COPPERAS COVE - It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
Copperas Cove Bulldawg senior running back and first-team All-State selection Troy Vital shrugged off several big, well-known Division I universities last week and made a verbal commitment to the University of Idaho.
Vital chose the Vandals over several in-state teams, including Baylor, Houston and North Texas. Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Tulsa also recruited the running back heavily.
Vital made his decision because Idaho showed it wanted the Cove running back in a Vandals uniform next season. Idaho coaches - including head coach Robb Akey - traveled all the way to Vital's home in Copperas Cove on Jan. 14 for a visit.
It was the third time Idaho had come all the way to Central Texas to visit Vital.
"A lot of schools showed interest on me, but not like Idaho," Vital said. "I knew I was a top recruit for them; I felt wanted."
Idaho, despite being an underdog, had a lot of fight in them.
Vital also felt at home when he went to visit the school. Moscow, Idaho - where the university is located - was not overwhelming and is similar in size to Copperas Cove.
Moscow's population is about 22,000.
"I picked Idaho because it was similar to Copperas Cove," Vital said. "It's small and the college is really the only place in the town.
"It's far, but I feel like I have to grow up. So, I'm ready to move away and be on my own."
According to Vital, some people were trying to convince him to go to the bigger and more well-known schools. However, the running back wanted the chance to play as soon as he got on campus.
At schools like Tennessee, Baylor and Georgia Tech, Vital would have been red-shirted and forced to sit out his freshman year. Also, he would be competing against four or five other players for the running back position.
"I wanted to play," Vital said. "I felt if I was redshirted or relegated to the bench behind three or four guys, I would have lost my love for the game."
Vital will continue to play running back at Idaho. He'll have his work cut out for him since the Vandals have a dandy of a runner in Deonte` Jackson.
Jackson's campaign ranked fourth all-time for carries (240), seventh all-time for yards (1,175) and sixth all-time for all-purpose rushing plays as a freshman for the Vandals.
Another big factor in Vital's decision was the academics. The University of Idaho offers a criminal justice major that wasn't available at some of the other schools recruiting the running back.
Vital wants to be a laywer. He'll be heading to Moscow in June after graduation.
Idaho competes in the Division I Western Athletic Conference. They finished a disappointing 1-11 last year and went winless in conference play.
The commitment of Vital is another sign that Vandals second-year head coach Akey continues to make Texas recruiting a top priority. Last year, Idaho signed three players from the state: Dewey Hale, Quin Ashley and class 5A Defensive Player of the Year Justin Allen.
Verbal commitments are nonbinding. The national signing period begins Feb. 6.
Contact Evan Mohl at the Killeen Daily Herald: firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7564