MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coaches worked to shore up a top-20 class on Thursday as college football’s December signing period debuted.
Coach Dana Holgorsen said the program can sign 26 players in this recruiting cycle, a number that includes previously enrolled transfers Jack Allison, JoVani Haskins and T.J. Simmons, along with Western Kentucky transfer kicker Skyler Simcox, who signed Wednesday.
“We’ll add more players in February and probably more players going into the summer,” he said. “We’re still filling slots. It’s about a class, and it’s going to take multiple things to happen to find out what that final roster is come Aug. 1.”
Fairmont defensive end Dante Stills, the nation’s No. 150 overall prospect according to Rivals, was among the first players to sign. One of three four-star commitments in the Mountaineers class, he projects to make an immediate impact next season.
West Virginia also signed four-star safety Kwantel Raines, the Aliquippa, Pa., standout who held 30 offers including Penn State, LSU, Pitt and Virginia Tech.
Top running back target Leddie Brown remained an uncertainty until a Wednesday night ceremony. The four-star prospect, committed to WVU since April, sat at a table adorned with hats from Florida and North Carolina before re-affirming his pledge.
The class could wind up as West Virginia’s highest-ranked ever despite some misses.
Alex Williams, the 6-foot-7 three-star defensive end who had been committed to WVU since May, couldn’t resist a late offer from Ohio State and flipped.
Junior college cornerback Dom Harrison received heavy attention from Mountaineers coaches but stuck with his Arizona State commitment. Likewise, three-star defensive end Jalen Alexander of Chesapeake, Va., couldn’t be moved from his Maryland pledge and linebacker Braelen Oliver of Douglasville, Ga., remained with Minnesota.
Mike O’Laughlin, a 6-foot-5 three-star tight end from Oak Park, Ill., spurned pressure to join Ohio State’s packed class and signed with West Virginia.
Three-star dual-threat quarterback Trey Lowe signed with the Mountaineers despite four SEC programs making a late push for him.
“He had a lot of traffic coming in on him the past 72 hours,” said offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.
Joining Stills on the defensive front is James Gmiter, a 300-pounder who projects to compete for time at nose guard next season.
“He can help us,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “His back is as wide as two of these seats.”
With three defensive scholarship spots left, Gibson said WVU will “target two corners and one D-lineman.”
West Virginia’s commitments for 2018
(check indicates player has signed):
|Dante Stills (Fairmont, W.Va.)||6-4, 265||✓ DL||4 stars|
|Kwantel Raines (Aliquippa, Pa.)||6-3, 200||✓ DB||4 stars|
|Leddie Brown (Smyrna, Del.)||6-1, 190||✓ RB||4 stars|
|T.J. Banks (North Versailles, Pa.)||6-6, 240||✓ TE/DE||4 stars|
|Joshua Norwood (Senatobia, Miss)||5-11, 185||✓ DB||3 stars|
|Charlie Benton (El Dorado, Kan.)||6-3, 215||✓ LB||3 stars|
|Dillon Spalding (Lorton, Va.)||6-2, 210||✓ WR||3 stars|
|Randy Fields (Baltimore, Md.)||6-3, 190||✓ WR||3 stars|
|Trey Lowe (Bolivar, Tenn.)||6-3, 175||✓QB||3 stars|
|Briason Mays (Bolivar, Tenn.)||6-4, 290||✓ OL||3 stars|
|James Gmiter (Bethel Park, Pa.)||6-4, 300||✓ DT||3 stars|
|Sam James (Richmond, Hill, Ga.)||6-1, 160||✓ WR||3 stars|
|Mike O’Laughlin (Oak Park, Ill.)||6-5, 215||✓ TE||3 stars|
|Tyrese Allen (Paintsville, Ky.)||6-3, 290||✓ DT||3 stars|
|Josh Chandler (Canton, Ohio)||6-0, 220||✓ LB||2 stars|
|Blaine Scott (Portsmouth, Ohio)||6-4, 299||✓ OL||3 stars|
|Jayce Rogers (Valdosta, Ga.)||5-8, 160||CB||3 stars|
|Oyenmwen Uzebu (Alpharetta, Ga.)||6-6, 300||✓ OL||3 stars|
|Bryce Wheaton (Holly Springs, N.C.)||6-3, 200||✓ ATH||3 stars|
|Tavis Lee (Martinsburg, W.Va)||6-3, 227||DE||3 stars|
|Keith Washington (Wesson, Miss)||6-2, 180||✓ CB||2 stars|
|Angus Davies (Torquay, Australia)||6-1, 182||P||0 stars|