You're bummed. This season didn't go the way we wanted it to. I know, I'm bummed to. You need some good news - and we here at the Smoking Musket have it for you. We're introducing a new weekly feature where Chris Anderson of Eersports.com (of the 247Sports.com network) will drop by and lend his considerable expertise to provide a snapshot of the WVU recruiting landscape.
For those of you that aren't familiar with his work, Chris covers all aspects of Mountaineers with emphasis on recruiting. His Twitter account (@CMAnderson247) is a must-follow for all WVU fans as in my opinion he does perhaps the best job of anyone out there with providing thoughtful in-game stats. It's no coincidence that his work makes frequent appearances in my weekly Mountaineer Retweet.
But enough from me, I'll turn it over to the man himself as we kick off this feature with a quick Q & A to give introductions and his thoughts on recruiting and WVU:
The Smoking Musket: For those that don’t know you, give us a quick rundown. Who you are, where you’re from and most importantly what you’re focused on in your coverage of WVU.
Chris Anderson: I'm the publisher of EerSports.com, the West Virginia site on the 247Sports Network, and I am also an analyst and recruiting insider for the network. I was born in South Charleston, West Virginia, but have moved around plenty in my life - Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Florida and Virginia. My personal focus is on the recruiting aspect of WVU football and basketball. I feel there's so much to discuss on that topic and it's forever changing, always keeping people on their toes. It also gives fans hope for the future and it's something that will never end - year after year, the interest will be there.
TSM: Give us the quick primer on your site EerSports and its parent site, 247Sports.
CA: Well, we're not just recruiting, of course. We have several people on site in Morgantown that help with day-by-day coverage. Alissa Hudak and Ryan Vanburen are two interns from the WVU Journalism School that cover both football and basketball games and talk with the coaches and players for interview. Craig Gunter is our professional photographer that provides shots from game day and other events, and Ryan Vucelik has excellent knowledge of the game and helps with coverage and provides his insight. For those that are not familiar with 247Sports, it was started by Shannon Terry, the same man who originally created Rivals back in the day. Once he sold it to Yahoo, he took a couple years off before starting up 247Sports. We have many long-time veterans in recruiting scene and have coverage from coast-to-coast, as well as the most advanced profile pages and recruiting tools in the industry. Earlier this year, we became an official partner with CBSSports.
TSM: What are the insights you can give fans that they won't find anywhere else?
CA: I like to bring a mix of the facts as well as my opinions, providing more behind-the-scenes coverage than you'll see elsewhere. Instead of providing quotes and leaving it at that, I share my thoughts on what those quotes mean and what else I'm hearing from others in the industry and those close to recruits. I prefer to do so in a variety of different ways, too, coming up with unique ways to relay the information rather than your standard one person interview. It's been successful enough that many of our original ideas are starting to show up elsewhere.
TSM: I've heard about the "crystal ball" feature you guys do - can you tell folks about that?
CA: Instead of saying "maybe" and "possibly" for most every recruit, the Crystal Ball provides an opportunity for our analysts - and any expert for newspapers and other websites - to put their reputation on the line and make their picks public. It also provides a one-stop shop to see either where all WVU targets are predicted to go, or all the picks that each expert has made.
TSM: There's been a lot of talk about building depth in the wake of some tough losses. Where do you feel WVU is in that process?
CA: I think Dana Holgorsen hit it on the head in his press conference when he said with a near full class this year, the team will finally be approaching the 85-man limit. Stacking two or three classes in a row with quality recruits is a must and it's something they will have to continue with each subsequent class. You can "miss" on one class (and even that could be a stretch), but if you miss on two, things will go south fast. West Virginia did worse than that, going 50-50 (at best) with the 2010, 2011 and 2012 classes. The 2013 class was a big step up, and 2014 should be even better.
TSM: Why are the next few weeks so important to recruiting and the program?
CA: With no bowl game to worry about, the coaches will have more opportunity than usual to hit the road recruiting. Not only that, but for the first time in a long time, the coaches will finish the season and be ready to jump right back in to full fledged recruiting. The final game is on November 30th, and the contact period starts December 1st, allowing coaches to visit top targets right away, while other schools are still practicing, either for a bowl game or a game the following weekend. With that head start, the coaches should be able to finish strong and continue their strong start to the 2015 class as well.
Thanks again to Chris for providing his insights and we look forward to an offseason of good news. As I said, you should definitely give him a follow on Twitter and drop by Eersports.com and see what he's got going on there. We're still tweaking what this feature will look like and would love any of your suggestions. Shoot them at me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned as we'll have more coming soon with this exciting new feature.....