ARLINGTON, Texas – At the current rate, West Virginia might become the first college football program with players from the State of Georgia and the Republic of Georgia.
Two of WVU’s recent commitments hail from overseas. Class of 2020 defensive back Jairo Faverus plays his high school football in England, but originally hails from the Netherlands. Class of 2021 tight end Viktor Wikstrom is from Sweden.
So how is Neal Brown getting his foreign intelligence on these guys?
It all goes back to an old college connection. Even though they played at UMass nearly a decade apart, Brown knows former Minutemen defensive tackle Brandon Collier, who runs a scouting service based in Germany.
Collier’s best players travel to the United States each summer, going on a bus tour of football camps held at multiple colleges with other high school prospects.
“He’s done a great job,” Brown said. “We’re always looking for what’s next. We want to be different. We had a chance to see several European players, and not just European players, but international players compete at camps over the summer.
“I was impressed not only with their athletic ability, but their work ethic and overall football knowledge. That’s something we’re going to continue to explore. Not only Europe, but Canada as well.”
The Mountaineers have already signed one Canadian player. Safety Alonzo Addae will sit out this season after transferring from FCS New Hampshire.
“We’re going to be creative in how we build our roster,” Brown said. “We’re doing everything we can to put together a team that hopefully one day can end up [at AT&T Stadium for the Big 12 championship game].”
Numbers game will clear up soon
Thanks to some transfers and a wait on potential freshman enrollees, there is some uncertainty about which players constitute the 25 scholarship members of the 2019 recruiting class. Brown said that will be cleared up soon enough.
“I can’t elaborate a ton until we get into that first week of fall camp,” Brown said. “We have to get creative. We have some guys in the signing class that may not be in it when we start fall camp due to some issues out of our control. And we have some additions that we can’t talk about until we get into the first week of fall camp.”
Of the three incoming freshmen that West Virginia is waiting on – safety Osita Smith, safety Rashean Lynn and offensive lineman Brandon Yates – Brown said that there is still a chance two of those players still enroll for the fall semester.
However, he can’t get specific until they do enroll.
“One of them is not going to be here,” Brown said. “Two of them are TBD.”
Brown also didn’t get specific when talking about the transfers who will be seeking NCAA waivers to play immediately this season, but he spell things out obviously enough that Inspector Clouseau would be able to crack the case.
WVU has already applied to get a waiver for wide receiver Sean Ryan, who transferred from Temple after the Owls went through two coaching changes in just one month this offseason.
“One of them is at a position where he could really help us on the field this year because we kind of lack experience,” Brown noted.
The Mountaineers will also apply to get a waiver for quarterback Jarret Doege, who left Bowling Green after a coaching change.
“One of them should be no question,” Brown said. “The other kid we think has a good argument.”
No hard feelings
Brown isn’t holding a grudge against the Milwaukee Brewers, who nabbed one of the members of his signing class in the MLB Draft. Terence Doston, who signed with West Virginia as a wide receiver, instead signed with Milwaukee after being drafted in the 22nd round.
“I’m happy for Terence,” Brown said. “He had a decision he had to make. I’d love for [my son] Dax to be in that same situation where he’s going to decide whether to take a full scholarship or go play professional baseball. Terence made the decision to play professional baseball and I don’t begrudge him a bit. I hope it works out for him.”
Doston is currently playing for the Brewers’ rookie team in the Arizona League.
Brown not picking fight with Riley
Brown isn’t about to get into a war of words with Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, who doesn’t think players who transfer within the Big 12 should be eligible to play immediately – even graduate transfers, who are allowed to do so by NCAA rule but can be blocked within the Big 12.
Riley allowed quarterback Austin Kendall to play for West Virginia after initially blocking him, but didn’t sound very happy to do so.
“I don’t think it’s good for the league,” Riley said on Monday.
“I’m not in the position right now where we are setting legislation,” Brown said. “The transfer portal is here. The rules are clear. And we’re going to play by the rules. Most schools will benefit, and at the same time you’re going to have subtractions from the transfer portal.
“I don’t really have a take on it. I just want to know what the rules are, and we’ll play by them.”