MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Though most of the 2013 signing class is still a month away from reporting to campus, WVU is deep into building its 2014 class.
For an update, MetroNews spoke with WVSports.com’s Keenan Cummings of the Rivals network and BlueGoldNews.com’s Kevin Kinder, who covers the Mountaineers for Scout. (Follow them on Twitter at @rivalskeenan and @BlueGoldNews, respectively.)
1. What area, if any, stands out as a “need” for the 2014 class?
CUMMINGS: I think no question West Virginia will target the defensive line and edge rusher positions as they continue to recruit to fill the needs of the new defense, along with several wide receivers/running backs. There will be other positions in the mix as well, but at this point the Mountaineers need to find both playmakers and pass rushers and continue to build depth at both spots.
KINDER: With the attrition at wide receiver from graduation and departures, that spot will certainly need attention in the upcoming class. West Virginia has to continuously restock at that position in order to make its offense effective, and it enters this year without a proven passcatcher on the team. Even with the natural development of players, there will still be a shortage going in to next season. … Both lines will also need some rebuilding, with several seniors scheduled to depart. WVU does have some promising underclassmen on both sides of the ball, but will need to add at least 2-3 players on both lines in this class.
2. What are your impressions of Ricky Rogers, the first 2014 commitment? With Pitt offering and teams like Michigan taking a look, how solid is his verbal pledge to West Virginia?
KINDER: Despite his other offers, Ricky Rogers is very solid to WVU. He has made multiple trips to campus, and has said more than once that West Virginia is his final choice. “West Virginia was just perfect for me, so there was no need for me to wait and chase other offers,” he told Scout.com recently. He’s a physical wideout that knows how to use his size and strength (6-2, 195) to shield defenders and create space to catch the ball. He has continually impressed in 7-on7 competitions, and he is an excellent start to the class. WVU needs bigger receivers to complement the slots that dominated the offense over the past couple of years, and he fits the bill.
CUMMINGS: I saw Rogers in camp last year and think he is a very talented wide receiver with a lot of potential. He already has the size for the college game and has the ability to go up and get the football in traffic. I don’t think there is any doubt about his commitment status at this point, as Rogers as even confirmed that recently. With Rogers being set for early enrollment I’d be surprised if you happened to see any changes in his commitment status, especially given the fact he has visited campus so many times already and is familiar with the staff and atmosphere.
3. Is signing a quarterback a necessity next year considering Paul Millard (junior), Ford Childress (redshirt freshman) and Chavas Rawlins (freshman) are all underclassmen?
KINDER: Yes. WVU would like to have one quarterback in each class, and was looking at taking a transfer a year ago to fill out a four-man rotation. Given that not every quarterback is going to pan out, having a year or two-year gap between QBs could leave a dangerous hole in the plan of succession. Millard will depart after the 2014 season, and that would leave WVU with only two non-freshmen quarterbacks if it didn’t take one this year. The Mountaineers already have several offers out to quarterbacks in this class, and it would be a total shock if they did not take one.
CUMMINGS: I do think signing a quarterback will be a necessity for West Virginia, just because you never know what can happen given the outcome of the battles at the position. You’d ideally like to have at least four arms in the program and the Mountaineers are currently in on a number of talented prospects for that spot. Some of the names thus far are Baltimore Dunbar’s William Crest, who has visited multiple times and plans to be back on campus for the spring game, Apopka (Fla.) standout Zack Darlington, who visited this past weekend and Hollywood (Fla.) University School’s Sean White, who hopes to visit this summer. Others also remain on the board, but it’s a matter of getting them on campus.
4. Is it too early to garner any feedback on the recruiting prowess of WVU’s new assistants?
CUMMINGS: Although it’s hard to really quantify the impact the assistants have made in terms of players in the program at this point, there is no doubt that they have made quite an impression on several top prospects in key and new areas for the Mountaineers. Already Tony Gibson has lived up to his name at this point and been able to bring in high-level talent from Western Pennsylvania to campus during the winter and spring, while Lonnie Galloway has further opened up possiblities for the Mountaineers in states such as North Carolina and Georgia. JaJuan Seider has been a name I’ve already heard quite a bit from prospects in South Florida and his youthful energetic approach should only continue to pay dividends for the Mountaineers in the talent-rich Sunshine State. I think you will begin to see more commitments in the upcoming weeks and months ahead, but typically a lot of that ground work is laid early and it’s something that the new staff members are doing well.
KINDER: Lonnie Galloway and Tony Gibson have proven their chops at both WVU and other schools during their careers, so there’s not much question they can recruit. Brian Mitchell did well at East Carolina, but there’s always the question of how newcomers can recruit at their new venues. Can he sell the Mountaineers program? There’s nothing to indicate he can’t, but that’s always a factor to watch. Ron Crook is also an interesting case to monitor. Recruiting players at Stanford and Harvard is a different animal entirely than recruiting to most other Division I schools. Crook has the knowledge of West Virginia at his back, but he will have to show that he can compete with 50 other schools, not just a small handful, to land players.
5. Who are some of the top targets WVU is eyeing?
KINDER: At quarterback, a few names to watch are Kyle Allen (Desert Mountain HS/Scottsdale, Ariz.), the No. 1-rated prospect at his position by Scout.com., Zach Darlington (No. 26, Apopka HS/Apopka, Fla.) and William Crest (No. 30, Dunbar HS/Baltimore, Md.). … WVU is also chasing a number of highly regarded wide receivers, including Trevion Thompson (Hillside HS/Durham, N.C.), and Dominique Booth (Pike HS/Indianapolis, Ind.) West Virginia is also offering a number of receivers across the southern swath of the nation from Florida to California, but it will have to beat out college football’s elite to grab many of those players.