WVU Football: Next Steps Include Review, Roster Rebuild And Recruiting

West Virginia receiver Sam Brown (17) is gang-tackled by defenders, including James Thomas (left) and Scottie Young (19)

With spring football practice in the rearview mirror, West Virginia’s program enters a period of evaluation, along with a bit of downtime for players. However, many changes in the college game, including the reopening of recruiting and the need to rebuild rosters in the age of open transfers, will likely make the upcoming months the busiest ever for coaches across the nation.

At WVU, the completion of the spring game on April 24 put a cap on the Mountaineers’ 15 practice sessions and set the focus on academics and review.

“We have some work to finish up in the classroom,” head coach Neal Brown noted – an area in which his team has had few overt issues during his tenure. His focus on solid academic standing among the players he recruits has helped in that regard, with few having to worry about initial qualification and many excelling in their work. The last day of classes at WVU is Monday, May 3, with final exams running May 4-8.

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Also underway are individual reviews of the players, and meetings with each to discuss where they stand, areas to improve and the development of plans to assist in those goals. Brown indicated that the review of spring drills as a whole took place this past week.

“Our scouting department, that Matt Jansen leads, will do an independent evaluation on everybody that may play (this year). Our coaches will do position evaluations. Then we’ll sit down with every player, the position coach, and myself and we’ll give them feedback,” Brown explained.

“Feedback is really important. Everybody craves it, whether it’s a player, an employee or a boss. We’ll finish up with that. Then we’ll have some time off in May, and come back around Memorial Day and get the summer started.”

Matt Jansen (WVU photo)

Jansen, who came to WVU in 2019, has had wide-ranging duties in his short time at WVU. He scouts and assists in all areas of game analysis and planning, and has also served in recruiting and player personnel roles. In doing so, he draws on nearly a decade of NFL experience, having worked in college scouting and player personnel roles with the Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens from 2011-18.

One of the bigger and newer challenges over the summer will be the rebuilding of the roster. WVU, like every most every other school in the nation, has seen a number of players exit with the advent of the one-time no-penalty transfer rule. Reasons for those individual transfers abound, but the result is that programs will be working and recruiting throughout the summer to bring in replacements to fill some of those gaps.

The raw numbers of transfers are staggering, but a closer examination reveals a lesser, yet still significant impact.

Since the start of this academic year, WVU has seen 26 football players enter the portal. Of those, however, nine were walk-ons. Another 10 scholarship players saw very limited or no snaps in 2020. Still, the loss of players such as Jeffery Pooler, Tykee Smith, Dreshun Miller and Alec Sinkfield leaves gaps that will have to be filled, and with the number of initial scholarships given in any one year still limited to 25, a one-to-one replacement isn’t possible.

“You have to be versatile. You have 85 scholarships, but with the (transfer) rules it’s impossible,” Brown said of getting back to a full roster complement. “You’re never going to get there. So with your depth, it’s not going to be what it used to be. Your best players have to be versatile enough to move around and play a couple of positions.”

Brown noted that some experimentation with that work went well in the spring.

“Akheem Mesidor playing more on the interior, (that move) sticks,” he said of shuffling up front.  “He became more comfortable in there and he can go back out to play on the edge. Devell Washington (moving to linebacker) will take some time to come along. James Gmiter at center, he can play there if need be. Doug Nester got reps at guard and tackle, and Parker Moorer did the same.  I am pleased with what we got accomplished.”

While the departure of some players who would have been anchors, both on the field and in the locker room, definitely stings, it’s something that just about every program is experiencing. It adds another hurdle to the team-building process, but Brown remains optimistic.

“I like this team that we have right now. I believe our program and our players. I think the chemistry in our staff, and the type of people we have, will allow us to do what we want to do here – and that’s win a championship.”

Home Page forums WVU Football: Next Steps Include Review, Roster Rebuild And Recruiting

  • This topic has 8 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated by Butlereer.
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  • #145845

    With spring football practice in the rearview mirror, West Virginia’s program enters a period of evaluation, along with a bit of downtime for players.
    [See the full post at: WVU Football: Next Steps Include Review, Roster Rebuild And Recruiting]

    #145846

    How many scholarships does WVU have still available to use for this upcoming season?

    #145873

    Lee, wanted to clarify your question. Do you mean how many remain in the Class of 2021, or for the Class of 2022?

    #145934
    JAL

    It is the new world of college sports.  Players can leave as easily as the coaches can.

    I understand leaving to get more playing time.  More concerned about starters leaving.  Guess the job of coaches to make the team attractive  enough that players want to stay and others want to come.

     

    #145938

    Class of 2021. I was curious about how much they could add to the team this summer for this upcoming season.

    #145947

    I think there are 3-4 that are still open, with a couple of those that are taken up by transfers who have committed but aren’t here yet.

    That doesn’t mean more players might not be added, though. Players could come in without a scholarship this fall, then be put on scholarship in January and “counted forward” to the 2022 class. There can also be players added who didn’t make an official visit and weren’t visted at their homes by WVU (That classifies them as unrecruited players). They can be put on scholarship immediately and don’t count against the 25 limit. That’s rare, but it can happen.

    #145959

    KK, on the latter does that only apply to high school players?  Or could it apply to JC players as well?

    Also a couple of roster questions/observations.  Faverus is listed as a LB in one listing, as a CB in another.  I’m also guessing he could be looked at for the Spear position as well sometime down the road.  I know he was injured but did you get a sense of his status, for lack of a better term, in the eyes of the staff before he was injured?

    I thought it was interesting that Malone has apparently moved ahead of Hughes among the tackle candidates.  Would seem that would make Malone a candidate for moving from walk-on status to scholarship status unless there are other factors in play that we do not know about.  That development adds to the hope that, generally, some of the other younger players on the roster may have more potential, in the eyes of the coaches, then the average fan may realize.

    Based on the above some other young players I am curious about, who might make some nice advances between now and next October/November, would be:  S. Martin, J. Jefferson, L. Carr, E. Watkins, J. Thomas.  Did you see enough of the spring practices to form your own opinion as to the potential of the above players?  Any others you might have been impressed with that we may not know about?

    The coaches spoke highly of J. White last fall and apparently that is holding true at this point.  Based on modern trends he is a bit on the “smallish” size, if a 300 pounder can be considered “smallish”.  Any thoughts on what it is they like most about him, also strengths and/or weaknesses from your observations?

    #145963

    KK, on the latter does that only apply to high school players?  Or could it apply to JC players as well?

    It would apply to JCs also.

    I’ve fixed the Faverus contradiction. He’s a will backer. I agree that he has the abilities to play spear, maybe that’s a look next year after Young departs. Didn’t get the chance to watch him this spring because of the injury, so my in-person observations were thin.

    S. Martin, J. Jefferson, L. Carr, E. Watkins, J. Thomas.

    I think Martin has a lot of potential, and he will have to be in the rotation a little more with the departure of Pooler. Has a lot of length, and he can generate a lot of leverage and keep blockers away from him.

    Jefferson got a lot of reps this spring – WVU needs him to be a plugger in the DL. I was a little disappointed that he seemed to stall last year, but maybe that was because he played some as freshman before he was ready, and that skewed my perceptions. Either way, he’s another player that WVU needs to get 15-20 snaps from.

    Carr, Simmons and Watkins I’ll lump all together, although they are at different positions. Good potential, but still learning. Watkins got the enthusiasm award for the spring, so that’s encouraging. I would say they are all competing to try to get some snaps, but not close to the starters in abilities yet. If one or two of them can get to a backup role, and especially contribute on special teams, I think that’s a reasonable goal.

    I thought White moved pretty well when I watched him — better than many of the other OLs. I was really trying to watch mobility and short area quickness for the OLs this spring, because I though that was really lacking last year. I think he can be as good as the other interior OLs this year.

    Others: Davis Mallinger is really athletic and hits hard. Next year he could be a defensive starter. Like the L’Trell Bradley transfer too – he was around the ball a lot.

    #145970

    “There can also be players added who didn’t make an official visit and weren’t visted at their homes by WVU (That classifies them as unrecruited players). They can be put on scholarship immediately and don’t count against the 25 limit. That’s rare, but it can happen.”

    Kevin.  Did not know that.  Interesting that we can bring in “unrecruited” players on schollie.  HS kids that could be PWO’s put immediately on schollie if we did not visit them “in home” or they make an “official” Same with JC’s.

    Hmmmm..  Target a JC, visit him at a coffee shop down the street off campus and have him just show up in Morgantown and casually bump into his position coach to talk.  Target a HS kid and visit him at his HS coach’s house and the player jumps in his car for a Sunday drive to Morgantown with his parents to “look around”.

    Isn’t that how Zona and the other unscrupulous teams do it?  We do have a LOT of PWO’s this year compared to prior years.  At least this year Brown has released those names to us very early.  Hmmmmm….

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Home Page forums WVU Football: Next Steps Include Review, Roster Rebuild And Recruiting

Home Page forums WVU Football: Next Steps Include Review, Roster Rebuild And Recruiting