The Boardman senior is the third area player to verbally commit this summer.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- There are football players who love recruiting season.
Then there are those such as Boardman High senior Mike Villagrana.
"I hated the whole process," Villagrana said with a laugh. "There are so many little things to worry about. Now that it's over, my friends tell me I seem like a different person."
Villagrana verbally committed to West Virginia University last week. He will play defense for the Mountaineers next year. He's just not sure where.
"They could have me at defensive end or they could put me at defensive tackle or linebacker," he said. "It depends on what they want to do and how much bulk I put on."
Ranked 49th in Ohio
Villagrana (6-3, 230) earned all-Steel Valley Conference honors as a defensive end last season, and also plays tight end for the Spartans. He was ranked as the 49th best player in the state in the most recent issue of Ohio's Future Stars.
He prefers playing tight end, but West Virginia just seemed right, he said.
"I visited during spring break and I just felt so comfortable," said Villagrana, who met West Virginia graduate and Oakland Raider receiver Jerry Porter during his visit. "The coaches and the players made me feel like part of a family. The whole atmosphere was great."
He also liked the location. The campus is less than three hours from home, which will allow his mother, Laurie, to visit.
Credits his mother
"She's really been a big influence in my life," he said of his mother. "She raised me and she's really made it through a lot of tough times. She's always smiling and always telling me that time heals everything."
Villagrana runs a 4.9 40-yard dash, benches 305 and squats 385. He has a 2.5 grade point average and earned a 17 on his ACT. He had offers from several Mid-American Conference schools and originally planned to wait until after the season to commit.
He is the third football player from the area to verbally commit this summer. Ursuline tight end Louis Irizarry committed to Ohio State and Fitch offensive lineman Mike McGlynn committed to Pitt.
"When I saw those two commit, I just thought, 'That must be really nice,' " he said. "I had the opportunity to go to a nice school. That was good enough for me."
Focus on season
Now he can focus on this football season. The Spartans lost a talented senior class that included Evan Beard, Steve Vallos and Jay Upthegrove, but have plenty of talent returning from last year's playoff team.
"I'm really excited about this season," he said.
"Our offense is loaded and we're even bigger on the line. I think we can be just as good or better than last year."
Boardman has a challenging non-league schedule with games against Cleveland St. Ignatius and North Canton Hoover.
The Steel Valley will be tough, as usual.
"I think the Steel Valley is one of the best conferences in the state," he said. "I love the competition.
"I think it's sad that it's breaking up."