Andrew Phares knows that he is undersized. He doesn't seem to think it's a big deal.
“I might be 5-foot-8, somewhere around there," Phares told The Dominion Post following a win over Musselman (WV) this past fall. “I’ve got a 37-inch vertical. I can get up there.”
"I might be 5-foot-8, somewhere around there. I’ve got a 37-inch vertical. I can get up there."- Andrew Phares
Phares -- a WVU Class of 2024 prospect who played wide receiver and defensive back Morgantown High School (WV) -- recently accepted a preferred walk-on offer from the Mountaineers.
He announced his intentions in January but made the decision official on National Signing Day earlier this week. It will be roughly a three minute drive through downtown Morgantown from his high school campus to his chosen collegiate home.
“This truly means a lot to me, I’ve grown up here all my life,” Phares told The Dominion Post in January after making the decision.
"This truly means a lot to me, I’ve grown up here all my life."- Andrew Phares
Listed at 5'9, 158-pounds on his Hudl page, Phares isn't your stereotypical build for a Big 12 football star. Many Mountaineer fans may be wary of his chances to contribute due to his smaller stature. But he punches far above his weight.
During that aforementioned win against Musselman, The Dominion Post details a late-game fourth-down where Musselman brought its offense into the field. Matched up against a 6’4 wide receiver, Phares was still able to bat down an on-target pass to his assignment -- it was a play which helped seal a win.
Watching offensive tape on Phares from Next Up Entertainment, he bears a striking similarity to another former Morgantown High athlete who accepted a walk-on offer to the team and is now a scholarship player and major contributor -- Preston Fox.
Fox is also undersized for his position. He's listed at 5’10 -- just an inch taller than Phares -- and clocks in at just 187 pounds after multiple seasons at the Division 1 level. Yet he would appear in 12games for WVU last season and manage 26 receptions for 368 yards and two touchdowns.
When you compare the film, Phares and Fox are both shifty and small receivers with reliable hands and a knack for finding open space to make plays. The Morgantown High School to WVU football pipeline has ran deep these past few years as well -- in addition to Fox, current Mountaineers Nick Malone and Caden Biser are Morgantown alumni. Phares told The Dominion Post he has been in contact with both Fox and Malone recently, with Fox in particular playing a mentorship role.
“He [Fox] has helped me get more comfortable through this phase of the decision,” Phares said.
"He [Preston Fox] has helped me get more comfortable through this phase of the decision"- Andrew Phares
Phares also told The Post he plans to redshirt his freshman year. This is a decision which could help him acclimate to college football and gain an extra season of development.
Phares paced the Morgantown receiver room this past fall, tallying team-highs in a trio of categories with 35 receptions for 632 yards and seven touchdowns, and also contributed as a playmaker on defense and special teams as well.