Back in October, I broke down WVU's minimum recruiting needs for the 2013 class. At that point, I figured we would take 2 quarterbacks, 5-6 skill players, 4-5 offensive linemen, 3-4 defensive linemen, 4 linebackers, 4-5 defensive backs, and 1 kicker/punter for a full class of 25.
We also had 16 verbals: QB Chavas Rawlins; RBs Deshawn Coleman, Zaire Williams, Jacky Marcellus and Wendell Smallwood; WR Daikiel Shorts; OLs Tyler Edwards, Tyler Tezeno and Marcell Lazard; DL De'Asian Richardson; LBs Al-Rasheed Benton, Isaac McDonald, Elijah Wellman, Darrien Howard and Hodari Christian; and DB Daryl Worley.
For better or worse, a lot has changed since then. Promising receivers Ivan McCartney and Travares Copeland both left the team. Cornerbacks coach (and strong recruiter) Daron Roberts was let go. There is some speculation on whether the loss of Roberts could lead to some recruits changing their mind, but so far everyone is standing firm with their commitment. Let's hope that remains to be the case.
Offensive lineman Tyler Edwards switched his commitment to Baylor, and the Mountaineers picked up commitments from LB Marvin Gross, JUCO RB Dreamius Smith, JUCO S Terrell Pinson, DB Malik Graves, and JUCO WRs Ronald Carswell and Kevin White.
Something else I didn't necessarily account for in my last breakdown was the ability of the staff to count between 4 and 5 commitments back to the class of 2012, which would fill the slots of Deontay McManus, Sam Lebbie, Torrey Clayton and Roshard Burney, who never enrolled at WVU and therefore did not count toward the limit of 25 scholarships per year. January enrollees can count either back toward the 2012 class or forward to the 2013 class, and given the Mountaineers' need for depth at key spots, expect 8 or 9 players to enroll in January, with 4 or 5 of those counting back to last year's class.
Assessing the class today, here is what I see (with current commits in italics and parentheses):
Quarterback: (Chavas Rawlins) The more I think about it, we are likely done at quarterback with Rawlins as a dual threat type guy (think Trevone Boykin from TCU). We have 3 quarterbacks this year in 3 different classes, so there is no need to add another just for the sake of depth. As I noted in the comments, WVU is getting a visit from top JUCO dual-threat QB Tanner McEvoy. McEvoy is a guy you simply make room for if he wants to come.
Skill (RB/WR/TE): (RBs Deshawn Coleman, Zaire Williams, Jacky Marcellus, Wendell Smallwood, Dreamius Smith; WRs Daikiel Shorts, Ronald Carswell, Kevin White) I'm betting on a couple running backs switching positions to slot receiver or even defense, and you can guarantee a few more wide receivers in this class. Pennsylvania native Tyler Boyd seems to be the name on everybody's radar at the moment, but that won't be the only one you'll hear between now and signing day. In fact, given WVU's gaping talent void at wideout, I'm expecting at least 2 receivers to enroll early, probably JUCOs White and Carswell. Shelton Gibson and Demarcus Ayers are two high school receivers the Mountaineers are high on and who reportedly have visited.
Offensive Line: (Marcell Lazard, Tyler Tezeno) With the loss of Tyler Edwards to Baylor, I'd expect at least 2 more and possibly as many as 3 offensive linemen to join the class. And while WVU does lose the majority of its starters up front, the talent is waiting in the wings to fill in behind them. I really like what we have in the fold both in Morgantown and in our commits so far. Bill Bedenbaugh is really cleaning up here.
Defensive Line: (D'Asian Richardson) Guys like Eric Kinsey, Christian Brown and Korey Harris were able to step in and play some early, which really firms up our defensive line, with Imarjaye Albury and Noble Nwatchukwu having redshirted and ready to provide depth. Richardson is a huge talent if we can keep him committed and eligible, but I'd expect to see another couple recruits in the fold here too, probably one of the JUCO variety. Marcus Hardison is a name to watch here.
Linebacker: (Al-Rasheed Benton, Isaac McDonald, Elijah Wellman, Darrien Howard, Hodari Christian, Marvin Gross) Even with Wellman likely moving to fullback and Marvin Gross being more an edge rusher (think Josh Francis), we are likely full at linebacker with another very strong class.
Defensive Back: (Daryl Worley, Malik Greaves, Terrell Pinson) Despite the struggles of the Mountaineers' secondary, don't expect to see a flood of defensive backs in this class. The bodies are there, and coaches can't try a quick fix at the expense of other positions. Rather, it will be left to the development of Ricky Rumph, Terrell Chestnut and Nana Kyremeh to firm up the back end of the defense. That being said, Pinson will enroll early and names like JUCO Nate Willis and former Auburn lean Jahmere Irvin-Sills are popping up as potential additions.
Special Teams: WVU took K Josh Lambert and LS John DePalma late last year and given the punting issues, it wouldn't shock me at all to see us offer a punter in this class. Shady Spring native Houstin Syvertson would be my choice, but the staff may have someone else in mind. They may even ask Syvertson to come as a preferred walk-on, depending on how things shake out.
In all, there are a total of 21 verbals. 4 of those are JUCOs. Given a total in the range of 28-30 (depending on what type of risks the staff wants to take on kids with academic issues and other judgment calls), there will likely be in the neighborhood of 7-9 more pledges between now and signing day, with approximately half of those being JUCO kids or early enrollees. And given last year's Orange Bowl victory and the opportunities for playing time that dot the Mountaineers' current roster, there is plenty of incentive for some very talented players to head toward Morgantown.
Stay tuned here and we will keep you updated with the latest in WVU recruiting!