MORGANTOWN Geno Smith grew up just across the lake from the stadium in which the Orange Bowl will be played on Jan. 4, 2012, and now it seems everybody from his old stomping grounds wants a ticket to the game.
If he had his way, he would fulfill all of those ticket requests. But instead, he left that duty in the hands of his mother.
"She's the ticket agent," Smith said Friday following the team's first practice since last Sunday's announcement that West Virginia would be taking on Atlantic Coast Conference champion Clemson in the annual game in Miami.
"I'm just gathering them up and giving them to her," he said. "She's dispersing them as she sees fit. She's ticket master."
West Virginia's roster features several players who played football for Miramar High School under former Mountaineer Damon Cogdell. Smith said they are all looking forward to spending Christmas at home before assembling as a team for five practices leading up to the game.
"We realize this will be the closest game we ever play to home," WVU receiver Stedman Bailey said. "Miramar is walking distance to the stadium. Every day I would go by that stadium."
So the crowd will have a strong Mountaineer presence, making for what Smith calls "an overall good atmosphere."
Taking off for December graduation and next week's final examinations, West Virginia will practice 10 times in Morgantown before allowing the players to go home for Christmas.
"Next week is busy with recruiting and finals," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "But after that, we can practice and watch a bunch of tape. I won't have much time to watch tape this week because we will be gone. Because the game isn't until Jan. 4, we will have plenty of time once recruiting is over."
Playing in a nationally televised game, which will be the only one on television that night, will be a plus for attracting recruits.
"It is a high-profile game," Holgorsen said. "We are all aware of what the broadcast will do. It makes it important for us to play well. Recruiting is going well, but anytime you can win, it helps."