Connor Arlia decided to be a preferred walk-on at West Virginia University, rather than take his football talents to other schools that were recruiting him.
Because he can.
It's really that simple.
The young man wants to compete at the highest level. He wants to challenge himself. He wants to push himself. He wants to play football on the collegiate level and why not at a Division I program that is annually in the top 25?
He fits what new head coach Dana Holgorsen wants to do offensively.
Does that mean he's going to suit up and see time?
But, I like his chances in the future.
Arlia was also given an early invitation to camp after his brilliant performance in the North-South all-star game recently at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field.
It doesn't matter than he has come from a West Virginia Class A school.
It doesn't matter than he is smaller that most of the players surrounding him.
It matters what's inside and that is a whole lot of heart, work ethic, talent and faith in God.
This is obviously a kid who is not afraid to fail.
This is not to say anything of other players who choose different football avenues.
All young men must do what they think is in their best interest when choosing to play college football.
He just had a really good first week of practice and now needs to do better this week.
Not going to those other schools does not mean Arlia thought he was better than their programs.
It just means they weren't WVU.
I took my son to watch the Blue Dons in the West Virginia Class A state championship basketball game in March. As I was taking my seat along press row during warm-ups, Arlia saw me, sprinted over and shook my hand.
When we see each other or talk on the phone, he always asks about my son.
"If there's ever anything I can do for him, please let me know," he has said on more than one occasion.
This is not coming from a young man trying to suck up so he can get in the newspaper. In fact, I would venture a guess he would rather not have me print that.
But, as my volleyball and basketball players have heard me say a lot, "I don't care."
He's a class young man.
It's been a pleasure to watch many of these young men and women grow and grow up since I first sat in this seat In Oct. 2005.
I am a big proponent of kids.
I am a bigger proponent of kids who do it right.
He is one of them who does it right, on and off the field, in and out of the classroom.
He's not afraid to push his mind.
He's not afraid to push his body to new limits daily.
And, that's what he is doing as a member of the WVU football program.
I fully expect to see him in action one day donning the gold-and-blue.
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
- John 20:24-29
No one should be surprised the Pirates received one all-star game berth - Joel Hanrahan.
Stop with the Kevin Correia talk. Yes, he has won 11 games, but do it more than one time in a row and you'll be recognized. There is a reason why the 2-14 teams are not on Monday Night Football the next season.
Although, why Andrew McCutchen is not one of the final five in the online voting is a head scratcher. He is, quite simply, a stud.
Pittsburgh is 0 for 8 in trying to get three games over .500, with another chance coming in today's 1:35 p.m. home game with Houston at PNC Park.
The Pirates are 43-41 and no one saw that coming.
Here is how far Pittsburgh has come in six months - manager Clint Hurdle was on the Jim Rome radio show recently. I never remember John Russell on that show.
I listened as Hurdle said he asked Bob Nutting, Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly tough questions in the interview process. He said he obviously got the answers he wanted because Hurdle left a good job as hitting instructor with Texas to head east and lead an organization that hasn't had a winning season since the Mall of America was constructed, NAFTA was signed and Sister Act was on the big screen.
But, there Hurdle sits, 1 games out of first place.
The same Pirates who won 17 road games last year have won 24 this season. The same Pirates who are one game under .500 in the friendly confined of beautiful PNC Park, are three games over the mark on the road.
The same Pirates have a huge six-game homestand beginning today.
That was last said in 1997.
Here's the biggest difference that I see.
In years past you knew the Bucs were going on some double-digit losing streak during the year and there was never a chance they would sniff a double-digit winning streak.
That is no longer the case.
As the United States celebrates its 235th birthday today, would the Founding Fathers recognize this country?
And I am not just talking about the population growth from 2.5 million people to 311.7 million.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)