A new recruit
Last May this space talked about a high school football star from Maryland who got himself into some serious hot water because of a foolish prank. The reason that tidbit made its way into this space is because Pat Lazear, the star athlete, was being heavily recruited by West Virginia University to play football.
To refresh. Lazear and some friends decided to rob a Smoothie King in Bethesda. Lazear drove the car and another guy went into the store with a gun (not real) and demanded money. There were two employees in the store, one of whom was privy to the plan. They made off with over a little over $400 and went to a pizza joint to spend some of the loot. They were joined there by one of the Smoothie King employees.
Montgomery county's prosecutors decided to charge the teens as adults with felony charges. That put Lazear's recruitment to major colleges in jeopardy, but many schools, including WVU closely monitored the situation.
Last Friday, more than a week after the initial signing day, Lazear signed a letter of intent to play football at West Virginia. The legal process had run its course and while Lazear will serve a closely monitored probation, he will not be going to prison.
Not all were happy with the WVU signing. Some feel his actions as a teen indicate a life's path that head coach Rich Rodriguez and WVU should want no part of. Many of the schools courting Lazear early on backed off, but a lot of them resurfaced late in the recruiting process when Lazear's legal situation became more clear.
Most WVU fans, however, think Lazear should be given a second chance, especially since he is one of the top linebacker recruits in the country. Plus, without the stupid prank, Lazear would seem the model student athlete with the 3.75 grade point average and all.
What led Lazear to WVU is not mysterious, but his legal issues may have sealed the deal. Lazear's parents are from Wellsburg and attended WVU, so there was that working in the Mountaineers' favor. So, West Virginia was in the mix all along, but perhaps Ohio State was his favorite. It is not clear if Ohio State offered again, but Alabama and some other schools did.
In the end, some accounts suggest the parents ultimately made the decision where Lazear would attend college.
Interestingly, the decision was made for Lazear to sign his letter of intent late so as to get in under the radar, thinking no one would notice if he were to sign after the signing date. That plan did not have the desired effect as the announcement of the signing created a small debate among fans as to the merits of signing a player with a felony arrest in his past.
I side with the large group which believes Lazear has learned from this and will be just fine. Rodriguez believes that and the court has him on a short leash, so if trouble does arise, Lazear will be gone.