MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s football coaches have been silent on the recent departure of spring-semester enrollee Davonte James, who was among the most highly recruited signees in the Mountaineers’ 2014 class. photo

Springfield (Ohio) linebacker prospect Davonte James left West Virginia after spring semester.

In fact, there was really no acknowledgement at all of James leaving after the conclusion of spring practice; only a change to the online roster.

It appears to be a scenario players encounter frequently—being promised a chance to play one position during recruiting only to encounter a different situation upon arriving on campus.

A 6-foot-3, 230-pound standout linebacker at Springfield High School in Ohio, James enrolled in January but was impacted by the staff shuffling that occurred one month later when defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Keith Patterson left for Arizona State. Tony Gibson subsequently was promoted to coordinator, and newly hired assistant Damon Cogdell was assigned to linebackers.

Somewhat of a tweener, James reportedly was projected as a Buck linebacker during recruiting but was moved to defensive end during spring practice.

“I think Davonte had his heart set on playing linebacker, not defensive end,” a hometown source close to the player told MetroNews.

“When the coach who recruited him—who was going to be his position coach—left, they changed the defense from a 40 front back to a 3-3-5. Davonte felt that wasn’t in his best interests. It was totally a football decision.”

James was ranked a four-star linebacker by ESPN, which listed him the No. 9 overall prospect in Ohio and the nation’s 279th recruit overall. However, opinions on James varied drastically: He received a three-star rating from Rivals, whose analysts ranked him as the 74th-best player in Ohio.

James committed to West Virginia last August over Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Purdue and Illinois.

He reportedly is leaning toward transferring to Cincinnati.

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  • Tom

    Doesn't matter. 3-9. Hope to heck I'm wrong.

    • JJ

      you won't be wrong.
      3-9 is what we'll be.
      We won't even win 4 games.

      Holgerson will be dismissed and a new era of rebuilding will begin.

      • J the C

        You're probably correct in that IF we go 3-9, Holgs will be fired, and, in all likelihood, rebuilding will begin anew, unless the next head coach runs a similar scheme. I disagree on your predictions. Neither you, nor Tom, nor Holgs , nor I know what our record will be in December. There are so many possible scenarios, that I wouldn't bet a nickel on the outcome. There is a lot of potential talent everywhere except with the existing QB corp. Millard and Tricket were not Big Twelve material, except on a losing team, and I would be shocked if there has been any change between last season and 2014.

    • Scott

      I think you're wrong, easily could have 6-6 or 7-5 last year! I think they'll get to AT LEAST 6-6 this year!

    • WVU1

      I hope you are wrong, too

  • mad hatter

    it appears there is no end in the turmoil at wvu sports.
    it's a shame, coaches lying to recruits.
    i just think Luck is passing on by traits to huggins and holgorsen and , in turn these two coaches have pretty much destroyed wvu money sports.
    It's a shame, i am embarrassed at what is going on, with holgie, let's hope he's at least staying sober.

    • Grae

      Yeah the money programs are just ruined because of two bad years and a true freshman transferring because of a position change. Are you kidding me? WVU is fine

    • rock solid

      Hey Hatter: Think how embarrassed we are at having someone as clueless as you posting anything. Things change with time, and what was true yesterday, may not be true today. NO one lied to any recruit you stupid slug.

    • Scott

      Coaches lie to players all the time, staffs change! It is the kids today who don't know how to adapt and overcome! It is not taught to them anymore!!

      • Metz

        Most of these kids know how to adapt & overcome. If not they would not have made it to the D1 level as a player in the 1st place. And Shadow is right, if coaches can leave without penalty & then the athlete should be able to do so to. Like it or not we all know D1 football is no longer just a college sport, it is big business/$$$.

    • J the C

      Hatter, are you blind. This sort of thing is happening all over the country. As for "lying", read the story. A change in coaching often causes a shift in players and positions. AS for Holgs, when you can show that his use of alcohol adversely affects his coaching, show us. Otherwise, keep your Victorian morality to yourself.

      • Shadow

        Despite what the NCAA says, a good many of the kids come to a school based upon their desire to play for the coach and not the school. When the coach leaves, the athletic should have the capability to break his contract with the school without penalty and follow the coach if he/she desire. The NCAA rule that the athletic must stay with the school despite what the coach does should be repealed.

    • Mike

      mad hatter, You must be a troll. You cant be a WVU fan. Your comments are way out of line. My guess is your about 12 years old.

      • mad hatter

        i am a grad of wvu, and i want better , much better than we are getting.
        i guess you to be about 5 yrs. old

        • Aaron

          You are nothing if not persistent Larry, I'll give you credit for that. Just stay away from motivational speaking.

        • diamonddonn

          we all want better results; but wont happen if we dont have continuity. I think the boosters need to be more realistic and let the coaches do thier jobs. Our football and mens bb play extremely tough schedules and are usually competitive. We lost 5 football games that we could have won with a bounce here or there. We were also very young and inexperienced; not excuses just facts. Holgs needs 2 more years before we should start the fire him chants. Hugs is 3rd winningest active coach. Do you really want to run him off? Do you remember in 70s running an offensive guru in cfb off? He went to fsu and started a fb program; his name bobby bowden. Be careful what you wish for; you might get it

          • Mr.P


        • wv_hawk

          I’m also a grad of WVU - and I, as well, want what is better for WVU.

          If you truly want better for WVU, please stop accusing our coaches of "lying to recruits" unless you were there during the conversation and can truthfully say that the coaches lied to the recruit.

          It's not a "lie" if the coaches change and the new coaching philosophy changes. Especially if the coaching emphasis changes to the point that it's no longer possible to give a kid what they were told they "MAY" get under the former coaches and the former coaching philosophy.

          You obviously have no idea what is said to these kids. On RARE occasions, a recruit MAY be promised a certain position - but it's rare. MOST are told, essentially, "Hey - we're looking at you for ‘such-n-such’ a position." In Mr. James’ case, I’d bet you he was told, “Hey we’re looking at you to play linebacker.” When the coaches and coaching direction changed, it was possibly seen that Mr. James may not see action as a linebacker after all, but would see the field as a lineman. Mr. James then had a decision to make. He made his decision and I wish him the best.

          I will now apologize to you. I should never have said you were stupid. I’m sorry. I should have used the word “ignorant” in the context of your comments which reveal that you simply do not know what you’re talking about.

          And if I’m only “five” years old, at least I show more maturity and knowledge than you do for – what? 40 years? 50 years? So, “nanny-nanny-boo-boo” to you.

      • wv_hawk

        Hey!!! Leave Hatter alone... with him/her around it helps us keep tabs on what "stupid" AND "non-WV" fans are saying.

        He and others of his/her ilk do not comprehend the when positions coaches change it may just mean actual changes in player positions.

        Mr. James is making a decision that he feels is best for him (and maybe his family). What is wrong with that? WVU (*Luck & Holgerson) made decisions that they felt were best for WVU. EVERYbody makes decisions that they feel are best for themselves and their families.

  • Get over it

    It continues to amuse me that individuals say that programs have massive issues when kids no longer want to be there. If you haven't noticed it is a what can you do for me lately world. The commitment is lacking in upbringing on these kids. Take for example this year's NFL Draft. Record numbers of kids declaring early as projected 3rd rounders then falling to the 6th and 7th rounds or not being drafted at all. All I have to say is that the teaching and training of kids is not there as much as it was 10 years ago. This post is not vindictive against this kid he may be a great kid that just lost his position coach..... it happens... wish him well .....but intended more for the comments from others that say all these moves are the coaches fault. Could be but yet again that is not up to me. I am not throwing the first stone. I know I live in a glass house.

    • diamonddonn

      well said

    • Scott

      I totally agree!

  • Charles

    Holy cow!!! You people are dramatic. Every football program in the nation loses a couple kids this time of year. Yes it sucks. But really???? 2 kids out of 25 signed. Where was all the crying when stew signed 19 and lost 3 before they even stepped on campus. Then 2 more transferred as soon as the season was over. This stuff was worse 5 years ago Wasn't all this crying and belly aching. We will still have 80+ scholarship players. Which is a far better than the 60 under the previous regime. All is well. Moving on. Some kids just want to leave. Period. No drama. That is why you sign 25 every year. Here's some numbers. You can sign 25 every year. But only have 85 on scholarship. So what does that mean?? There will always be attrition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Rick S.

      There was not nearly as much crying and belly aching back then because the football team was winning nine or ten games every year.

      Fans tend to be more positive when their team finishes in first place and/or goes to nice bowl games. Fans tend to be more negative when their team has a losing record.

    • richard

      Difference is that Stew would never have knowingly promised him a position and then allowed him to be switched to another. It's called honesty and integrity - something Stew had and Holgorsen knows nothing about.

      • Foozball

        Stew would have never recruited him since he never filled classes....

      • Aaron

        Is that the same honesty and integrity that sought aid from a reporter to to "dig up this dirt; you need to get it out on this guy" so he wouldn't have to resign his job?

      • Charles

        You sir just lied. Yes stew told kids they will get a chance at their position of choice. Then once on campus moved the kid. Tavon Austin anyone!!! And many others. Brandon hogan. Tandy. So you have no idea what your talking about. It happens on every staff in the nation. Kids show up and would help the team better somewhere else.

      • Dave

        Didn't Tavon Austin switch positions? He was a tailback in high school when he signed on for the Mountaineers. The position changed worked out for him.

      • Smacktalkineer

        Uh, the article pretty clearly states that the coach who made the promise is no longer here and we're running a different scheme. Not exactly the same as just lying to recruits. Reading comprehension is important.

        Our defense was 103rd and 116th out of 120 the last few years (welcome to the B12), so I'm pretty happy with the change. Tom Bradley was a godsend. Gibby is a great recruiter and hopefully we can get back to respectability on defense. Bradley was always a top 25 defense at State Penn.

        • WVU1

          "Welcome to the Big 12". Way to try to sell yourself on pathetic recruiting and coaching.

          • diamonddonn

            Very few 5 star recruits cosider us so dont blame recruiting. Big 12 football is far better than big east fb so there are going be rough stretches hopefully we are over this 1 and headed in right direction. Holgs and Huggs have not had any recruiting scandals either; rod and stew did

        • Mitch

          @ Smacktalkineer,

          Good point, except that Bradley was actually even better than that. Pretty much Top 15 most of the time.

      • Mitch

        @ richard,
        Something you obviously know nothing about either. James was promised the LB position by Keith Patterson, who is no longer here.
        He doesn't fit what the new DC is doing. That's not dishonest, it's just reality.

        • J the C


      • Mo'town dude


  • ViennaGuy

    If he didn't want to play defensive end, then the decision to leave was the right one for both him and for the WVU football program. You don't want players who are not totally committed to their positions.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    We need true Mountaineers. I say weed them out now. I want true Mountaineers with high team spirits when we take down Alabama.

  • Mike

    Rather than lose him - obviously a top talent - Holgorsen should have kept their commitment and let him play LB. How bad could he have been at that position? Dumb move, Mountaineers.

    • Mitch

      @ Mike,
      Dumb move how? He was recruited for a different scheme. His skill set probably no longer fits what we are doing. Nobody's fault.
      How is that a "dumb move"?

      • Ut Oh

        It was a spring time switch. "Son let us see if you are better equipped to play end and if it does not work out you will be switched back" it happens all the time, guess the gent was just not patient enough.

  • Alex

    Wow this is sickening..... Feels like I got hit in the gut.... I had great hopes on this young man.... Wish this would stop.... Basketball now football....I know, no one has a solution for this happening...Can't get anything from NCAA....So the ball keeps on Rolling.....

    • Ut Oh

      Yea first William, then Mad Hatter then Alex, my goodness why are you guy's still in your armchair and not on the sidelines. Then we could all talk about the next greatest coach to Bear, or Saben or the Ol ball coach. Hurry please!

      • Alex

        Sorry Ut Oh, you took my post wrong... Iam hurt of the fact that these young men can and are leavening at will, and nothing or anything anyone has the answer for....I am a true WVU fan, regardless and support the coaches... Iam not calling to change coaches,,,,, just like to fix what the problem is with all these guys leaving....I am really hurting inside.... I have supported my school for 67 years + ....and this hurts...

  • The Answer

    This kind of thing happens more often than most people realize.
    Wishing the kid the best of luck.

  • tim1

    Come on Man......isn't it more important to just get on the field?

    • Ut Oh

      Get the grades, become a well rounded man and let football take care of itself!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ricardo

    I could understand this decision completely. If the kid's heart is set on playing his position, and he isn't going to be given the opportunity to even compete for it, he made the decision most others would. I wish him luck.

  • Mister Man

    Aight den.

  • FNP

    It happens

  • Holgie

    And so it continues. Maybe the football coaches are trying to match the basketball program for players bailing out.

  • james

    Well that is the second recruit to leave the program already, love my mountaineers, but I can already see what type of year we are going to have

    • Mitch

      @ james,

      Because a true freshman that was not going to play this year leaves, this effects what kind of year we're going to have THIS YEAR? Really?
      Exaggerate much?

    • Grant

      I don't like losing him either, but it wouldn't have been a huge impact on the wins and losses this season. True freshman rarely have that immediate of an impact.

      That said, given our schedule and QB situation, WVU will be fortunate to get to 6-6.