MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Gigantic offensive tackle Josh Krok, a West Virginia commitment for more than seven months, flipped his pledge to Kentucky on Thursday, just days after concluding an official visit to Lexington.
The 6-foot-8, 308-pounder from Niles-McKinley (Ohio) High School, a three-star recruit Rivals ranked as the nation’s No. 39 tackle prospect, promptly canceled this weekend’s official visit to Morgantown, according to numerous reports.
Though the Mountaineers’ 2014 class still includes five other offensive line commitments, Krok was the highest-rated of that group and his reversal less than two weeks before signing day smacked of a lost investment for WVU.
“Truthfully it does, but it’s just part of the game in recruiting, especially this time of the year,” said Rivals senior writer Keenan Cummings of WVSports.com. “You never want to see commitments come off the list, given how difficult it is to fill those spots, but it’s just the nature of the game.”
Krok had made three unofficial visits to WVU, the first coming last June and leading to his commitment. At the time, McKinley High coach Brian Shaner predicted Krok was finished listening to other programs: “He is so West Virginia right now and so glad that this process has come to an end. This is as solid as it can get.”
Krok returned to WVU for fall’s Texas Tech and Texas games, but he waivered in recent weeks as Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops and assistant Vince Marrow made a concerted push to bring in Krok for a visit. The Wildcats—despite back-to-back 2-10 seasons and four straight losing campaigns overall—currently have the country’s 13th-rated class, and by the time Krok toured UK’s campus last weekend, recruiting analysts speculated he was on the verge of switching.
“In the end, the major factor was that Krok believed he could get on the field earlier with the Wildcats,” Cummings said.
“West Virginia would have liked to keep Krok in the fold, but if there was a spot that WVU could afford a possible loss, it was on the offensive line.”
One junior college signee, Sylvester Townes, has enrolled at WVU and another—Justin Scott of Pierce (Calif.) Community College— appears ready to sign with the Mountaineers on Feb. 5. Three high school offensive linemen also remain committed: Jamie Herr (Elkton, Md.), Walter Rauterkus (Avon, Ohio) and Amanii Brown (Morgantown).
“It’s never a positive to lose guys,” Cummings said, “but I think West Virginia should be good in this cycle given what’s left on the board.”
West Virginia’s 2014 class, which features 19 commitments so far, was ranked No. 44 nationally by Rivals late Thursday.
While the Mountaineers won’t necessarily reallocate Krok’s scholarship spot toward the current class, other targets are being evaluated. Those include Miramar (Fla.) High lineman Yodny Cajuste, a 6-foot-6, 270-pounder who played only one season of high school football but has the athleticism to make power-conference programs curious. Florida and Oklahoma State recently offered Cajuste, who’s high school coach, Damon Cogdell, was added to WVU’s staff this month.