Gravier Busy Seeking Talent for Bluefield College
BLUEFIELD, Va. — National Signing Day is all about replenishing rosters for the upcoming seasons.

Gravier Busy Seeking Talent for Bluefield College

February 3, 2011 | RSS

By: Brian Woodson

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — National Signing Day is all about replenishing rosters for the upcoming seasons.


Mike Gravier continues to recruit the first football class at BC to play club football in Fall 2011.

Forget replenishing. At Bluefield College, they're looking to fill spots, every one of them.


Walk into Bluefield College football coach Mike Gravier's small office on campus and the walls are dominated by a pair of large dry-erase boards. On them are names, and lots of them.


The head coach of the resurrected Bluefield College football team has a tall task ahead, preparing the Rams for junior varsity/club play in the fall, with the school's first regular season of football in 61 years kicking off in 2012.


Gravier isn't sure who will be playing for the Rams just yet. The five players he has now are currently conditioning five days a week. There are others interested, but all are playing basketball and baseball.


He'll need to add more, many more. The school administration wants Gravier to have 60 players in place by the fall, but he wants 75. The school wants an eventual high of 85, while Gravier is looking at 100 simply because of injuries and attrition that comes with the sport.


"When it is all said and done, when we start rolling with this thing, the school wants me to be at 85 players on the roster," Gravier said. "I would like to be around 100 because that would be more practical for practices.


"You are always going to have kids injured, you are going to have some kids quit during two-a-days where it is not going to be for them. I figure if we can start with 100 then we will be in good shape then.


"There are some schools where 150 to 170 are the norm. I don't know how you coach that many kids, you obviously can't keep them all happy."


Finding the right players is the challenge ahead.


He's got a list. A long list.


Those boards in Gravier's office are filled with names of potential athletes, all listed at the numerous positions that a football team must fill.


That's just a fraction of them. Gravier's current database for potential recruits stands at 802, and he admits it's actually much larger than that.


"Some of those are people that have contacted us, some are recommendations from coaches, and some are from some different recruiting services," Gravier said. "I have got a database that can send out mass texts or mass e-mails.


"When I have done that, it has been about 1,200 at a time that I have sent out."


No one goes to the movies more than Gravier. He's constantly receiving video from players or coaches, along with letters, e-mails and texts, all related to potential players for the Bluefield program.


His job is trying to figure out who can play college football, and who can't.


Gravier has done this before. He was part of a new program at Malone University in Ohio, even leading them to a 10-1-1 record and a playoff appearance in their third season. At Bluefield, Gravier has inherited a program that hasn't played a game since 1941.


Currently, Gravier's staff includes a student assistant and intern, both of whom are invaluable to him. He has hired former Richlands, West Virginia University and NFL standout Mike Compton as his offensive line coach, and his only other full-time hire will be a defensive coordinator, who has yet to be named.


Trying to coax players to a private school in Southwest Virginia isn't easy. He can't just offer a full scholarship. Instead, it's all about trying to come up with a financial aid package that usually includes grants offered by the state and school.


"It's a lot different than Division I where you can say here is the scholarship," said Gravier, who added that the program would be built with high school and not junior college transfers. "I wish it was that way."


He has been pleased with the interest in a new program. Gravier — who will serve as offensive coordinator — knows that kids want to play, they don't want to sit on the bench and wait for a chance to play. At Bluefield College, playing time is out there for everyone.


"We are getting that kind of interest from some pretty good players that are looking at a program and having the opportunity to start for four years," Gravier said, "or go somewhere where they have to sit for two or three years waiting for those upperclassmen to graduate and maybe play the last couple of years.


"Kids now-a-days want to play, they are not as willing to sit as they were years ago."


No one has a job right now. Gravier is looking for versatile athletes who could play different positions. The span of his search is just about anywhere, from California to Florida, with a heavy emphasis on Virginia and schools in the local and regional area.


"We are getting a lot of interest nationally," Gravier said. "I think kids with recruting services, there are some for kids and some for coaches. Kids are getting more involved nationwide in their search for colleges.


"With the Internet some of them are googling start-up football programs."


Bluefield College will play about eight junior varsity games next season before tackling a full-time Mid-South Conference schedule in 2012, which could include UVa-Wise, West Virginia Tech and Pikeville. They will have just one non-league game.


The games will be played at Mitchell Stadium. Practice facilities will be at the former Pocahontas High School, and a location for the school's lone weight room is being sought. Gravier's current collection of five are working out at the Greater Bluefield Community Center.


Things are slowing starting to come together. Gravier has ordered helmets, uniforms, equipment, footballs and the list goes on and on.


All that's missing are the players. He can't wait to get them on campus.


"A lot of the guys I am looking at are very athletic and could potentially play multiple positions," Gravier said. "With our team next year, we will be very inward focused as far as coaching goes.


"Our goal at the end of the fall is to have every player in the position where he can, one, make it easier to get on the field and, two, obviously help the team as well."