Bernard Thomas/Durham Herald-Sun

Running back Donte Thomas-Williams of Durham, N.C., is a four-star prospect who’s considering West Virginia and N.C. State.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Three weeks before college football’s national signing day, West Virginia owns 19 commitments. How many are reliable, and what players are Mountaineers coaches pursuing to fill the remaining spots?

To size up the end days of 2014 recruiting, MetroNews consulted two guys who go prospecting 365 days each year—Rivals writer Keenan Cummings of WVSports.com and Scout’s Kevin Kinder of BlueGoldNews.com. Both recruiting services generally agree on the strength of program’s current class: Rivals ranks the Mountaineers 43rd nationally, Scout places them 45th and each has WVU sixth in the Big 12 behind Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech.

With WVU yet to secure a running back commitment for the class of 2014, let’s discuss Donte Thomas-Williams out of Durham, N.C.

Cummings: He’s a bigger running back who can do it all. He can be that running back that can carry the ball 25 times a game, but can also make things happen in the pass game.
Kinder: He’s that bigger-body guy, the kind of guy that Dana Hologorsen had at Oklahoma State that could pound it up in there but also had some breakaway speed. He’s not a threat like Noel Devine, but he can use those seams for big gainers. He’s really built for the way West Virginia tries to run the ball.”

What other programs realistically could land Thomas-Williams?

Kinder: North Carolina State is the main competition at this point. It’s pretty much the Mountaineers and the Wolfpack at this point. So unless something changes, it’s going to come down to this two schools. He visited (Florida State) but the Seminoles have gotten some other running backs.

Safe to say Thomas-Williams is the most-wanted target out there for West Virginia?

Kinder:“I don’t think it’s any secret—he’s the guy they’ve got to get. He’s the target everybody’s looking for.”
Cummings: Out of the prospects remaining on the board, he is right at the top. He is a prospect the Mountaineers targeted early in the process and have paid a lot of attention to. Thomas-Williams will visit this weekend and has a teammate, receiver Trevion Thompson, who also is highly rated. Thompson will be visiting Jan. 24 and the Mountaineers would love to add both.

The chase for Trevion Thompson is interesting considering WVU has two receivers pledged for 2014 and two more committed for next year. He’s also weighing Clemson, Ohio State, North Carolina and N.C. State.

Kinder: He’s a special kind of guy. He’s 6-3 and about 190 pounds and he’s got a couple different things going for him. He goes up and high-points the ball pretty well, uses his size well. I think he has some abilities that he has developed quicker than a lot of other high school receivers that you see.”

West Virginia has two defensive linemen committed, but obviously covets more. With six or seven scholarship spots open, how many more might Holgorsen’s staff devote to the D-line?

Cummings: I think West Virginia would like to add two on the defensive line. Right now the one to definitely watch is Georgia Military College defensive end Kenderius Whitehead, given the fact that he has the Mountaineers on top of his recruitment and only has one visit scheduled to Morgantown (Jan. 24). Fellow juco defensive end Terry Ayeni is scheduled to visit Jan. 31, while WVU is making a play on current Louisville commitment Rashawn Shaw for a possible visit.

Regarding Washington, D.C., prospect Daejuan Funderburk, is he a must-get at safety for WVU? And might D’Cota Dixon of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., be a sufficient consolation prize?

Cummings: Both are very talented players, but West Virginia is in a very good position to land Funderburk, who will announce his college choice Friday before he sets off on an official visit to Morgantown. The Mountaineers need a free safety in this class and the rangy Funderburk fits that bill. If West Virginia does in fact land Funderburk, the question becomes whether the Mountaineers continue to pursue Dixon to see if they can get set up an official visit.

Time to talk flipping: Which of the 19 commitments is West Virginia in jeopardy of losing?

Cummings: The one player to really watch in the next couple weeks is offensive line commitment Josh Krok. The 6-foot-8 offensive tackle has been getting a strong push by Kentucky and he’s scheduled to visit there this weekend before heading back to West Virginia the weekend of Jan. 24. If Krok ends up making that visit to Kentucky, West Virginia might need to impress him again with the things he liked about Morgantown the first time.

Every recruiting cycle is crucial, but with WVU trying to bounce back from its first losing season since 2001, how do you gauge this class?

Kinder: I think West Virginia’s going to be in the upper half of the Big 12. I think West Virginia has really met its needs so far in this class. Obviously, they need to close things out—they need another defensive back, and another defensive lineman or two would be nice. But it’s really strong at the cornerback position and at safety. They’ve gotten some linebackers that have some speed—guys like Edward Muldrow who’s already in and Xavier Preston—and some bigger thumpers like Davonte James. Offensive line obviously is very deep, with very five very quality prospects. Trying to evaluate it honestly, I do really think it’s a step up from previous classes.

Finally, a look-ahead to 2015, where there’s some buzz building.

Kinder: This is as early as I can remember West Virginia getting guys this good. The one everyone will recall is a few years ago when West Virginia got a commitment from Jason Gwaltney for the following year right after signing day, and we were all kind of amazed that, hey, this was a year out. And now we’re looking ahead at five guys. Four of them are skill guys—Jovon Durante and Kahlil Lewis, wide receivers I think are going to be very highly rated—and Morgantown’s Stone Wolfley who I think has tons of potential. There’s also a talented running back, William Cameron.
Cummings: West Virginia has put together a very impressive start to the 2015 class, with five total commitments and two Rivals250 players—Jovon Durante and defensive back Kendrell McFadden. West Virginia is in on some talented prospects to add, and if things continue to go well with the current group of recruiters, the Mountaineers have the makings of a special group

bubble graphic

71

bubble graphic

Comments

  • Seen enough....Heard enough

    Guy's why do we always gravitate back to Doc and Marshall ? This is a Mountaineer board and I think we have enough items to talk about without involving MU. With that said Maryland 37-WV 0
    Marshall 31-Maryland 20
    What else needs to be said?

    • shawn

      It means that Marshall beat a Maryland team who was missing their best 2 players. Marshall is mediocre and always will be. When you win a BCS game or beat WVU then you can chime in.

      • Jon

        Amen! I'm tired of Marshall fans bashing WVU for no reason.

        • Marcus

          Really, I think that both sides have their fair share of Morons. Don't act like WVU fans are innocent.

          • nashville cat

            no really, marsha is famous for being morons.

      • Marcus

        From a WVU fan, why the fixation on Marshall? They did have great year. Shut up a talk bout something else. Why would you keep talking about Marshall if you didn't feel threaten by them? Talk about Alabama coming up, that's who we are playing. Congratulations Marshall on a great season, from a WV citizen who supports both State Div I schools.

    • jeff

      Doc , Marshall a flash in the pan. Bring John Pennington and Garin Justice up from Concord University, you'll get experence plus added tutoring from having team meetings and coaching from Don Nehlen, Rich Rod,Bill Stewart,Bobby Bowden,Rick Tricket, and Jimbo Fisher, and take a look at Concords web site and read their good coaching profile

      h in the pan

    • Steve

      Wvu 11 Marshall 0.
      That's all that needs to be said

  • Troll

    There's really nothing to complain about it's pretty simple, to keep up WVU moved to a conference that it wasn't really ready to compete in, sure we could beat teams in a bowl game once a year but that's different than competing week in and week out in the new conference. The staff is doing a good job of building the depth needed with good recruiting, still may be a couple years away just have to play it out and see. At this point it can be frustrating to us fans but it is what it is and our complaining, our wanting new coaches isn't going to change anything. Just man up, weather the storm and show support, it's going to get better.

    • Michael Walker

      Well stated, Troll. Intelligent, articulate and right!

    • Fan on the river

      Dear lord. Thank you Troll. You are right, nothing happens in a vacuum and the Big12 is a whole new beast. We did good to get a seat in a real conference- now we has fans need some patience while the roster and depth catch up to our BIGEasy expectations most of us still have.

    • Alum

      Well said, well said.

  • John wvu true

    I just seen where ford is out. That isn't a huge loss he didn't seem to have a very good grasp of the offence given his time to study it as a redshirt. I think you redshirt crest and let skylar play this year and possibly next if he produces and give crest time to learn and grow . I like trickett but hes gonna get hurt with his build.

    • Rich

      I think red shirting Crest is critical for our sucess going forward. Allowing him a year to learn the system and gain added strength will help his development. That being said I don't expect much next year, 4-5 wins. Trickett is injury prone and Howard is a 5-11 QB who will be learning the system himself, let's hope he is a quick study

      • Dub V Fan

        Agree about Trickett....too small and fragile to last thru 12-game schedule.

  • John wvu true

    I read the negative posts and get truly disgusted by such fairweather fans. We are recruiting well . People don't understand depth apparently. What is killing holgerson now is attrition. Why we aren't a great football team right now we are a team that is much deeper with every recruit. The problem is not our team we start the season with but what we lose throughout the year and don't have the depth to replace with quality players. We are on track with depth and if we can get a qb who can play we will be ok

    • jwg66

      I think you are correct. While I loved coach Stewart as a person, many of his prized recruits never qualified/enrolled. Can you say Kemeoatu or Finau??? Others quickly left the program. And the classes were at times small. It appears we are trying to balance out the classes with JC players. Time will tell if this works.... Also think a similar problem exists with men's BB.

  • nashville cat

    just checked scout.com , they have our recruiting class ranked 45 th and we are 6th best in the big 12,,,, for all you eer fans who believe in mediocrity, you should be celebrating.

  • nashville cat

    if you are going to be satisfied with mediocrity and sixth place in the big 12 in recruiting, so be it,,, just be prepared to fight kstate, iowa st, tcu for the bottom
    I wasn't a huge stewart fan , but he had more than one top 25 recruiting class, which shows me if we have the right people , we can compete,,
    now we're something like 43rd,,,that's sad, b ut if it's ok with you guys, go for it,,but i want to be competing for a title each yr, and a top 15 recruiting class,,, and i won't settle for less.

    • tw eagle

      I doubt Bill Stewart, RR, or Don Nehlen ever had a recruiting class that was even near what is counted as a top 25 class ... Bill Stewart had to "hock the family jewels" to get Smith to come to WVU when Taj Boyd flipped to Clemson ...

      and it's not who you get, it's what you do with the players that you do get on campus. I've posted this before, and i'll repeat it for you -- IF WVU built a 75 to 100 thousand seat enclosed stadium, and lured Nich Saban to be the coach, WVU would still be hard pressed to even get a top 25 class of recruits ... Morgantown ain't a big city with a gazillion things for young people to keep their heads spinning.

      UUMMM - you're a 17 year old who thinks he's just a step away from the Super Bowl and a spot in the hall of fame ... where are you gonna go to play college ball till you can opt for the pros? Warm weather & a big city to play in.

      • WVWHo

        Ahh, the review of the prior regimes and how they never had good classes. May we be reminded that they participated in the Big EAST, this is the BIG TWELVE. Sixth in the conference and 40th-50th nationally will more than likely lead to a program consistently finding itself on the outside looking in. The school enjoyed unprecedented BCS success by taking advantage of only need to win one meaningful game a year, but reality has set in. Playing 4-5 of these games each year show the road ahead and it won't be pretty now and especially won't be pretty when DH is given his papers.

      • GoldnBlue

        And Tuscaloosa is a big town! WVU is the state of West Virginia's NFL team

    • stevewvu

      no one cares what you think...take your negativity to the Marshall boards

    • Just wait

      Yeah those great ranked stew classes....so of those classes you realize 52% of those players never stepped on the field for WVU.

    • Michael Walker

      Nashville, I don't care how many stars a recruit has, generally speaking. When recruiters do their homework, they know how many stars, stares and offers a kid really deserves.

      First you recruit to your needs. There are many "three star" players being offered by top ten teams. The "school ranking" for recruiting is based SOLELY on stars.

      Owen Schmitt had two stars, Rich Braham had none. Bobby Bowden in his prime said, "Give me a bunch of "good" players and one "great" player and I'll contend for a championship."

    • Alum

      Signing day and the ranking of a given class is one thing. But what about incomplete classes and attrition? Go look at the numbers, they tell the story. This coaching staff was facing a monumental depth rebuilding process. Frankly, I think they have done of good job of restocking the empty cupboards.

  • The Wisetalker

    I am so happy right now...Oliver Luck and Dana Holgorsen have given us so much to look forward to and be excited about.

    Our football program under their direction has never been in better hands...

    Sure, we only won 4 games last year and probably will win that many again this year...but these things take time.

    Have you forgotten that both Holgorsen and Luck are in the apprentice stages of their careers? They are learning as they go so we have to be patient and support them 100 percent.

    In all likelihood it may take 5-10 years before we start seeing the fruit of their labors...

    Rome wasn't built in a day you know and Oliver Luck hired Dana Holgorsen to bring us a national championship because Bill Stewart (God rest his soul)...just was not getting the job done.

    Now with Luck & Holgorsen directing the ship there will be smooth sailing ahead...

    So rest easy my friends for all will be well!

    • stevewvu

      Oliver Luck an apprentice? the Guy made WVU at the minimum an extra $35 million a year by getting WVU out of the Big East, beer sales, and outsourcing third tier rights (like every other D1 university does. It's probably best that you don't post on subjects that you have no clue about. In Dana's first year as head coach, he won a Big East title and a big orange Bowl victory over Clemson. I guess you forgot about that.

      • The Wisetalker

        stevewvu,

        Thank you for the updated info...

        and all this time I thought they were in their apprentice stages...

        What was I thinking?

        • Michael Walker

          Your opinion is your opinion and you have a right to it. And to share it. Whatever happens on the field this year, the dressing room and the weight training facility compare with any in the nation. Thank you, Ollie. The $16 mil theater style meeting room will be started this year courtesy of the MAC and directly attributed to Holgorsen by the MAC. The shell building is in the way of a full size indoor practice facility. The grass practice field is going to be covered with premium artificial turf. Thank you Big 12, for the money to pay for that. You want to impress a recruit? That is how you do it.

        • Alum

          "What was I thinking?"

          Short answer, you weren't. Do you ever?

  • shawn

    Landing in the top half of the Big 12 in recruiting is pretty darn good. By doing that you're actually getting some quality guys. Holgs went out and got the right guys to recruit and its paying off.

    WVU is never going to be Top 20 in recruiting so we all need to understand that now. Alabama, Ohio State, FSU, LSU ect. will always be up there. Thats the way college football works.

    • Webb

      Mississippi had a top 5 recruiting class last year....

  • Tide5

    and what is left Nashville Cat's glass smells like licorice.....Good Luck with the Titans!!!!

  • Mountaineer fanatic

    I am expecting things to be quite different in 2014. We can come back just as Auburn and Missouri did in 2014.
    Now that we know Alabama can be beaten and we have an entire winter and summer to prepare, I am looking forward to starting our season off with a win against the Tide.
    LETS GOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS

    • The Wisetalker

      Whatever it is you are on can I have some of it?

  • martinsburg resident

    Let's Go Mountaineers... excited for the future of WVU Football & Basketball. All of you naysayers will see... we may be down but we are on the rise! The future is bright!

  • Born to be Mild

    Awesome post Nashville cat.
    So much knowledge.
    By the way, when you were out recruiting, how come you couldn't pull any of the real talent in? Boy, if this were super Mario brothers, we'd be in trouble! Why, everyone else having more stars than WVU? Geesh! I think because if your post, we should all burn our WVU gear, kick Holgerson back to Oklahoma, and scream like 2 year old girls.
    Really, thanks.

  • tw eagle

    Morgantown & WVU are never going to be at the top of the list of destinations for those kids who are being chased by the BIG schools . . . those who do show are usually self satisfied & unwilling to work to improve till their senior season . . . a 5* type like Gwaltney who walked away from the program when he was asked to actually work along with the rest of the team - he expected everything to be handed to him , "I'm the star" . . .

    that being said , this group of coaches has been very successful at signing recruits that have the talent to step right in & play . . . not seen in Morgantown since the early Nehlen days . . .as we saw in the mid-2000's , if a core of 6-8 players with talent are willing to be leaders on & off the field - the sky is the limit . . .

    how about sometime during spring & summer camp , invite Pat White to speak to the team about work and dedication to the TEAM . .. .

  • nashville cat

    i think right now , we're 6 th in recruitment for this fall in the big 12,,, certainly is better than last, but wow,,this isn't good ,, this just might cement us as bottom feeders.
    dana sure hasn't proven anything to new recruits that wvu is the place to come.
    something has to happen at wvu,,,Oliver Luck certainly has put us in a very bad spot both with football and BB, and the HC's contracts... In fact, this is the worst we have ever been in dollar commitments to these two sports and coaching staffs..
    Just throwing money at HC's is what wins games,,, we need quality coaches,,
    and signing high school coaches to coach on this level with no college experience, pretty much let's everyone know that Luck is in over his head.

    • Billy

      I agree, well thought out post.

    • mauldawg

      Who are the HS coaches with on college experience? Sounds to me you are in over your head!

      • mauldawg

        I forgot about new hire Cogdell,so for that you are correct. However if you don't get coaches from the HS ranks where do you get them. All coaches start in HS or lower and work up to college and pro jobs. I have yet to here about any coach that started out at the pro level and worked toward trier dream job of coaching at a HS. Coaches have to start somewhere.

        • WVUfan69

          High school is where Gus Malzahn was just a few years ago and he has done pretty well. Also, Art Briles was a successful HS Coach and I would take him any day.

          Cogdell played here and has sent us the likes of Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey. The question does remain can he coach at a college level, but I think his worth is solidly built on his ability to recruit and his relationships in the talent rich state of FL.

      • nashville cat

        ur such an idiot ... of course high school coaches don' t have college experience, but with all the coaches out there in the college ranks , why do we dip to high school to get our coaches
        i'm just saying,, we're competing against some very strong teams, with very good coaches, proven coaches, and we act like amateurs and dip into the high school ranks? my goodness man,, he's brought in two recruits for 2015 and we don't know if they will even stick, and we give out 200 grand to an unproven coach, and our def. is absolutely terrible and we need proven coaches to get us out of this rut ... high school, whoa

        • mauldawg

          You need to go back home to your MU boards.

    • Wow

      Nashville cat,

      I think i remember you from other posts. You are the one with the half empty glass.

      • hailey

        Sadly the glass has been half empty for quite sometime.

      • WVU 1964

        Nashville Cat , Is Big Tom , Big Larry , Madhatter , William , All the same person just guises himself has to use all those names because he likes attention .. And yes his glass is half empty and less now ....

    • Jonathan

      Are you an idiot?? The high school you are referring to is a former WVU player and has been the lifeline of our Florida recruiting base. Know your facts before you post. I guess you are a supporter of DOC being our Head Coach because Marshall is so great winning the C-USA divisional championship agains those great programs.

      • stevewvu

        I'll answer your question for you...he is an idiot and a troll. Its best not to feed the trolls. They will eventually die off if they don't get the attention now that they didn't get in childhood.

  • Ricardo

    Nice article Alan Taylor! Keep up the good work!!