Clock Ticking Away Towards Signing Day For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The clock is ticking and the start of the spring National Letter of Intent signing period for college football teams is not that many hours way.
For Neal Brown and his Mountaineer football staff, that means some anxious hours, as on-campus and face-to-face contact ceased Monday with the start of a dead period. Coaches and recruits can still contact each other via telephone and electronic communications, and there will last-moment reaching out to try to complete the Class of 2019 over Tuesday and Wednesday.
The next communication they receive will be when the fax machine chimes and spits out letters of intent on February 6. And yes, even in the modern world, most LOIs still come through via the old-fashioned fax.
When Brown took over as WVU’s head coach in early January, he had seven scholarships remaining for the class of 2019, though he only plans to use five or six of them. He wants to save one or two for a late qualifier or transfer.
He filled one of those scholarship slots when Oklahoma quarterback Austin Kendall transferred to West Virginia a few weeks ago. Then Cocoa, Fla., safety Rasean Lynn (6-5, 181 lbs.) took up a second scholarship when he verbally committed to the Mountaineers this past weekend.
WVU seemingly is dealing with nine other prospects for those final three or four scholarship spots.
Here is the latest on each:
Darnell Wright (OL, 6-6, 275 lbs., Huntington H.S./Huntington, W.Va.) – The five-star offensive lineman visited Tennessee this past weekend. Wright did visit WVU the week before, but the Volunteers get the enviable position of being the last visit. Most think UT is the school to beat. (Odds Wright signs with WVU – 25 percent)
Doug Nester (OL, 6-6, 300 lbs., Spring Valley H.S./Ona, W.Va.) – A four-star recruit, Nester committed to Ohio State in the summer of 2017 but he did not sign with the Buckeyes during the December LOI period. Nester visited Virginia Tech this past weekend, and now the Ohio State recruiting observers are reporting that the Spring Valley lineman probably won’t sign with the Bucks, but instead seems likely to be a Hokie. (Odds Nester signs with WVU – 7 percent)
Jordan Jefferson (DL, 6-4, 290 lbs., Navarre H.S./Navarre, Fla.) – Jefferson released his final four options on Monday, which featured Florida Atlantic, Louisville, Kansas State and WVU. West Virginia likely heads that list, but the fact he hasn’t committed to the Mountaineers yet, after visiting Jan. 26-27, leaves room for a little concern. (Odds Jefferson signs with WVU – 80 percent)
Tavian Mayo (CB, 5-11, 180 lbs., Lee County H.S./Leesburg, Ga.) Mayo visited WVU the weekend of Jan. 26-27. When he left, most thought he was ready to commit to the Mountaineers, but like Jefferson, the fact he hasn’t announced a decision yet leaves some worried. Nebraska and Louisville also are in play. (Odds Mayo signs with WVU – 85 percent)
Tacorey Turner (DB, 6-2, 185 lbs., Park Crossing H.S./Montgomery, Ala.) Turner was a former Troy commit who now is looking around. Mississippi State and West Virginia are involved, but he visited Colorado on Jan. 26-27 and the Buffs are probably now in the lead. (Odds Turner signs with WVU – 8 percent)
Collin Duncan (CB, 6-0, 192 lbs., St. James School/Montgomery, Ala) Not much new has come out about Duncan’s recruitment in the last week. WVU still is involved, though Vanderbilt, where his brother C.J. Duncan is a receiver, seems to be school to beat. (Odds Duncan signs with WVU – 10 percent)
M.J. Devonshire (CB, 5-11, 180 lbs., Aliquippa H.S./Aliquippa, Pa.) Kentucky had an in-home visit with the highly-regarded Aliquippa athlete last week, but so did Pitt. The Panthers pulled out all the stops when they came to his Aliquippa home, bringing not only multiple coaches but also the Pitt equipment truck. It appears very likely Devonshire will sign with the Panthers. (Odds Devonshire signs with WVU – 3 percent)
Jamel Starks (DB, 5-11, 185 lbs., Southwest Dekalb H.S./Decatur, Ga.) This past weekend, Starks released his final three, listing North Carolina State, Louisville and Nebraska. West Virginia seems to be completely out of the picture. (Odds Starks signs with WVU – 0.1 percent)
Juwan Johnson (WR, 6-4, 225 lbs., Penn State University/Glassboro, N.J.) A grad transfer from Penn State, Johnson finds himself in high demand. He visited WVU the weekend of Jan. 26-27, and then was at Oregon Feb. 1-2. Duck quarterback Justin Herbert reportedly hosted Johnson during his visit, trying to get him to replace NFL-bound Dillon Mitchell as Oregon’s No. 1 receiver. (Odds Johnson signs with WVU – 30 percent)
Overview – Jordan Jefferson and Tavian Mayo are likely headed to West Virginia, joining Rasean Lynn, Austin Kendall and the 16 December signees in this class. After that, there are no guarantees. WVU still is pushing for Darnell Wright and Juwan Johnson, but the competition for each is steep.