PARKERSBURG - Following his graduation from Parkersburg South, Ron Crook dreamed of playing at West Virginia University, but quickly realized that his talents were more suited for the Hilltoppers of West Liberty State University.
That dream of one day putting on the old gold and blue never left, however, and was finally fulfilled when third year head coach Dana Holgorsen added the former Patriot to his coaching staff to take over the duties as offensive line coach when Bill Bedenbaugh elected to leave for a similar position at Oklahoma.
Crook, who was back in the Mid-Ohio Valley on Monday to speak to the Parkersburg Rotary Club, was just coming off of a second season with the Cardinal of Stanford University where he was the tight ends and offensive tackles coach.
Photo by Jim Butta
Recently-hired WVU offensive line coach Ron Crook was the guest speaker at the Parkersburg Rotary Club on Monday. A Parkersburg South graduate, Crook discussed his new role with the Mountaineers.
"Coach (Don) Nehlen and his staff recognized that I didn't have the talent to play here," Crook said. "But, I knew from an early age that I wanted to coach and I knew in my heart that, if given the opportunity, I wanted to coach at WVU."
That opportunity arose and now Crook, who earned his degree in physical education from West Liberty State in 1991, his wife Stacy and their three children are back in the Mountain State-hopefully for good.
"Really, there are two reasons," continued the coach. "One is, I'm an offensive line coach and we always want to coach offensive linemen. I could have stayed at Stanford for 20 years coaching tight ends and tackles, but I wanted a chance to coach the offensive line and Dana offered that to me.
"Second, I grew up a Mountaineer. I know how important the Mountaineers are to West Virginians. And, I want to be a part of that."
Success has followed Crook at each of his coaching stops.
Following graduation he spent stints on the coaching staffs at West Liberty, WVU Tech (1999), Glenville State (1997-98) and Clarion College (1994-96) and was part of NCAA D-II playoff teams with the Pioneers and Clarion.
Crook served on the coaching staff at Illinois (2002) where he assisted with the offensive line. He worked closely with All-Big 10 players Dave Diehl and 2001 All-American Tony Pashos, who were selected in the 2003 NFL Draft.
In 2003, the Parkersburg native took his coaching talents to Harvard and developed an offensive front that paved the way for Clifton Dawson (2003-06) to set the Ivy League's all-time career rushing record with 4,841 yards. Eight of Crook's players earned all-Ivy first team honors a combined 11 times, including James Williams, who was a three-time All-American and first team All-Ivy selection.
Those accomplishments paved the way for Crook to receive the job at Stanford where he worked with the Cardinals' tight end trio of Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo.
But, in his heart, Crook was a West Virginian.
"This is where I have always wanted to be," added Crook. "This is where my heart is, where my family and my wife's family is, and where I want my kids to grow up."
Now he is faced with a new task-replacing an offensive line that lost three starters following last season's 7-6 mark.
"Players constantly improve so the evaluation process is pretty much over. Now, we are concentrating on teaching the players what we expect from them. We want them to develop a mental toughness as well as a physical toughness to themselves.
"If we can find five players to do that then I don't see any reason why we can't be just as successful as Mountaineer teams in the past have been successful."
Words all Mountaineer fans definitely are wanting to hear.