In many ways, WVU 2013 National Signing Day went as well as could reasonably be expected. What started out as a solid class chock full of 3-star players who will likely form the nucleus of Mountaineer teams for the next few years ended with a flurry of activity that saw several potential All-Big XII performers wind up in Morgantown. The Mountaineers missed on WR Tyler Boyd, who ended up sticking with Pitt after flirting with WVU, but landed four outstanding prospects today in S Jeremy Tyler, JUCO RB Mario Alford, JUCO LB Brandon Golson, and ATH Marquion Lane more than making up for that loss. We will have a more detailed breakdown later in the week, but here are my initial thoughts:
Are there holes in the class? Absolutely. Defensive line and corner are two areas where the WVU defense struggled in 2012, and this class did nothing to relieve those concerns. Granted, there is some potential there with ATH Marquion Lane and DL Dontrill Hyman capable of producing. And there are players on the roster for 2013 who could still step up. But those positions will need to be major areas of emphasis in 2014, with a couple JUCO DL likely the biggest need.
What it lacks on the defensive line and at corner, the class more than makes up for it in linebackers and running backs. The Mountaineers already have a pretty good group of young linebackers, with guys like Isaiah Bruce, Doug Rigg and Jared Barber all returning for 2013. But with the switch to the 3-4 creating more of a need, Holgorsen and Patterson reached out and secured seven more players to fill those positions, although a couple could move to rush end or safety. And it's a very good seven, with a great blend of size, speed and smarts, as well as a few JUCOs mixed in to help balance out the classes. MLB Darrien Howard (6'2/240) is the class's top rated prospect, but look out for MLB Al-Rasheed Benton (6'2/230) and JUCO OLBs Brandon Golson (6'3/220) and D'Vante Henry (6'6/215) to compete for immediate playing time.
The running back class is much needed as well to fill in behind Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie, who remain the only two scholarship A Backs on the roster. Expect JUCO RB Dreamius Smith, an early enrollee, to be a breakout star, while Wendell Smallwood and Deshawn Coleman back him up. JUCO RB Mario Alford and RB Jacky Marcellus, coming off a knee injury, may end up moving to slot.
There are a ton of JUCO players, probably a result of Holgorsen's realization that we needed an immediate infusion of talent to compete in the Big XII. RB Dreamius Smith and WR Kevin White enrolled early, but WR Ronald Carswell, LB D'Vante Henry, OL Stone Underwood, DL Dontrill Hyman, LB Brandon Golson and RB/WR Mario Alford will all get here in the summer and hopefully make an immediate impact.
Best player: WR Shelton Gibson. The shifty wideout from Cleveland Heights picked WVU over Ohio State and Tennessee and has all the makings of a great one, with hands, shiftiness, and speed to burn. He will likely return kicks and punts as well.
Hidden gem: OL Stone Underwood. Underwood was lightly recruited due to an injury, but most analysis really like his toughness and intelligence, which are two great assets for a center. With a hole at center after Joe Madsen
graduated exhausted his eligibility, Underwood should fill that void nicely.
What are your thoughts on this class?