- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
Just a few days ago, West Virginia was just a team in Chaz Whittaker’s final four.
On Monday, West Virginia became Chaz Whittaker’s future team.
Whittaker (Pittsburgh/Penn Hills), a two-star athlete, verbally committed to coach Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers late Monday, becoming the 19th member of the Mountaineers’ 20-commit 2012 class.
“I liked West Virginia a whole lot,” Whittaker said. “I liked the coaches, the campus.”
What sold Whittaker on West Virginia was not the coaches or campus but the gameday experience. Whittaker unofficially visited West Virginia for its primetime game against current No. 1 LSU.
“Honestly what made me commit ... was when they played LSU and I fell in love with the environment,” he said. “I didn’t expect that many people there. When I pulled up it was just packed, you couldn’t drive. The streets were packed with yellow Mountaineer shirts.”
Whittaker added that he always felt the Mountaineers staff had more of an interest in him than the other three schools that offered: Pittsburgh, Temple and Toledo. Holgorsen texted Whittaker about every week just to keep tabs on him, and assistants Steve Dunlap and Daron Roberts both stayed on top of Whittaker.
During the summer, Whittaker spent some time in Morgantown for a 7-on-7 competition. It was around that time the staff started putting the heat on Whitaker.
“They care about the athletes, especially the freshman,” he said. “[The 7 on 7] is when I got to talk to some of the coaches up there and they it made like they were interested in me becoming a part of the program and a part of the family.”
Whittaker will likely play safety in Morgantown, but he said Dunlap [safeties coach] and Roberts [receivers coach] are fighting over him.
Whittaker isn’t planning to completely shut down his commitment, though. He likely won’t visit the three other schools that have offered, but he has been talking with Cincinnati and Maryland a lot lately and could officially visit after his high school season.
“When the process started they were on me heavy, but then they fell off,” Whittaker said of Cincinnati and Maryland. “Then they heard I was getting love from other schools and they came back into the picture.”
Whittaker attended Maryland’s junior day and also camped there during the summer.
“I liked Maryland a lot,” he said. “I talked to Randy Edsall a couple times, mostly about my performance. He liked my safety performance when I was up there.”