WVU’s Recruiting Needs – Position By Position
Number currently on scholarship – 3, departing seniors – 1 (Will Grier), verbal commitments – 0
The skinny – WVU doesn’t have a known commitment from a quarterback currently in this class, so it would seem highly unlikely it will sign one on Wednesday. The Mountaineers will remain in the market for a QB after the early signing period, though. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them take a transfer at this position.
Number currently on scholarship – 4, departing seniors – 0, verbal commitments – 1 (Tony Mathis)
The skinny – With four underclassmen at the running back, WVU doesn’t need to add large numbers at this position. Mathis will almost certainly be the only scholarship running back in this class.
Number currently on scholarship – 12, departing seniors – 4 (Gary Jennings, David Sills, William Crest, Dominique Maiden), verbal commitments – 2 (Winston Wright, Terence Doston)
The skinny – West Virginia expects to sign three wide receivers on Wednesday, as Ali Jennings of Highland Springs, Va., will almost certainly join Wright and Doston as freshmen receivers in this class. WVU also has four promising receivers from last year’s class (Bryce Wheaton, Sam James, Randy Fields and Dillon Spalding), all of whom redshirted this season, so this group of seven will be the future of the position for the Mountaineers. It wouldn’t be a surprise, though, if West Virginia also looked to the transfer market later this spring or summer for one more receiver as it tries to rebuild the depth it had in 2018..
Number currently on scholarship – 5, departing seniors – 1 (Trevon Wesco), verbal commitments – 0
The skinny – It’s very unlikely WVU adds another scholarship tight end or fullback this year. Wesco leaves big shoes to fill but his backup, Jovani Haskins, returns, and true freshmen tight ends T.J. Banks and Mike O’Laughlin, each of whom was redshirt this season, both have shown promise. So, West Virginia’s tight end position doesn’t need added numbers, and the fullback spot, manned by Logan Thimons, doesn’t need any scholarship additions either.
Number currently on scholarship – 14, departing seniors – 2 (Yodny Cajuste, Isaiah Hardy), verbal commitments – 3 (Donavan Beaver, Parker Moorer, Brandon Yates)
The skinny – The numbers seem pretty straight forward in the OL – subtract two and add three, which leaves WVU in good shape numbers-wise at the offensive line position. West Virginia first has to hang on to all three, as USC is making a late push to flip Yates. But if the Mountaineers do ink all three verbals, they won’t need another young lineman this year. They are in the market for a juco transfer, though, to give them a little more experience within the group. Blake Bedier of Snow (Utah) Community College and Paiton Fears of Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College are two juco possibilities for WVU.
Number currently on scholarship – 11, departing seniors – 3 (Ezekiel Rose, Jabril Robinson, Kenny Bigelow), verbal commitments – 2 (Taijh Alston [JC] , Jalen Thornton)
The skinny – Alston is an edge rusher from the juco ranks who WVU hopes will provide immediate help, while Jalen Thornton, who is the son of former Mountaineer and NFL star John Thornton, is a future face at that position. Jalen is very good prospect, though like most young linemen, he’ll probably need a year in the weightroom to get physically ready for the college ranks. West Virginia would like to add at least one more defensive lineman to this group. Whether it goes searching this spring for another graduate transfer will probably be determined by the evaluation of current redshirt freshmen James Gmiter and Tyrese Allen. If the Mountaineer coaches are confident both can provide quality depth next year, than WVU probably doesn’t need a grad transfer to follow in the footsteps of Jabril Robinson and Kenny Bigelow. But if Gmiter and Allen need more time to prepare to become major contributors, than a grad transfer would seem likely.
Number currently on scholarship – 12, departing seniors – 0, verbal commitments – 1 (Jared Bartlett)
The skinny – If David Long waits one more year to give the NFL a try, than every linebacker on WVU’s current roster will return next season. Or at least all are eligible to return. From a group left incredible thin by injuries this past season, it could feature excellent depth next year with at least three experienced players at every one of the three linebacker spots. How it will all mix together remains to be seen, but the addition of Alabama transfer VanDarius Cowan and the return to full health of Charlie Benton, Dylan Tonkery, Quondarius Qualls, Brendan Ferns, Adam Hensley and Shea Campbell all could provide considerably more depth at the linebackers than WVU had this year. Thus beyond Bartlett, West Virginia doesn’t have a big need to add more linebacker signees.
Number currently on scholarship – 8, departing seniors – 2 (Dravon Askew-Henry, Toyous Avery), verbal commitments – 3 (Kerry Martin, Osita Smith, Tykee Smith)
The skinny – WVU doesn’t have huge scholarship numbers dedicated to the safety positions, considering it plays three at a time. Of course, JoVanni Stewart, who played linebacker this year and is counted in the numbers in that position currently, could move back to safety next year if the depth at linebacker becomes more stable in 2019. With the loss of starters Askew-Henry and Avery, the Mountaineers will look to those on the current roster to fill those first-team holes next year, but it has got to start finding safeties for the seasons beyond that. Martin, Osita Smith and Tykee Smith are good places to start, as those three high school recruits each has promise, but WVU would like to find at least one more to add this group. Isheem Young of Imhotep Academy in Philadelphia seems the most likely possible addition to the safety ranks. He’s visited West Virginia and may sign Wednesday.
Number currently on scholarship – 5, departing seniors – 0, verbal commitments – 2 (Nicktroy Fortune, Dreshun Miller [JC] )
The skinny – While WVU didn’t have a senior cornerback this year, it could use an upgrade at the position, and thus the need to add a quality junior college prospect like Dreshun Miller, who had considered LSU and Texas A&M before committing to West Virginia. On top of the need for some immediate help, the Mountaineers also face a turnover at the cornerback position after 2019, as Josh Norwood, Hakeem Bailey and Keith Washington, who were WVU’s three main corners this past season, all will be seniors next year. A couple current safeties (Derrek Pitts and Sean Mahone) have previously played corner but moved to safety this year. Either could move back to CB if need be, but West Virginia must to start adding younger corners to the pipeline as well. Fortune is definitely one, and the Mountaineers also hope to sign another Georgia corner, Tavian Mayo, on Wednesday to provide a second promising youngster at that position.
Number currently on scholarship – 3, departing seniors – 2 (punter Billy Kinney, placekicker Skyler Simcox), verbal commitments – 1 (Kolton McGhee)
The skinny – McGhee will come in with the opportunity to be both a punter and placekicker at WVU. With placekicker Evan Staley returning after a solid sophomore season, McGhee will have to perform very well to beat out Staley in that area. But with Kinney graduating, the punting duties are wide open. McGhee’s first job for the Mountaineers could be as their punter, though he’ll compete with a couple promising walk-ons for that spot. The Mountaineers won’t need to add another new scholarship specialist beyond McGhee.
Final Thoughts – Beyond the 15 players who have already verballed to WVU, our guess is that the Mountaineers will sign four others on Wednesday – wide receiver Ali Jennings, safety Isheem Young, cornerback Tavian Mayo and one of the juco offensive linemen, either Blake Bedier or Paiton Fears. But that’s just our educated guess. We’ll find out Wednesday what really happens.