WVU’s Belk Excels In Georgia Recruiting
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Like Willie Nelson, Dana Holgorsen has had Georgia on his mind a lot these days.
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)”
That’s how Nelson’s rendition of the Ray Charles song that reached No. 1 began, and Holgorsen is hoping Georgia can help get his West Virginia football team to No. 1 in the college rankings.
The Mountaineers, led by cornerbacks coach Doug Belk, have put an all-out blitz on Georgia high school players for the past few years, and this year it really paid dividends as they landed five prospects with Georgia ties among the 16 newcomers who signed on Wednesday’s first of the early three-day signing period.
Coming from the state that gave us Ray Charles, peaches and Jimmy Carter’s peanuts was linebacker Jared Bartlett out of Shawnee, Ga., cornerback Nicktroy Fortune of Roswell in suburban Atlanta, cornerback Dreshun Miller from Kennesaw, Ga., by way of Eastern Arizona Community College, and wide receiver Winston Wright of Pooler, Ga.
Additionally, running back Tony Mathis, a native of Orlando, Fla., played in Cedartown, Ga., this year.
“I said Georgia
A song of you
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines”
“I want to give Coach Belk a shout out just for doing a great job in Georgia. That’s been a high priority of ours; we’ve really focused on Georgia these last few years. I spent all three weeks pretty much down in Georgia in December, and it’s outstanding football down there” Holgorsen said.
“We’re going to continue to work hard at getting guys from that area. He brought in four high-school guys from there, and then Dreshun (Miller), the junior-college corner was a big get for us, he’ll be here in January. He’s originally from Georgia, played with the (Joe and Michael) Brown brothers and Isaiah Esdale out in Arizona, so we had some connections out there that were good.
At 6-2 and 185 pounds, with two years of top line junior college experience behind him, Miller is the kind of player that WVU has been seeking for play in the pass-happy Big 12.
He led Eastern Arizona Community College to the 2018 National Junior College Championship game.
Holgorsen, whose coaching career included an early stop in Georgia at Valdosta, admitted he wished he’d discovered Georgia’s talent a little earlier.
“We’ve had great success with guys in the past … Pac Man Jones and Bruce Irvin. They have good coaching there so the kids are well coached and it’s easy to get there, like eight flights a day between Pittsburgh and Atlanta.”
Overall, it was an interesting group that WVU brought in this year.
It had no quarterback but Holgorsen indicated he needed another one to go with Jack Allison and Trey Lowe III and it would probably be a transfer.
There also was only one running back, Mathis, a 1,000-yard rusher, as WVU returns all four of their running backs this yer.
There were four wide receivers including the 5-10, 160-pound wisp of a receiver from Georgia, Winston Wright, Ali Jennings from Virginia and Ternce Doston of Tampa. Isaiah Esdale, who enrolled last August, counts with this class.
There was an emphasis on offensive linemen with four coming in, including a 6-7, 310-pound mountain of a tackle from Fredericksburg, Va., Donavan Beaver.
Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson picked up only two defensive linemen in Jalen Thornton, son of former Mountaineer great John Thornton, and a 6-5, 250-pound pass rusher Tajih Alston from North Carolina but admits that adding at least one more is a priority.
WVU also grabbed off what may be a big time two-way kicker in Kolton McGhee from Altoona.
But, all in all, it was a day to celebrate Georgia.
“Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
No peace, no peace I find
Just this old, sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
I said just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind”