MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The new early December signing period allowed three West Virginia natives to sign their letter-of-intent with Marshall’s football program on Wednesday.
Inking to join the Herd were University wide receiver Amir Richardson (6-foot-2, 205 lbs.), Wheeling Park offensive lineman Tristen Bittner (6-4, 290) and George Washington quarterback Grant Wells (6-1, 190).
“It’s great just to get a head start on everything,” Wells said. “I’m enrolling there in January so that’s going to be a huge help to get there early and get the first spring under my belt when things are a little bit slower. I think it’ll be a big advantage stepping in come January.”
Wells, like Bittner, had been committed long-term to Marshall, while Richardson’s recruitment process was entirely different.
Richardson was committed to West Virginia until less than two weeks ago when he found out the Mountaineers had pulled the scholarship offer. He then made the trip to Huntington for an on-campus visit, before giving the Herd a verbal commitment.
“Marshall came to my house Sunday for a home visit and I talked to them and everything,” Richardson said. “I was like this is where I want to be, why wait around and look at other schools when there are so many great opportunities with Marshall from the degree to playing the position I want to and the facilities and everything else.”
Had Richardson gone to WVU, he was projected to play defense and likely would have been slotted as an outside linebacker.
At Marshall, he will stay as a wide receiver and play under wide receivers coach Dallas Baker, a former first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection as a wideout at Florida.
“The genuine support I got from them really opened my eyes after all this went down and the loyalty and trust was huge for me,” Richardson said. “I felt like I could trust them right away and coach Baker will be my wide receiver coach there. He seems like such a great person.
“It was tough not picking Marshall the first time, because I want to play for a guy like him who was set on me playing receiver and felt like I could do great things for him playing receiver.”
Bittner, known for opening wide running lanes at Wheeling Park, already has the stature of a college lineman, which could help ease his transition to college football.
“That makes a big impact,” Bittner said. “It takes a load off of me, because there are some kids that go in at 260 pounds and they have put on weight.
“Being my size going into college gives me a little bit of an advantage that I don’t have to have a big leap.”
Considering the three in-state products to sign early with Marshall play quarterback, wide receiver and on the offensive line, there’s a chance they’ll work together to make an impact for the Herd down the road.
Wells is excited about the opportunity to connect with Richardson in the future.
“I’ve known Amir the past couple of years and I was in Huntington on that Friday when he decommitted,” Wells said. “I immediately got on the phone and hit him up.”
Bittner is looking forward to blocking for his new teammates.
“Amir is a really good wideout and playing University, our defense had to do double team him a lot,” Bittner said. “He’s just an all-around athlete and can jump over people and get the ball easily.
“Grant, I didn’t play against him much, but two years ago, we played them in the playoffs and he has a really good arm.”
Wells and Bittner were both Class AAA first-team all-state selections this season, while Richardson earned second-team honors as a defensive back.