MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Touting a recruiting class that spanned 15 states and fixated on junior college players to remedy deficiencies, Dana Holgorsen said National Signing Day brought a satisfying end to the most nerve-wrecking stint of the year.
“The hardest 48 hours as a coach is the Monday and Tuesday before Signing Day,” Holgorsen said Wednesday afternoon at the Milan Puskar Center, where West Virginia announced 25 signees. “You think you’ve got your numbers hit, but you don’t know if (recruits) are going to send (their letters of intent) back.”
“They call one last time and say it’s in, and it’s really good to put closure to it.”
Of course, the Mountaineers haven’t gotten complete closure on a class that Rivals ranked No. 24 nationally. WVU was still awaiting the signed LOIs from two three-star running backs — DeShawn Coleman of Hermitage, Pa., and Jacky Marcellus of Immokalee, Fla. Coleman committed to WVU last April, while Marcellus pledged in July.
Per NCAA rules, Holgorsen couldn’t publicly discuss their situations, saying only that “we’re still actively recruiting a couple of guys.”
As of 9 p.m., West Virginia also was awaiting the faxed signature of a third player, Florida defensive back Marquion Lane, who committed to WVU earlier in the day. Lane was among four pickups who announced for WVU on Signing Day, a strong finish to a class that will be counted upon pronto to help the program rebound from last season’s 7-6 finish.
Two juco teammates from Georgia Military College bolstered WVU’s late push — receiver Mario Alford and linebacker Brandon Golson decommitting from Arizona in favor of following assistant Tony Gibson on his move back to Morgantown.
“We know Tony Gibson’s a tremendous recruiter and he’s got tremendous ties, not only to the Pennsylvania area but also across the country,” Holgorsen said.
WVU signed nine junior college players overall, including Kevin White and Ronald Carswell, who are expected to fortify a receiving unit that lost three starters. Emphasizing the need to add pass-rushers on a defense that was among the worst in the FBS last season, WVU signed defensive end Dontrill Hyman and outside linebacker d’Vante Henry.
“Those are guys you don’t sign for the future — those are guys that you sign for right now,” Holgorsen said. “We needed to go out and find some guys who could make some immediate impact. Time will tell if we made the right decision or not.”
Neither Coleman nor Marcellus have publicly indicated their intentions of signing elsewhere. But reading between the lines on Holgorsen’s comments, WVU’s staff must have felt iffy about their odds of landing the running backs.
“This staff did a heck of a job identifying the guys who wanted to be here,” he said. “We put a list together last night of 18 people that we thought were going to sign, and all 18 of them signed. I can assure you the staff didn’t lose sight of the ones that didn’t (sign). People go to different schools for different reasons.”
Will WVU continue chasing the two longtime commitments?
“It depends on how things shake out,” Holgorsen said. “We still have a couple spots available.
“Whether we fill this with guys we’re currently recruiting or wait and see what shakes out after Signing Day … and we might want to bring a couple of transfer guys on board.”
The only other drama Wednesday involved the Mountaineers beating Vanderbilt for three-star safety Jeremy Tyler. The Lithonia, Ga., product actually initiated contact with WVU by submitting his game film last fall.
“He came to us, and when we put the film on we were amazed that a kid like this was still out there and wanted to be recruited,” said assistant Robert Gillespie, whose territory includes Georgia. “He played all over the field in high school, and he’s a guy who’s not afraid to play close to the line of scrimmage.”