Ranked or not, WVU satisfied with class
Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 23:02
West Virginia signed just 17 members to its 2011 recruiting class Wednesday.
For the first time in head coach Bill Stewart's tenure, no five-star athletes were signed. Only three four-star prospects joined the team.
But while the mood inside the Milan Puskar Center on Wednesday clearly wasn't as joyous as it has been in year's past, the Mountaineer coaching staff wasn't tremendously disappointed with the job it have done thus far.
While the defensive staff maintained all of its commitments throughout the postseason coaching changes, the newly formed offensive staff was another story.
Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen's staff of Bill Bedenbaugh, Shannon Dawson and Robert Gillespie had only the following players on its offensive commit list:
A quarterback, Brian Athey, who doesn't truly fit Holgorsen's new offensive system after coming from a predominantly running offense in Eden Prairie, Minn.
West Virginia native Cody Clay, whose position of tight end is rarely used in Holgorsen's offense.
Justin Johnson, the brother of current WVU offensive lineman Josh Jenkins, whose only other offers came from Marshall and Ohio University.
Two receivers, Dante Campbell and Kenneth "K.J" Myers, who both were committed to members of the old coaching staff.
Yet, look on the Mountaineers' list of signees and it's obvious the staff was still able to sign players that it needed.
Topping the list was the quarterback position, after the departure of the team's second- and third-string signal callers from a year ago, while starting quarterback Geno Smith may miss some spring practice after foot surgery.
Holgorsen jokingly said Wednesday that if he didn't get quarterbacks, he might as well cancel spring camp. While WVU didn't sign a quarterback Wednesday, it did secure Paul Millard from Texas, who Holgorsen said is underrated.
Offensive line was a clear weakness for the Mountaineers a season ago. But Bedenbaugh hauled in two tackles and a guard, finishing with four offensive linemen in the class – an impressive feat, according to Holgorsen.
Additionally, four-star prospect Andrew Buie, undervalued 5-foot-8 Dustin Garrison and standout Vernard Roberts all were added to the depleted running back stable.
The class of 17 is by far the lowest total WVU has signed since 2005's class of 19 players.
The class isn't ranked inside the top 20, top 30 or even the top 50.
But the Mountaineers' recruiting class should be considered relatively successful, considering the little time the staff had to work with. Holgorsen said, in some instances, the coaches were only able to see a prospect twice.
The staff could have signed more, specifically at the receiver position, Holgorsen said, but the staff chose quality over quantity.
The low number also frees up space for next year's class or the additional or junior college players, like the Mountaineers' did with Lackawanna College transfer Josh Francis this season.
In the short month that the new staff members have been with West Virginia, they have started a foundation in the state of Texas. Holgorsen said Wednesday that, judging by his presence in the Lonestar State in the last month, the program has a future there.
Much of their recruiting success in the Midwest, however, will come this spring and summer, Holgorsen said. The coach said high school players in the Midwest typically commit to a school prior to their senior season and stick with that commitment until signing day – another reason why WVU's success in Texas might not have been as obvious in the 2011 class.
No, Wednesday wasn't the best day for the West Virginia coaching staff. But, all things considered, the Mountaineers did just fine.