Recruiting Roundup: WVU’s Offensive Needs
The early National Letter of Intent signing period is a couple weeks away (Dec. 18-20), and Neal Brown’s football program still has some work left to do before it puts a bow on the class of 2020.
First of all the numbers. Because WVU brought in a couple of players last August via blue shirt status – meaning their scholarships counted ahead to the next class and not back to the last one – the Mountaineers only have 23 scholarships at their disposal for the class of 2020. With 15 verbal commitments to date from player who are all expected to sign LOIs on Dec. 18, that leaves West Virginia with just eight more scholarships left for this class. Don’t expect WVU to use all eight available scholarships with Dec. 18 signees, though, as Brown has said he’ll kept a few scholarships in reserve for either late signees (Feb. 5 will be the start of the next LOI period, which is lightly used since the advent of the early date) or transfers, many of whom won’t start looking for new schools until the spring or summer. So, the Mountaineers will likely sign in the neighborhood of 20 players on Dec. 18, and then keep any further grants-in-aid in their pocket for use later on down the line.
With all that said, here is a look at what West Virginia’s class of 2020 already has and what it still needs. Of course, there are always more needs than scholarships available. Brown would love to have 20 more schollies to use, but in truth, he has eight left and only four to six of those going to recruits who will sign this month.
We’ll start today with the offensive side and then in a couple of days dive into the defensive recruits.
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Committed (1) – Garrett Greene (6-0, 180 lbs., Chiles H.S./Tallahassee, FL) Greene led the Timberwolves to a 6-5 record and a spot in Florida’s Class 7A state playoffs this fall. The dual-threat QB rushed for 896 yards and 14 TDs on the season while throwing for 1,025 yards and eight more scores.
Additional QB needs (0?) – Greene will almost certainly be the only quarterback WVU signs in December, but if the position features significant attrition from current players transferring out of West Virginia, the Mountaineers may have to go out in the spring and search the transfer portal or the juco ranks to add depth to the quarterback spot.
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Committed (1) – Lamy Constant (6-0, 185 lbs., Canarsie H.S./Brooklyn, NY) Injuries limited Constant during his senior season, as Canarsie finished with a 4-6 record. Still, Constant is a four-star recruit who will enter West Virginia with high expectations.
Additional RB needs (0) – none
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Wide Receiver/Tight End
Committed (3) – Reese Smith (WR, 5-11, 175 lbs., Boyle County H.S./Danville, KY), Devell Washington (WR, 6-4, 210 lbs., Central H.S./Bay City, MI), and Charles Finley (TE, 6-4, 215 lbs., DePaul Catholic H.S./Wayne, NJ) Smith has helped Boyle County to a 14-0 record and a spot in Kentucky’s Class 4A state championship where the Rebels will face Johnson Central (14-0) Saturday afternoon at UK’s Kroger Field. To this point, despite playing the second half of the season with a sprained ankle, Smith has 51 catches for 1,353 yards with 19 touchdowns. He also has rushed the ball seven times for 128 yards and three more scores. As a safety for Boyle County, which is the alma mater of WVU head coach Neal Brown, Smith has 27 tackles and seven interceptions. As for Washington, he had 29 receptions for 410 yards and four TDs this past season, though Central stumbled to a 3-6 record. Shortly after the season ended, Washington transferred from Central to nearby Saginaw Arthur Hill High School with the hope of graduating in time to enroll at WVU in January. Like Smith, Finley has also led his team to the state title game, as DePaul Catholic (6-4) will meet Mater Dei Saturday night at Rutgers Stadium for the NJSIAA non-public Group 3 championship. Finley had three catches for 35 yards and one TD in DePaul’s 35-21 victory over Donovan Catholic (9-2) in last week’s semifinal.
Additional WR/TE needs (1 WR, 0 TE) – WVU is still actively recruiting the receiver position and seems intent on adding another to this class. Johnquai Lewis (6-0, 170 lbs., Champagnat Catholic H.S./Hialeah, FL), Xavier Hill (6-2, 193 lbs., Pleasant Grove H.S./Pleasant Grove, AL), and Douglas Emilien (6-0, 172 lbs., American Heritage H.S./Plantation, FL) all have the Mountaineers high on their lists. Emilien recently verbally committed to Minnesota, so it remains unclear if he’ll follow through with his scheduled trip to WVU this coming weekend.
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Committed (3) – Zach Frazier (6-2, 285 lbs., Fairmont Senior H.S./Fairmont, WV), Jacob Gamble (6-6, 295 lbs., Iowa Western C.C./Doylestown, OH), and Chris Mayo (6-5, 300 lbs., Peddie School/Highstown, NJ) Frazier, who will be a center for the Mountaineers, and Mayo, who could play guard or tackle, are both outstanding prospects, but as true freshmen next season, both will likely need a year or two of development before either makes a major impact at the college level. A product from one of the nation’s best junior college programs, the hope is that Gamble can provide immediate help WVU’s offensive line needs if it is to shore up its 2019 weak areas. Gamble’s Reivers lost three early season games this season but bounced back to win seven straight. They will take an 8-3 record into the Dec. 8 Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where they will meet Hinds Community College (7-2) from Raymond, Mississippi.
Additional OL needs (2) – WVU’s coaches would like one more high school offensive lineman in this class, though they will probably also look to add another older immediately-eligible o-lineman if they can find the right fit in the junior college or grad transfer ranks. From the high school side, West Virginia has long been recruiting Anthony Carter (6-4, 296 lbs., Butler H.S./Matthews, NC), but he seems to focusing primarily on N.C. State, UNC and Virginia Tech. Jordan White (6-3, 310 lbs., DeMatha Catholic H.S./Hyattsville, MD) committed to Maryland last March but then decommitted from the Terps this fall. WVU quickly jumped into the mix for the big offensive guard, as did Georgia Tech, LSU, Syracuse and Wisconsin. In terms of another possible juco lineman, Tairiq Stewart (6-3, 335 lbs., Asa College/Warrensville, OH) is a player the Mountaineers have their eyes on. Maryland and Tennessee seem to be WVU’s top competitors for Stewart, who holds 15 DI scholarship offers. His only drawback may be the fact that the northeast Ohio native won’t graduate from Asa, which is located in Brooklyn, until May of 2020.