- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NEWPORT, R.I. | West Virginia was in the middle of spring practice when coach Bill Stewart ended one session with a simple gesture.

He walked toward Jarrett Brown and wedged a football into the fifth-year senior’s hands, leaving no doubt to the answer of the greatest uncertainty surrounding the Mountaineers’ program.

“It’s my team,” Brown said of the moment’s significance. “It’s officially my team.”

At long last.

Of course, there was a reason Brown was the longtime backup - the presence of a man who galvanized a solid program into a national championship contender.

That would be Pat White, the slippery maestro who led the Mountaineers to four straight postseason triumphs and a skyrocketing national profile that included statement bowl victories against Georgia and Oklahoma.

More than seven months after White’s last game, he still looms. His name was evoked repeatedly at Tuesday’s Big East media day, leaving Brown to answer as many questions about his predecessor’s absence as his own pending opportunity.

“It wouldn’t be my first choice,” Brown said after considering yet another White-related query. “I’ve been hearing it. It won’t be over till we play that first game.”

It arrives Sept. 5 against Liberty, a salve for the barrage of understandable curiosity over whether Brown can maintain the program’s quality.

What it ignores is Brown’s own wait.

He was a vital recruit from West Palm Beach, Fla. - a potent passer with a powerful arm who was also a superb basketball player (on Tuesday, Brown wore his 2008 Sweet 16 ring from his time with Bob Huggins’ first team in Morgantown).

He couldn’t wait to get to college, play on Saturdays and bask in the limelight - and there was every reason to believe Brown would prove a crucial piece for much of his career. There was just one problem.

“How was I going to sit Patrick White down when I was the quarterback coach? I like keeping my job, know what I mean?” said Stewart, who enters his second season. “So how was I going to sit him down? And Jarrett Brown, he’s a guy who probably could have played for a few teams in our league.”

The thought crossed Brown’s mind, too. Some nights, he would return to his apartment and ponder transferring.

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