- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - There aren’t many people who can make a career out of being a fan, but Doug Cross is one of them.

Cross, 27, is entering his fourth season as an in-house contractor with WVU, creating the promotional videos and other materials used by the football program. The weekly in-season motivational videos? His. Player highlight videos? His. Recruiting videos? His.

Cross’s childhood passion for WVU football developed into a pursuit, and turned into a profession.

While Cross is still more likely to be known for his internet persona, DougityDog, than he is to be recognized as himself, he’s one of the behind-the-scenes figures who helps make the Mountaineers’ machine run.

Since joining WVU full-time, in 2012, Cross has helped rebrand the program’s identity. And while you won’t find his name on the Mountaineers’ website or in their media guide, there’s no hiding that Cross has become an integral part of the program.

“I do everything involved with marketing and branding our program,” Cross said. “That’s what I was charged with when I started. It’s a big job. I do videos, graphics, social media, PowerPoint presentations and helped set up the databases that we still use to evaluate players.”

It’s a long way from where Cross started, downloading free video editing software and using game footage to piece together fan videos to post on YouTube. That was early on during Cross’s high school career at Bishop Fenwick, in his hometown of Middletown, Ohio.

“In high school I started thinking about how I could help the program instead of just being an average fan,” Cross said. “I wanted to see if there was a way I could contribute to this entity that I care so much about.

Then I watched a Louisville fan video recapping our triple-overtime win against them (in 2005) and I thought, ‘I could do that.’ So I downloaded some software and just started messing around with it. It kind of just took off from there.”

By 2007, as an undergrad at Miami (Ohio), Cross expanded his online portfolio to include player videos for running back Noel Devin and quarterback Pat White.

Cross and some friends also helped develop a website pushing White’s Heisman Trophy candidacy.

Soon after, Cross got his first official assignment from WVU.

“My stuff was getting better, and I got a call from Todd Hartley, who was a (graduate assistant) at the time, ” Cross said. “He had me start doing some videos for the team to watch pregame, during the 2009 season. But I was working remotely, and my only compensation was field passes when I’d come to games.”

For a die-hard WVU fan, the allure of a field pass was more than enough, as Cross made the five-hour drive from Oxford, Ohio to Morgantown a weekly ritual.

“I made sure I came to every home game,” Cross said with a laugh. “It was pretty good. That worked out for me.”

Making the move After graduating with a pair of business degrees from Miami, Cross enrolled in WVU’s dual-degree MBA/Sport Management graduate program, in 2010.

“I felt like I needed to legitimize my fandom by becoming an actual alumnus,” he joked.

Despite being on campus, and his existing relationship with the football program, Cross had a hard time breaking in with the Mountaineers. He continued to create his own content during the 2010 season but didn’t work for the team in any capacity until Dana Holgorsen took over as WVU’s head coach, in 2011.

At first, Holgorsen put Cross in charge of doing the same things he’d already been doing on his own, motivational and inspirational videos, but that changed quickly after Cross became a full-time contracted employee of the university.

“Doug has a very creative mind,” WVU recruiting coordinator Casey Smithson said. “Since coach Holgorsen got here and (Cross) got a full-time position, he has been doing all of our media stuff. He still does videos and graphics, but he also does a lot of the things we send out to recruits. He heads up the whole creative side of recruitment.”

Cross is something of a one-man graphics department for the football program.

He helps conceptualize and design the mailers WVU sends to prospective players, the creative force providing the heartbeat for the Mountaineers’ recruiting efforts.

“He does a tremendous job with it, especially being the only person doing it for us, ” Smithson said. “He has come up with some pretty cool stuff to catch the kids’ eyes, which is what it’s all about. We have to figure out how we can stand out when (recruits) get something in the mail - and he does a good job with that.”

In the end, though, it comes back to the videos.

They’re what got Cross involved with WVU football nearly a decade ago and, as a fan still, what push him to try and outdo himself each week during the season.

Every chapter focused on a different message, as some of 2014’s titles included “Undaunted,” ”Be Remembered, ” “Revenge Season” and “Just The Beginning.”

Bits and pieces are inspired by Holgorsen’s weekly messages to the team, but Cross blends driving beats and live clips to create a video he hopes moves the Mountaineers’ players and fans alike.

“That’s where the fandom comes in,” Cross said. “I try to figure out what will get fans hyped and then give it to them. Whatever they want, that’s what they’re getting. The biggest thing for me is getting everyone into it.”

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Information from: The Dominion Post, https://www.dominionpost.com

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