Taige Redman, the former Keyser and West Virginia University linebacker, sat without a cocktail in the cocktail lounge of the Ali Ghan Shrine Club along with Sean Biser, his football coach at Keyser, also sans cocktail, looking back on all he’s been through since his last visit to the Dapper Dan Sports Awards Banquet.
That was in 2009 when he and the Golden Tornado were coming off an undefeated regular season and he was being honored as the area high school co-Defensive Player of the Year. In just a matter of days, Redman, who led the Keyser track team to a state championship the following spring and who was named All-State 12 different times in his four years at Keyser, would be intercepted from signing an NCAA National Letter of Intent to play for Ohio University by head coach Bill Stewart and Redman’s home-state Mountaineers.
WVU had had interest in Redman from the beginning, but was straightforward with him in explaining the only way he would become a Mountaineer is if somebody else the team was recruiting opted not to become one, which is what happened on that National Signing Day.
For Redman, who was just as honest with Ohio U. about the situation as the late Stewart and WVU were with him, it was a dream come true to sign with the Mountaineers. One of 11 children, Redman was never asked to walk on at WVU, which will likely always give him cause to consider how different his life would be had that WVU recruit not changed his mind just as Redman was about to sign with Ohio.
“It went so fast,” Redman said. “It’s been quite a quick turnaround since the last time I was here.”
During that quick turnaround, Redman played for two different head coaches, went to four different bowl games and two BCS conferences. He injured one of his knees in the Mountaineers’ win over Baylor in the fourth game this season, but continued to play. Most recently he underwent surgery on both knees (progress good), but not before graduating with a degree in criminology in less than four years.
The Mountaineers began the 2012 season 5-0, capped by a 48-45 win at Texas, buoyed by Heisman hopefuls Geno Smith and Tavon Austin. However, they returned to Texas the following week and lost to Texas Tech in Lubbock, triggering a five-game losing streak. With wins at Iowa State and then at home over Kansas to finish the regular season, the Mountaineers were 7-5 before concluding their season in Yankee Stadium in New York with a 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.
“It was disappointing the way it ended,” said Redman, “particularly a season that began with so much promise. But it was all such a great experience, all the different places we played — Texas, Texas Tech. Just a great experience.
“The Big 12, it was a different world. Austin and Lubbock were like night and day. Both were very football-hostile, but Austin was very nice.”
Reflecting on his nearly four years in Morgantown, Redman said the 2012 Orange Bowl, in which WVU throttled Clemson, 70-33, was clearly his favorite bowl experience, but that he enjoyed the Gator and Champs Sports bowls as well.
“All three were great bowls,” he said. “Well organized, very hospitable, with plenty for the players to do.”
The Pinstripe Bowl? Not so much.
“The Pinstripe wasn’t my favorite,” he said. “Nothing against New York. New York is fantastic, but it’s so spread out and so busy, it really didn’t provide the greatest bowl atmosphere when it came to the group activities you have at bowls.”
Nearly midway through his college career, Redman and the rest of the Mountaineers experienced a coaching change, with the popular Stewart being replaced by Dana Holgorsen prior to the 2011 season. When the matter of the intensity Holgorsen appears to wear on his sleeve during games was broached, Redman laughed and said that the perception was reality.
“Coach Holgorsen is a lot to handle,” Redman said. “He’ll get after you, and he expects perfection. But if you like hard coaching — which I do, and which I’m used to — he’s a good one to have.”
Having experienced so much since the last time he sat on the Dapper Dan dais, just four quick years ago, Redman doesn’t know what the next day will bring, much less the next four years. He does, however, have at least two, possibly three law enforcement career starters on the table already.
He said he understands the rest of his life is about to begin moving at warp speed compared to how the previous four years moved. But if you’re going to bet on somebody to keep up, to make the most and experience the best in this life, bet on Keyser’s Taige Redman.
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.