Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

Morgantown’s Andrew Phares grateful after accepting PWO offer from WVU

MORGANTOWN — An opportunity. That’s the thought that crossed the mind of Morgantown High senior Andrew Phares when accepting a position as a preferred walk-on for head coach Neal Brown and the West Virginia University Football team.

After a solid senior year for MHS football coach Sean Biser and the Mohigans, Phares will join the Mountaineers in the fall on offense as a PWO and said he is thankful for the chance and eager for what lies ahead.

“This truly means a lot to me, I’ve grown up here all my life,” Phares said. “I know how important it will be for me to take advantage of all the opportunities that I get and I’m excited to face those head-on. I’m so thankful that Neal Brown and his staff noticed me and have given me the chance to prove myself.”

While a PWO does not receive any athletic scholarship offer, they are guaranteed a roster spot and can earn a scholarship later on, a challenge Phares says he is welcoming with open arms.

“I’m going to redshirt my freshman year and as a walk-on, I know all the work that is ahead of me,” Phares said. “And really that work starts now, before I’m even done with high school. I have to get in the gym and on the field now to make sure I’m ready for everything. While it’s an amazing thing to say I’m a Division-I athlete, I have to show that I am a part of the team and I’m not someone just filling space or occupying a jersey number. I’ve worked hard to get to this point but honestly, the real work starts now.”

In the 2023 season for MHS, Phares led the team in every category through the air with 35 receptions for 632 yards and seven touchdowns. His yardage and touchdown totals made up for half of the team totals of 1,362 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He also had six kickoff returns for 69 yards, averaging 11.5 yards.

Phares may lack in size for a typical D-I wideout, checking in at 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, but believes he can make an impact with the talents he possesses, as he mentioned former MHS standout Preston Fox (who also joined as a walk-on) has been able to do. The two Mohigans have been in contact through the process of Phares committing to WVU.

“He’s helped play a mentor role for me a bit,” Phares said. “He has helped me get more comfortable through this phase of the decision. I spoke with Nick Malone (WVU offensive lineman and MHS grad) too at a camp over the summer and he gave me a ton of advice.”

Phares will graduate from MHS in the spring before joining his new team, and as mentioned will redshirt during his freshman season.