Last week we began a new feature, The Signing Musket, where Chris Anderson of EerSports.com (of the 247Sports.com network) drops in to answer our Mountaineer recruiting questions. Join us for a quick Q&A and at the end learn how to join the conversation!
The Smoking Musket: With the scrutiny on the coaching staff, who would you say are the best recruiters? Would you describe any of them as indispensable on the recruiting trail?
Chris Anderson: Tony Gibson, JaJuan Seider and Lonnie Galloway all currently rank in the Top20 of the Big12 assistant coaches, per our 247Sports Recruiter Rankings. "Gibby" is credited with four commits right now - Ricky Rogers, Jaylon Myers, Amanii Brown and Josh Krok - and is the lead on a couple other big-time targets, including Top247 defensive back Dravon Henry and teammate, defensive tackle Jaleel Fields. As far as this class is concerned, I think he is the most indispensable, but long haul, it would be much more difficult to replace Seider and Galloway in Florida, the Carolinas and into the mid-Atlantic.
TSM: With the need to build depth and the urgency this staff will feel, how is this current class looking? Where are they ranked relative to other conference foes?
CA: Right now, 247Sports ranks West Virginia sixth in the conference, behind Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, respectively. It will be difficult for WVU to get to the top of these rankings every year, though, simply because everyone else in the conference has such fertile recruiting grounds to pick from. Still, they have a good shot to surpass Texas Tech and an outside chance of passing Oklahoma, which would make this one of the best classes in school history.
Personally, I think the staff has hit some major needs with big-time players in this class. There were concerns on the offensive line, and the staff went out and picked up six, including two junior college players that are enrolling in January. Cornerback Jaylon Myers is a potential All-American at corner that the staff stole early, and they could potentially bring in two quarterbacks to help solve the deficiency under center next year. More on that below.
TSM: Who are the big swing guys in this upcoming class that will determine if its considered a success?
CA: Monday, Aliquippa (PA) defensive back Dravon Henry will be making his announcement between West Virginia and Pitt. He would be the highest-rated player in this class and a difference maker from Day One. Getting him is paramount, especially considering all the effort the staff has put toward him. Fellow Top247 prospect, running back Donte Thomas-Williams, would also be a big boost. I don't necessarily feel he's as crucial to the class as Henry, but he could be the lone running back in the class and is an immense talent.
TSM: Is there any indication that the current coaching situation is influencing recruiting? Do you think kids are hesitant to sign with a staff that may not be there in a year?
CA: Honestly, this is one of the first years where I have not heard a peep from recruits about the coaching staff not being around. Even last year, opposing coaches were filling recruits heads with talk of a mass exodus of WVU assistant coaches. Granted, they were right, but there just hasn't been talk this year, even after the poor season.
TSM: The quarterback position is clearly the one with the most scrutiny and the big name out there is William Crest. What's your feel of him? Is it realistic to think a redshirt freshman could have an impact?
CA: Big fan of him, both as a player and a person. He's got a big arm, is mobile when he needs to be, and, most of all, he is very intelligent. He'll be able to grasp the playbook quickly and will make better decisions than fans saw from the quarterback position this year. As for how soon he will contribute, that's tough to say. He had planned on getting here in January, but the Baltimore City school district would not allow it. Had he been able to do that, I would have given him an outside shot of competing for the starting job. However, not arriving until the summer will put him behind the eight ball a little bit. Still, I feel he has the potential to be a star down the road.
TSM: Any other QB prospects you have your eye on for WVU, juco or otherwise?
CA: Funny you should ask. Just two weekends ago, West Virginia offered Riverside (CA) C.C. quarterback Skyler Howard, who we at 247Sports have ranked as the top junior college dual-threat quarterback in the country. He is not the size of your typical quarterback (just a hair over 6-foot), but he is extremely mobile, has a good arm, and is very accurate. He's someone that WVU coaches I'm sure wish could have been in Morgantown a year earlier, because with a whole spring practice, I think he could have taken the starting job this season. While undecided, he is visiting West Virginia this weekend and I feel strongly that he will commit on, or shortly after, his trip. If he does, he will arrive in January and work out with the team all spring.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check in next week. This is an evolving feature and we'd love to get your input. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or shoot us a tweet at @SmokingMusket or @abpriddy and let us know about any recruiting questions you have for us to pass along to Chris. Also be sure you're following him at @CMAnderson247 to get the latest in WVU news - recruiting and otherwise.