Mountaineers Focusing On Transfers
By Bob Hertzel
Make no doubt, we have entered into a new era as far as recruiting football players at West Virginia.
Whereas, once upon a time, the heart of a school’s recruiting methods were heavily centered on high school players, the emphasis has changed to the point that WVU, under Dana Holgorsen, has created something of an open door policy with an emphasis on older, more mature players who fit a need, often a more immediate need.
With a high school kid, you have to nurture him along, get him in the weight room, teach him the program, get him initiated to college life. You live with the immaturity as you wait for the payoff.
While that has not been abandoned, Holgorsen clearly altered his philosophy to bring in transfers.
The transfer rules, of course, were loosened up when the NCAA put in its graduate transfer rule, which allowed a player who had graduated to use his remaining eligibility at another school.
Previously, a transfer was often a case of taking someone else’s problem off their hands, hoping you could make a connection as the player matured and tap into his talent.
This was especially true with junior college players, who often had academic problems or maturity problems.
But Holgorsen cast a net across the country, looking at everyone and anyone whose talent was such that he could help and was looking for a new home.
It has proven to be a bonanza for the program, with this last week offering more evidence of just the kind of players who suddenly are knocking on WVU’s door.
First, a four-star recruit from the University of Miami.
He’s a quarterback named Jack Allison, who was a dropback passer caught up in a read option system, decided to come to WVU, and it was not long after that when a three-star tight end, Jovani Haskins, announced he was coming to Morgantown, too.
He appeared to be the right kid in the wrong place, not getting on with coach Mark Richt, who had suspended him for the Russell Athletic Bowl victory over West Virginia.
“I talked to Jovani and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” Richt said. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
Just hours before Haskins announced via Twitter that he was coming to WVU, wide receiver T.J. Simmons, an Alabama receiver and a three-star recruit who scored 20 touchdowns on his 47 receptions as a high school senior, pledged himself to the Mountaineers.
This was something you don’t see everyday, a player leaving the top program in college football for WVU, especially one who seemed to have a future, considering he played in 12 games as a true freshman.
This is just the latest wave of transfers pouring into WVU from all over.
Think about it for a moment.
The list is staggering. We noted a week or so ago, when Allison committed, how well WVU had done with transfers from Florida, getting one from each of that state’s top football powers: This year’s starter, Will Grier from Florida, as well as Clint Trickett from Florida State and Allison from Miami.
Then there was Rushel Shell, one of the greatest high school players ever, who left Pitt and after a brief flirtation with UCLA, came to WVU.
And Charles Sims came and brought 1,000 rushing yards with him as a graduate transfer from Houston, stopping one year to get himself ready for the NFL.
Offensive lineman Kyle Bosch is a transfer from Michigan, as was Michael Ferns, one of the top prospects, so you have players from Florida, Florida State, Houston, Alabama, Miami and Michigan coming to WVU.
And this year WVU picked up graduate transfer Corey Winfield from Syracuse, currently caught up on a DUI situation, coming in to take the place of WVU All-American cornerback Rasul Douglas.
Yes, he was a junior college transfer from Nassau Community College in New York.
The JC’s have sent a slew of players — important players — to WVU. There was Trickett quarterbacking the past couple of years, the White brothers from Lackawanna, a family of star players that include Kevin, the wide receiver who was a first-round pick in the NFL draft, and Ka’Raun and Kyzir, both of whom have NFL written all over them.
Running back Justin Crawford, a thousand-yard rusher last year, came out of Northwest Mississippi Community College, as have defenders Jalen Harvey and Quondarius Qualls.
And on this year’s defense there’s junior college transfers Toyous Avery, Hakeem Bailey, Elijah Battle and Xavier Pegues.
The lesson? Well, if you’re a player who wants to play Division 1-A ball but don’t qualify right away, or if you don’t get to the college you wish to play for, stick to it, times are changing.
And if you are a coach, no need to lose sleep on signing day over a kid you don’t get. There’s a chance he’ll wind up at your school eventually, especially if that school is WVU.