Bennett Analysis: Most Pieces In Place, A Few Holes Still Need Filled
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–With 18 players signing during the early National Letter of Intent period, recruiting for West Virginia’s football class of 2020 has many of the pieces in place, though it still isn’t complete.
“I’m really excited about this class,” said Brian Bennett, who oversees WVU’s recruiting as director of player personnel. “There are a bunch of good fits in terms of what we needed and also personality-wise and people-wise. Obviously we feel they are good players. We competed against really good football teams to get them, and that’s what you expect when you recruit good players. I feel good about this class.”
The 18 signees for West Virginia’s class of 2020 come in many shapes, sizes and positions, but they don’t fill quite every need.
“We still have some holes for the ’20 class,” said Bennett, who is a native of Mobile, Alabama. “We have to get a running back. I think I know who I want that to be, but we have to go get him. We have some other spots we have to fill as well.”
The 2020 class is first full one for West Virginia head coach Neal Brown, who was hired in January of 2019, a few weeks after the early signees for the ’19 class had already inked their LOIs. Brown had previously been the head coach at Troy for four years, and Bennett had served as his director of player personnel with the Trojans as well.
When talking about his recruiting philosophy, Brown continually uses the word “relationships,” and it takes time for coaches to build those bonds with prospects.
Developing those relationships for members of the class of 2020 was a bit rushed according to the normal Brown timetable, but that won’t be an issue for future classes.
“For this class, there is still more recruiting to do,” noted Bennett. “And then the big part is that the work on the ’21 class has already started. We’ve been heavily recruiting those ’21 players, and we’ve already had two junior days. We’ve had our top guys on campus multiple times. It gets revved up here even more in the next month or so.
“We have no excuses in the ’21 class,” added the 2011 University of Louisville grad. “We didn’t have excuses for the ’20 class either; it just took a little more work. But we were behind with this class. For the ’21 class, we’ve already had several key players on campus multiple times, some of them three or four times or more. At this point last year, we didn’t even know who some of our key recruits for the ’20 class were. We were behind, but we worked hard and finished strong. There’s no doubt, though, that we’re in a really good spot for the ’21 class.”
While the Mountaineer football staff is already hard at work on the 2021 class – and 2022 and 2023 for that matter – it still has to finish filling some spots in the 2020 class. Running back, which was not a position WVU filled during its early signing period, is one of those areas that will have to be addressed during the next signing period, which starts Feb. 5.
West Virginia will be looking for other specific positions to add with future signings as well, but as much as anything, the Mountaineers are seeking to put together a complete roster with talent and depth throughout.
“Some of our needs changed as the season went along, but not that much,” noted Bennett. “That’s because from top to bottom, we needed to add quality players and needed to add depth. We may have a few places where we had more immediate needs than others, but we really have needs throughout the roster. I think most people understand that. I don’t think I’m revealing any kind of secret information. We need depth from top to bottom. We simply need good football players, so we’re adding guys at every position. There’s no one key spot, though obviously there are some that need more immediate help than others. We have a lot of o-linemen and d-linemen signed, but we’re always going to sign a bunch of those. I don’t like to tell big guys no, because big guys are hard to find. We’re going to keep hunting those.
“Things do change some depending on who leaves your program and who you add, who does well and who doesn’t. It’s always pretty much the same, though.”