Adaptation

Adaptation

Orange County (Va.) head football coach John Kayajanian knew several years ago that he had a special player destined for his roster, so the veteran coach did everything he could to take advantage of what promised to be a once in a lifetime talent.

"We knew he was going to be good since we watched him in middle school," Kayajanian said of quarterback Bradley Starks, who committed to West Virginia on Tuesday. "We knew we had a great athlete coming up. Before Bradley came here, we were a wishbone and power I team, and we had been doing that for a long time. With Bradley, we jumped into the spread to take advantage of his skills."

Changing offensive schemes to fit talents of players is nothing new on the high school level, but a radical switch from the wishbone to the spread might be a daunting task for many. However, Kayajanian is a firm believer in adaptation, and thus had no reservations about making the switch to utilize Starks' talents in the best manner possible.

"If you don't [adapt] and change with your people, you are going to be a dinosaur. You will be extinct," the head coach observed. "We also have a good offensive coordinator in Jess Lohr that has been like a father figure to Bradley. He's an outstanding athlete, and he really blossomed and came into his own as a sophomore. He took us to eight wins, and we really jumped on his back and rode him that year and then last year as a junior. He threw for 2000 yards and ran for another 1000 last year, and he just took over for us."

In addition to being the focal point on the field, Starks has also become a leader for Orange County. While he's not a vocal figure in that arena, the example he sets with his work and play is something that his teammates respect and look up to.

"That's one of the big things I have been pleased with," Kayajanian said of his rising senior star. "As a sophomore he really progressed and then as a junior he took over. For example, against our main rival, without much blocking, he made a lot of things happen for us. He has a will to win, and when you have a kid like that you know good things are going to happen for you.

"He is a different kind of kid, a lead by example kind of player. Kids see his talent and they want to perform with him. When they see him play they rally around him," the veteran coach continued. "He is a great defensive back and a great receiver too, and we use him at those positions. He got knocked out in one game where he was playing at defensive back, and we ended up losing the game, but he didn't let it bother him. He got right back into it. He will be a marked man this year, but he certainly won't let it intimidate him."

While some coaches encourage their players to draw the recruiting process out, Kayajanian believes that Starks made a good choice in West Virginia. He also thinks Starks and his Orange County teammates will benefit from the early summer commitment.

"He looked around, starting after last season," the veteran coach said of the Hornets' star player. "West Virginia is a good fit for him in the spread offense. It's a rural situation like here in Orange County, too. We haven't had a lot of Division I athletes here (Asa Chapman being the most recent), and it has been exciting, but also a challenge, to have all the recruiting attention here. We've had schools from up and down the East Coast and as far west as Iowa State in here, so it is good to get things under control and have him be able to concentrate for his senior season."

Starks is the latest in a string of impressive commitments for WVU assistant coach Bill Stewart, who works Virginia for the Mountaineers. He fended off recruiters from dozens of schools to nail down Starks' verbal, and along the way keeps the respect of the coaches he deals with.

"I have known Coach Stew for a while," Kayajanian noted. "He spoke at the Virginia coaches convention last year. Coach Stew has been here in Virginia for a long time, and he is a very well-respected man."

Bradley Starks Profile

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