MORGANTOWN - Thor Merrow is having a tougher time finding a spot where he can become a steady contributor than his father, Jeff, did as an outstanding middle guard for West Virginia from 1972-74.
The youngster spent his first two years here as a defensive lineman, but was switched to fullback/tight end in spring practice. Now he hopes that he finally is situated for his remaining two years of collegiate competition.
"I love playing fullback," said the 6-1, 245-pound junior from Buford, Ga. "I lost 20 pounds (from 265), feel a lot better and I move a lot better."
Merrow said the transition was somewhat difficult at first. But things come a lot easier now as he is nearing the end of the so-called voluntary summer workouts.
"I've gotten along much better, having learned what I'm supposed to do," he admitted.
"Once I learned my responsibilities, I was able to adjust nicely. In the spring, I made mistakes early and correcting those helped."
Merrow is aware that it won't be easy to earn playing time at fullback or tight end when preseason practice starts on Saturday, Aug. 1. He's in the mix with sophomore Will Johnson, a converted wide receiver; senior Sam Morrone; and junior Maxwell Anderson.
"We all will be taking the reps when camp opens," he said. "Everybody has been working hard this summer getting ready."
Merrow doesn't think there is much difference between fullback and tight end.
He played defensive end as well as tight end at Buford High School, which he helped post a combined 58-2 record and capture three Georgia state championships.
There isn't anyone among the Mountaineers who wouldn't tell you that WVU is going to miss Owen Schmitt, the starter at the dual position the past two years. He's now a rookie with the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks.
"I talked to Owen in the spring and recently," Merrow said. "He not only is a great player but a very good guy."
Merrow was credited with nine tackles last season, and all of them were for lost yardage.
Now that he's on the offensive side, he naturally hopes to put up good numbers whenever he has the ball and to do a good job of blocking for others.
Jeff Merrow made the WVU all-time team for the period 1970-79.
He still ranks 20th among the school's all-time career tacklers with a two-year collection of 271.
Apparently there was no listing available for the 1972 season, his first at the varsity level (following a year on the freshman team).
Bobby Bowden, then the head coach, named Merrow and wide receiver Marshall Mills as co-captains of the 1974 team.
Merrow went on to play nine years in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.
Thor Merrow said his father is doing very well as he continues to follow his alma mater's football fortunes.