Niles lineman Krok commits to West Virginia

Country Roads are taking Josh Krok home, to the place where he belongs: West Virginia.

The 6-foot-8, 290-pound offensive lineman made his commitment to WVU on Wednesday.

“It was the people down there that really sold me on it,” Krok said. “They were all very approachable and will be great to work with.”

Krok narrowed down his choices between Cincinnati, Louisville and the Mountaineers.

“It was a three-horse race right down until last weekend,” Niles coach Brian Shaner said. “The proximity played a big part because Morgantown is just a little over two hours away.

“It’s a great football town, too, just like Niles. It’s a great fit.”

Shaner, Krok and some other Red Dragons went to Milan Puskar Stadium recently for a 7-on-7 tournament with other recruits from Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

WVU’s recent move to the Big 12 Conference also was a selling point.

“I grew up watching big-time games like that,” Krok said. “It’ll be a dream come true going to Oklahoma and Texas to play. That, on top of the whole atmosphere, was a factor.”

So was Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen.

“Oh my, definitely,” Krok said. “He’s such a down-to-earth guy and does a lot of good things for the offense.”

The Mountaineers went 7-6 in 2012, finishing the season with a loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. They averaged 39.5 points per game, including a 70-point performance in a Sept. 29 win over Baylor. WVU was third in the Big 12 with 6,527 total yards. Quarterback Geno Smith, a second-round draft pick by the New York Jets, led the conference with a 163.9 QB rating, while Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams choices, combined for 2,911 receiving yards.

Another WR, J.D. Woods, signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Holgorsen said they still want to throw the ball a lot,” Krok said. “But there’s going to be more running plays. I’ll have my hands ready for either.”

The Mountaineers will graduate four starting offensive linemen after this season and Krok said he expects to compete right away.

Shaner was familiar with, and established a long-standing relationship with the West Virginia program and coaching staff. When he was at Rayen High School, WVU recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson approached him regarding skill players Tomaz Hilton, Sal Battles and Gary Thornton in 2006.

“It’s just a great thing for our program and the city of Niles to celebrate one of their own guys moving on to the next level,” Shaner said. “We saw that Big 12 flag flying high in their huge stadium and we knew it was the big-time. I’m proud of Josh for making a commitment to a great program.”

Niles went 8-3 in 2012. Krok was named first-team all-district and was an all-state special mention for Division III. The three-star recruit recorded 21 pancakes, grading out to 94-percent.