In what promises to be a crucial weekend for West Virginia football recruiting, four-star safety/receiver Tyler Boyd of Clairton, Pa., is expected to visit Morgantown. Also anticipated on campus are three junior college defensive prospects who currently hold scholarship offers from WVU: defensive end Marcus Hardison of Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, and cornerback Nate Willis and outside linebacker D’Vante Henry, both of Arizona Western Community College.
In addition, five previously committed prospects are scheduled to visit as the Mountaineers coaching staff attempts to keep them in the fold.
MetroNews talked to two writers who most closely following WVU recruiting. From the Rivals network, we’re joined by WVSports.com senior writer Keenan Cummings, and from Scout, we’re happy to feature Kevin Kinder, publisher of BlueGoldNews.com and staff writer for the Blue & Gold News:
Which of this weekend’s visiting recruits are among the most talented or sought-after?
Kinder: There’s a lot of talent on this list, but I would have to go with Tyler Boyd. He is a great prospect and probably has the ability to play either receiver or safety. He shows great speed and change of direction, flips his hips well in coverage and is an aggressive tackler.
Cummings: A number of players that are high on the West Virginia’s board will be making their way to Morgantown. Tyler Boyd is expected to be in town and is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the class of 2013. Boyd is a fan of the West Virginia offense and has long been high on the Mountaineers, but it looks to be a battle between West Virginia and Pittsburgh with the Panthers seizing some momentum since his November official visit. West Virginia will host running back Wendell Smallwood and receiver Daikiel Shorts, two current commitments who are teammates at Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy. A cornerback to watch will be Nate Willis. Originally from Florida, Willis is one of the premier cover corners at the junior college level and currently has the Mountaineers high on his list. Other prospects that could fill immediate needs are Marcus Hardison and D’Vante Henry.
Which recruits does WVU realistically have a chance to land?
Kinder: Boyd and Willis are probably the two at the top. Hardison has a bunch of offers, so just by sheer numbers that’s tougher, but WVU looks to be in his final four. Arizona State will be tough to beat, and K-State is always good with jucos.
What’s your perspective on quarterback commitment Chavis Rawlins? How soon can help he WVU and at what position?
Cummings: Rawlins is a bit raw throwing the football but has a strong arm and good foot work. He will need some time to adjust to the college game and refine his skills as a pocket passer, but he will have the advantage of enrolling early in January to get a spring under his belt. Rawlins was recruited as a quarterback and that’s where you’ll see him, though he is athletic enough to play a number of positions. His athleticism adds an interesting dynamic to the offense. Barring an impressive spring I’m not sure he will be able to avoid a redshirt for this fall.
Kinder: Rawlins is a great athlete. He wasn’t asked to pass the ball a lot in high school, so that’s still something of a question, but he will get the chance to play at QB first at West Virginia. If that’s where he stays, obviously we’re talking about a longer development process, although he will be on campus in January. He could also be a great defensive back, but that switch would be up to him in the short term. Clearly there are chances to play more quickly if he moves to defense.
How would you characterize the status of WVU’s 2013 class to date?
Kinder: It’s a very good base. WVU will need to finish out with more linemen on both sides, a couple of corners, and more wide receivers. I think it’s a class that better fits Holgorsen’s system, and there are some good pieces for the new defense. But West Virginia alsoneeds more edge rushers, linemen and linebackers who can run.
Cummings: This is a very strong class at this point, but has a chance to be very special if the Mountaineers can close with some of the prospects left on the board. West Virginia has brought in a number of players who will be expected to contribute early in their careers and are physically ready to do just that. With the Mountaineers addressing needs in this cycle, the influx of junior college prospects should give this class more immediate impact than the typical prep-heavy group. Some key additions could push the coaching staff’s efforts over the top.