Carduff's Athleticism Stands Out

Frank Carduff

West Virginia's first offensive line commitment in the Class of 2005 has all the building blocks to be successful, according to his high school coach.

Ray Sajone, who served as an assistant last year at Shenandoah Valley before taking over the reins as head coach for the upcoming season, believes that West Virginia has gotten an excellent player for its system.

"Frank is just a great player," said Sajone. "He's a real athletic kid for his size. He can do a lot of things that other guys his size probably can't do, and we try to take advantage of that."

Carduff plays both offensive tackle and defensive end for the Blue Devils, who are a typical eastern Pennsylvania team. That is, tough, hard working, and determined. In many ways, Carduff is the epitome of those qualities.

"He's an excellent player both ways for us," Sajone commented. "He's very intelligent, and he knows the game. He has the ability to take things in and learn them quickly. The mental part of the game is one of his strong points.

"People are always looking for more athletic linemen, and the sterotype of eastern Pennsylvania goes against that. People think we are just big, strong players. 'Athletic' isn't the first word that comes to mind when you are talking about this area, so sometimes kids from here get underrated in that aspect. Frank has those qualities though, and he's like most of the kids here: tough and strong, and from good families."

Although Carduff is slated for the offensive side of the ball at WVU, Sajone believes that he is benefitting from playing on the defensive line as a high schooler.

"I think playing defensive line helps Frank because he gets to see things from both perspectives," Sajone analyzed. "You can see what the other guy is doing and how he reacts to what you are doing. That has to help, no matter what position you are playing."

Back on the offensive side of the ball, Shenandoah Valley does run the ball predominantly, which brings some questions about Carduff's pass-blocking ability into mind. Contrary to that train of thought, Sajone said that he's actually a better fit for WVU's program than the Blue Devils'.

"I know I've said it before, but he's really athletic. He will fit into West Virginia's program just fine. He's an excellent run blocker for us, but I think he will be good in West Virginia's offense too."

If there's one thing Sajone wants Carduff to improve upon, it's his ability to be a vocal leader. While the new coach has no doubts about Carduff's leadership skills, he would like him to be more demonstrative as a senior.

"Frank is a quiet guy - that's his M.O.," Sajone explained. "He gets it done on the field, and he leads by example, not by getting emotional. He's a quiet player, but he's intense. I want him to be a bit more vocal."

As for his play on the field, Sajone is full of praise for his rising senior. He observes that Carduff is excellent at one particular phase of the game that many prep players struggle to master.

"He uses his hands really well," said Sajone. "He gets his hands in good position, and a lot of guys he faces are beat before they even get started. He stays low as a run blocker and he also comes off the ball well. He does a good job of getting to second level (linebackers) and clearing paths."

Carduff's hand work no doubt attracted the attention of assistant coach Bill Kirelawich, who was Carduff's primary recruiter. Kirelawich believes hand play is one of the most underrated aspects of any lineman's game, and it's something that he emphasizes constantly.

Also helping out in the recruiting process was Carduff's former coach, Joe Ruth. Ruth was a two year letterman for the Mountaineers from 1990-91, and although he left the Shenandoah Valley job for the head coaching position at North Schulkyll following last season, his influence undoubtedly had some effect on Carduff's decision to commit to the Mountaineers.

"Joe is still a big fan of his alma mater," Sajone said of his former boss. "He talked with Frank about WVU, and we had him down to West Virginia for a game last year."

Carduff is the first of what is expected to be three or four offensive linemen in this year's class. Most, if not all, of those linemen are expected to be tackles, and the class if off to a good start with the addition of the Pennsylvania native.

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