Molinari finds niche at WVU

MORGANTOWN – Since arriving in Morgantown following his graduation from Parkersburg South High School, Michael Molinari has worked hard at finding his niche with West Virginia University’s football program.

Entering his senior season at West Virginia, Molinari has become a ‘jack of all trades’ when it comes to the special teams units.

“I’ve been busy,” Molinari explained following the team’s annual Gold/Blue Scrimmage that concluded spring drills. “I’m finally feeling healthy again and it’s allowed me to compete with all of those guys.”

Taking over as the team’s holder on field goals and extra points following his redshirt season in 2010, the former Patriot has spent time as the Mountaineers’ punter and now serves as the team’s kickoff specialist.

His importance to the program became even more evident when his status changed from being an invited walk-on to a full scholarship member of the team.

Molinari served as the team’s primary kickoff specialist during WVU’s 4-8 campaign in 2013, averaging 63.2 yards on 43 kickoffs with 14 touchbacks.

He was named Special Teams Champion following the Mountaineers victory over Oklahoma State and was chosen as an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection for the second year in a row.

All of his hard work and dedication -Molinari has played in 38 games for the old gold and blue -resulted in him being named one of the team’s captains for the spring.

“As a unit we’ve continued to get better,” Molinari said.

“Right now, we are trying to build off of our successes from last year.”

The units had their moments during the final scrimmage of the spring. Molinari, who averaged 37.3 yards per punt during the 2011 season, punted three times for an average of 45 yards during the Gold/Blue Scrimmage while his primary competition, Nick O’Toole, also punted three times for an average of 46.7 yards.

Each had a long of 56 yards.

As the team’s holder, Molinari teamed up with Josh Lambert on successful field goals of 31, 30 and 53 yards and then held the ball for extra point tries from Lambert, Mike Molina and Scott Levine. He even made good on his only PAT of the contest, following Skyler Howard’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Daikiel Shorts.

While the competition between the group is fierce, it also has allowed the specialists to develop a friendship that carries off of the playing surface.

“I don’t know if you caught any of those handshakes, but we’re a fun unit,” said the senior.

“I think that has a lot to do with how relaxed we are. We can make things happen just because of our composure.

“At the end of the day, it’s about being together, having fun and getting the job done.”