Traditional Signing Day Has Only a Couple Of Targets

Traditional Signing Day Has Only a Couple Of Targets

In years past, the first Wednesday in February meant high drama for major college football programs, as it was the start of the National Letter of Intent signing period.

A couple dozen prospects would put pen to paper and officially commit to their schools of choice.

The February signing period has lost much of its intrigue, though, as a new NCAA rule this year allowed prospects to sign their Letters of Intent in December. For most FBS programs, 70 to 80 percent of their recruiting class was secured during that early signing period.

That was true at West Virginia as well, as 20 prospects signed binding Letters of Intent with the Mountaineers on Dec. 20. But Dana Holgorsen’s squad still has upwards of six scholarships available for its class of 2018. Some of those available grants in aid will awarded on Wednesday, Feb. 7, though WVU also figures to hold one or two back for traditional transfers and graduate transfers who may become available later this spring or even in the summer.

Of the 20 Mountaineer signees from this past December, eight of them have already enrolled at WVU. The other 12 are slated to enroll this summer.

To this group of 20, West Virginia already have verbal commitments to add four more – offensive linemen Joe Brown, offensive linemen Mike Brown, defensive end Tavis Lee and punter Angus Davies.

There could be other signees who join these four, but that list is not very long for the Mountaineers.

In fact, WVU appears to have just two more targets who could sign during this period – junior college defensive lineman Emmit Gooden and junior college safety Marlon Character.

Gooden is a 6-foot-4, 285-pound interior defensive lineman from Brownsville, Tenn., who has spent the past two seasons at Independence (Kansas) Community College.

Despite playing d-line, Gooden led Independence in tackles this past year, recording 81 stops to go along with one sack and 6.5 tackles for lost yardage. He helped the Pirates to a 9-2 overall record.

While he also had offers from TCU, Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisville, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi State, Alabama and Arizona State, he recently narrowed his list to West Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas. He took an official visit to WVU the weekend of Jan. 27-28 and was at Tennessee this past week. Originally a Volunteer commitment while in high school, Gooden ended up in the juco ranks after coming up short academically. Last summer he committed to Arkansas, but when Bret Bielema was fired as the Razorbacks’ head coach, Gooden re-opened his recruitment. He’s expected to sign with one of the three on his list on Wednesday.

A native of Atlanta, the 6-foot, 200-pound Character started his college career at Auburn, but left the Tigers after one redshirt season and wound up at Northwest Mississippi Community College this past fall. Playing safety for the Rangers, he finished the 2017 season with 28 tackles and seven pass deflections, as well as two blocked kicks. Character was a teammate of recent WVU enrollee Joshua Norwood while at Northwest Mississippi, and both are from the same juco that also sent Justin Crawford, Quondarius Qualls and Jalen Harvey to West Virginia.

Character appears likely to pick between WVU and Louisville.

There always can be further signing day surprises, but right now it seems that Gooden and Character are the two prospects the Mountaineers are waiting on heading into the traditional signing period.

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