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

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Comments

  • Mountaineer maniac

    Any updates on funderburk

  • OKANYDAY

    Well you can say what you wish about Doc and Marshall. You have that right. But Dana Holgorsen couldn't carry Doc's game day briefcase or preparing a team to play ! Nuff said on this issue !

  • woody

    When a Sr. goes down and you have to put
    in a true Fr. were is the depth? This is a
    problem we have had for years in the
    big east. It won't work in the Big 12! We need
    upper classmen to step in. Lets let the coaches get the depth then if they can't bring these kids to were they need compete changes should be made.

  • Wvu fan

    All you ppl that's hating on the staff, Dana and luck well be the biggest fans of them once they bring in a winning season

  • westfair518

    Allan, excellent report! Keep up the good work.

  • Ray

    QB nuffsaid!

  • Dub V Fan

    Thomas-Williams kid would be big gain, but I really like the Funderburk kid....based on the video. Looks like he has good ball instincts, speed and can lay the smack down. Reminds me of another Karl Joseph.

  • WVU_93

    Marshall played a C-USA schedule and played a non-motivated Maryland team who's bowl reward was a bus ride from College Park to Annapolis, maybe 45 minutes and no better weather.

  • nashville cat

    i've been watching with interest all the coaching changes and assistants,,, I have found that no fbs team picked a high school coach to become as assist. college coach but wvu..I guess we know more than everyone else. We continue to trip over our own feet with hiring of coaches,,, dana, for instance, never a HC...Look what that got us.
    Is there a problem of learning from past failures.?
    We don't stand a chance with the problem solvers we now have in the tall buildings..
    Please God, when i wake up tomorrow, tell the the last 3 yrs of wvu athletics was just a nightmare, and not real

  • don

    Looks like we have some decent players verbally committed, if we can hang on to them. My concern is I see us being in the same place as last year, with no real starting quarterback. Another year of try this one a couple of quarters then OK, lets try that one a game or two. I think Rickety is a great evening guy but just flat out doesn't have the arm or the body to play big 12 football. Also, how did we get from a "simple"spread offense to one that apparently takes 2 or 3 years to master?

  • John wvu true

    With the way the 2015 class has started out so well does anyone think that maybe from there on all these coaches with such good recruiting history is starting to really show itself?

  • John wvu true

    I love how people think comparing a common foe tells something. Anyway Recruiting should be the topic and I feel like if wvu lands Thomas Williams that his teammate Thompson may follow and add a defensive lineman and maybe a secondary piece you got a pretty good class wouldn't some of you agree with that?

  • Mister Man

    WVU is getting recruits who have Alabama and other such schools on the list recruiting them.

  • FUAllWVUHaters

    I'm tired of everybody talking about the recruiting rankings. The people who make those rankings go by their gut, its not a science. No one actually knows who the best players are gonna be until they start playing at the big stage of college football. I'm a die hard WVU fan, have been since I knew what football was. The biggest thing for the eers next year is gonna be consistency and developing the young talent. I remember when it was a god send for WVU to get 1 or 2 4star recruits n we were always competitive

  • TB

    Nice article. Noticed the other day on ESPN that we did not or cannot anticipate landing any of the top 100 players out of the state of Texas. What happened to the 'they know the Big 12' and 'how to recruit for the Big 12' and 'know how to recruit Texas'?