WHEELING - To hear Quincy Wilson tell it, the whole thing sounded like his idea.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen wanted to display his team in front of the whole state in an effort to reconnect the Mountaineers with their fans.
That's when Wilson said it dawned on him.
''We kinda brainstormed about how we could get in touch with our fans,'' Wilson said. ''I heard some other schools like Pitt do a spring practice at a high school. And I thought 'well, hell, West Virginia, that's a no brainer.' We called out to some spots and there are some logistical-type things you have to go through, but it worked out perfect.''
To have it in Wheeling? Well, Wilson takes credit for that, too.
''I just had an idea really. Just a 'hey, what about Wheeling?' '' he said. ''Knowing (Wheeling Park football coach Chris Daugherty) and those guys, I have a great relationship with those guys. The Super Six is held here and it's just one of the better facilities in the whole state. It just made sense.''
While the announcement was made public a few weeks ago, the process began nearly a month and a half ago, according to Wheeling Park athletics director Dwaine Rodgers.
''(WVU assistant coach) Steve Dunlap and I talked about a month or so ago,'' Rodgers said. ''We had to be quiet about a few things because of logistics and things from (WVU's) standpoint, getting all the paper work completed and everything.
''It was excellent. Steve, he's been a coach for so long and a really excellent guy. He's been great to work with. I went through a couple of things with Lonnie Barker, our facilities director, and it's been great.''
It certainly was. Everything went according to plan as approximately 1,500 Mountaineers fans filled Wheeling Island Stadium to catch a glimpse of the 2014 version of the West Virginia football team.
''This is good because we're getting out to our fans,'' said Wilson, who is currently the Assistant Director of Football Operations at WVU. ''People appreciate that more and with this being a smaller state, we can do that. We're going to Charleston in a few weeks, and I'm sure there's going to be an even bigger crowd there. This is awesome.''
Despite the fact that Saturday's practice was just the sixth of the spring, Wilson said he sees a lot more comradery among the players than he did last season.
''We've grown more as a team,'' he said. ''Not that we weren't last year, but this year we're a closer-knit group and that's going to help us when it comes down to games like Iowa State. If you're not together, you're not going to win. We're getting that part down. Guys are getting the system down, they're playing hard and that's all you can ask.''
Wilson, who began his football career at Weir High before putting on the Old Gold and Blue himself, said coming back to Wheeling Island Stadium brought back many memories of his prep career.
''I came back here and it's like oh my goodness, I played four years of high school football here,'' he said. ''I did have a couple big games here.''
No kidding. One in particular, the 1998 Class AA state championship where Weir topped DuPont 20-17, in which Wilson rushed for 250 yards.
He made sure the West Virginia players were aware of that game before they made the trip to Wheeling.
''Oh man, I've been talking trash all day,'' he said laughing. ''It's one of those things were it goes from 'I ran for 250' to 'I ran for 350.'
''It's cool (to come here). Not a lot of these guys get to come to this part of the state. A chance for them to come and see something different, it's great.''
After spending several seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, Wilson couldn't be happier with his current position.
''I make sure the guys are on the busses, make sure everyone has something to eat,'' he said. ''I love it. It's something different everyday. It gives me a chance to stay in football and I love it. And this is my home university. You can't beat that.''
Tony Viola can be reached via email at: email@example.com