Observations And Notes On WVU’s Football Recruiting
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Of the 18 football players who signed National Letters of Intent with West Virginia last Wednesday, five of them are slated to enroll at WVU when the spring semester begins on Jan. 13.
According to Mountaineer head coach Neal Brown, defensive backs Jairo Faverus and Jackie Matthews, wide receiver Reese Smith, quarterback Garrett Greene and defensive lineman Quay Mays are all going to get a jumpstart on their West Virginia careers by enrolling next month. Not only will that allow them to get ahead on their academics, but it will also permit them to participate in the Mountaineers’ winter strength and conditioning workouts as well as their 15 spring practice sessions.
Matthews and Mays are junior college transfers, while Faverus, who is a native of Amsterdam, Netherlands, is transitioning from the Bristol Academy of Sports in England to the United States. Smith and Green are graduating from their respective high schools a semester early.
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Faverus will not be the first European to play football for West Virginia University. He’s not even the first product of the Bristol Academy to suit up for the Mountaineers.
Eric Sjostedt was an offensive lineman at WVU the past three years. A native of Ystad, Sweden, Sjostedt also honed his football skills at the Bristol Academy of Sports, which is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) west of London. He walked on to the Mountaineer football program in 2017. He did not see in any game action over the next three years, and now on track to earn his geography degree this spring, he is not planning on playing football for WVU next season.
Curtis Feigt, a native of Germany, was a scholarship lineman at West Virginia from 2009-13. He left his home in Berlin in high school to attend Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy, where he caught the attention of U.S. college football programs. After he signed with WVU, Feigt developed into a starter at offensive tackle for the Mountaineers as a junior or senior, and after that had a stint on the practice squad with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Faverus, though, is the first scholarship football player WVU has signed directly from Europe who hasn’t spent time first at an American prep school.
The defensive back from Amsterdam is likely not going to be the last to make such a journey, though. West Virginia already has a commitment from Victor Wikstrom, who is a tight end from Uppsala, Sweden.
Faverus is one of over a dozen Europeans football players to sign with U.S. colleges this year who worked with Brandon Collier of PPI Recruits. Wikstrom, who is also part of Collier’s group, will be part of the next wave that figures to just keep growing.
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The Mountaineers signed prospects from 10 states and two foreign countries, but they didn’t sign any who were currently attending school in either Ohio or Pennsylvania. (Offensive lineman Tairiq Stewart is a native of Warrensville, Ohio, which is near Cleveland, but he’s currently attending a junior college, ASA College, in Brooklyn. New York.)
While Ohio and Pennsylvania have long been key recruiting territories for WVU’s football program, this year’s misses are not unprecedented.
West Virginia didn’t sign a prospect from Ohio in 2017, and in 2012 and 2015, the only student-athletes WVU signed from Pennsylvania both were juco players from Lackawanna College (wide receiver Ka’Raun White in 2015 and offensive lineman Mark Glowinski in 2012).
“We have do better in some areas — Pennsylvania and Ohio in particular,” admitted Brown, though the Mountaineers did reach back into the New Jersey high school ranks for prospects for the first time since quarterback Chris Chugunov in 2015. “But we’re making some inroads, and sometimes it takes developing the relationships you need.”
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Recruits who went elsewhere:
• Lakevias Daniel (DB, 6-1, 177 lbs., Jones County (Miss.) J.C./Louisville, Mississippi) signed with Ole Miss.
• Justin Jackson (DL, 6-2, 280 lbs., Northwest Mississippi C.C./Olive Branch, Miss.) signed with Colorado.
• Osita Smith (DB, 6-2, 195 lbs., Milford (N.Y.) Academy/Columbia, Md.) has committed to Maryland but has not signed yet.
• JoVanni Stewart (DB, 5-8, 196 lbs., WVU transfer/Katy, Texas) has signed as a graduate transfer with the University of Houston.
• Tevin Bush (WR, 5-6, 166 lbs., WVU transfer/New Orleans, La.) has signed as a transfer with Nicholls, an FCS program where he’ll be eligible to play next season.
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Those still available:
• Wes Bailey (DL, 6-5, 230 lbs., Clearwater (FL) Academy/Ontario, Canada) A teammate of WVU signee Akheem Mesidor, Bailey has not yet signed. West Virginia, Illinois and Minnesota seem to be at the top of his list.
• Eddie Watkins (DL, 6-4, 225 lbs., Hillcrest H.S./Evergreen, AL) is a former Georgia Tech commit who decided to look elsewhere. Purdue has been pursuing Watkins heavily, and he also visited WVU. He hasn’t signed with any program yet, though.
• Lamy Constant (RB, 6-0, 190 lbs., Canarsie H.S./Brooklyn, N.Y.) committed to WVU on Nov. 12 but then decommitted on Dec. 8. While he still remains unsigned, it doesn’t appear the Mountaineers are in his future.
• Jacob Gamble (OL, 6-6, 294 lbs., Iowa Western C.C./Doylestown, Ohio) committed to the Mountaineers back in June, but he did not sign with WVU – or anyone else – during the early period. He’s reportedly pushed off his inking his National Letter of Intent until February.
• A’Varius Sparrow (6-9, 190 lbs., Jones H.S./Orlando, Fla.) is a back who has interest from West Virginia, but he is apparently going to hold off his decision until February.
• La’Damian Webb (5-8, 190 lbs., Jones County (Miss.) C.C./Opelika, Ala.) has said he is not going to sign until February. He’s definitely got West Virginia’s full attention, as the Mountaineers seek to fill their running back need in this class. A first-team NJCAA All-American, Webb averaged 104.4 rushing yards per game this past year for JCCC. He originally signed with Mississippi State coming out of Beauregard High School, where he was Mr. Football in the state of Alabama. He had to go the junior college route, though, and now seemingly is going to decide between Oklahoma State and West Virginia.