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Devante Averette

The enthusiasm oozes out of Devante Averette, who answers questions with a burst of speed reminiscent of the rate at which he covers ground on the football field.

It doesn't take much to get Averette going. Just a couple of basic questions, and he pours out his thoughts at a rapid rate. There's intensity, earnestness and respect, all bundled up in a high energy package. Those qualities, of course, are ones that West Virginia's coaches hope to see on the football field next fall.

"I felt like West Virginia was the best fit for me," Averette said after deciding on the Mountaineer program. "With my versatility, I think I can help. I can zone blitz, rush, cover, and do everything that they need in that defense.

"I watched a lot of film when I was there on my visit, and I watch all of the games on the Internet," Averette continued. They said they see me at the spur, and it's a great playmaking spot. The Big 12 is such a pass-happy conference, I think I can do work there. I can get to the quarterback, and that was something that hurt West Virginia's defense a little bit last year. I think I can help out and do good there."

While a number of schools evaluated Averette, West Virginia was one that got in early on him and made an offer. That resonated with the defensive star, who played all over the field for Ellsworth during his initial season at the junior college.

"They are like a family there," he said of the West Virginia campus which he visited recently. "They are loyal, and that's important to me. That's the way I grew up and it's important to me and my family. The difference between West Virginia and the other schools is that they took a chance on me and they have faith in me. I'm a church-going guy, and having faith is important. They had it in me, and now I have faith in them too. They can make me a better player, and they can put in in position to get my degree."

Averette also connected quickly with defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who was his primary recruiter.

"We have a great time," he said of WVU's defensive boss. "He is a straight up type of guy. He said from the jump that he wouldn't tell me what I wanted to hear. He said he would tell me the way it is. I got a great vibe from him."

Patterson hopes to get the same sort of straightforward performance from Averette, who racked up 93 tackles at Ellsworth as a freshman. He had "just" four sacks, but part of that might have been due to the way he was slotted in the defense.

"They used me a lot of different ways," he said of the 2012 season. "I played defensive end, and I played outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and strong safety. I even played corner in the bowl game for a few plays. People say I am a freak athlete, but this year I will probably play a lot more outside linebacker. I am very good with man on man technique, and I want to work on my explosion and develop more moves. I know the players in the Big 12 will be much better, so I know have to elevate my game."

Averette didn't have a large number of offers, and believes that stems from questions about his academic performance. He was somewhat behind in terms of credits, but he fixed by earning 17 and 16 credits over his past two sessions, which put him back on track to graduate in December. That would leave him three years to play two at West Virginia, and also slot him as a December enrollee.

Averette isn't upset about the lack of offers, but is using the fact that many schools passed, or at least held off, from offering him a scholarship as motivation.

"A lot of schools were looking at me. They talked to me my coach, but it was sort of like they peeked in the window but didn't come in. I proved them wrong by passing all those classes, and I want to prove them wrong on the field."

Averette, who visited WVU in mid-July, was close to committing then, but decided to return home to "let it sit" for a bit. He discussed his decision with his family and his coaches, and when they saw how enthusiastic he was about West Virginia, told him that he should go ahead and commit. He did that, ending the recruiting process.

"My decision is solid," he said. "West Virginia is a great fit for me, and it's going to be a great family. I am on track to graduate in December, and I plan on being there in January."

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