Welcome back to our weekly edition of The Signing Musket, where Chris Anderson of EerSports.com gives us the latest on Mountaineer Recruiting. It was a big week for WVU, so let's get rolling!
The Smoking Musket: Lot of news coming out of Florida for WVU this week, so the first couple questions will focus on that. First WVU hired former Mountaineer player and Miramar High football coach Damon Cogdell as a defensive assistant (on the same day that defensive line Erik Slaughter was let go). Obviously the Miramar pipeline has been great for WVU with Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey, but what is the feel for Cogdell's ability to cast a wider net? Will he have a huge effect?
Chris Anderson: I definitely feel he will have a big effect. There will be an initial burst now with a couple commitments, but down the road he will continue to be a strong addition. I've spoken with a couple of coaches and analysts down there, and everyone is in agreement - while a good thing for WVU to have him working at one school, it's even better to have him out recruiting numerous schools while working at WVU. I think the combination of both he and JaJuan Seider will result in more south Florida recruits than ever before.
The Smoking Musket: Somewhat related, we secured the commitment of Miramar 2015 wide receiver Khalil Lewis and also 2015 running back Alex Anderson earlier in the week. Can you give us the quick rundown on them?
Chris Anderson: Lewis is someone I compared very favorably to Stedman Bailey at the same point in their careers - a bit undersized, above average but not elite speed, and amazing hands. From his junior to the end of his senior year, Bailey made a tremendous leap, and then went on to be the record-breaking collegiate receiver and NFL wideout that he is today. So now it's up to Lewis to see if he can take the same path.
For now, I would consider Anderson a heavy lean to the Mountaineers rather than a commit, but figure he will be on the commitment list one day, possibly when he visits in the spring or summer. Maybe sooner. He's a talented back, more of a straight line runner than can bowl people over. He gets the ball, he sees his destination and he goes there - not a whole lot of zig-zagging or dancing around in the backfield.
The Smoking Musket: Any other Florida news out there?
Chris Anderson: Always a lot. The biggest right now would be that another teammate, four-star safety Kendrell McFadden, is announcing his commitment tonight. He claims that West Virginia is not in the top group, but I'd be around at 7:00PM ET if I were a Mountaineer fan, just in case.
As for 2014, First Team All-State wide receiver CJ Worton out of South Dade (FL) plans to visit next weekend. He has already been to campus once and is good friends with current commit Jacob McCrary. However, Worton is currently committed to Florida State, and is also considering visits to Ole Miss and Florida, with the Gators having offered just yesterday.
The Smoking Musket: Any news out of this week's Offense-Defense All-American Bowl? I know there was the hope that some of WVU's big commits would put in a good word with Donte Thomas-Williams, any good (or bad) indicators?
Chris Anderson: All three commits - linebacker Davonte James, quarterback William Crest, and wide receiver Jacob McCrary - said they were heavily recruiting the four-star back to join them in West Virginia. While "DTW" did not commit - nor was he expected to - he did move his official visit to Morgantown up a week, from January 24th to January 17th. I consider that a very good sign for the Mountaineers.
The big story this week was the University of Louisville setting aside any pretenses of decency to bringon staff. I saw there was one decommit almost immediately as soon as the news came out (George Rushing, a 3-star WR from Ft. Lauderdale, FL). Any chance WVU could sneak in and steal some talent from a coach with so much baggage?
Defensive end Rashawn Shaw is the name to keep a close eye on. He says the WVU coaches reached out to him almost immediately and he intends to take a visit to Morgantown later this month, although no date has been set at this time. Wide receiver Desean Blair tentatively set up a visit, too, but Nebraska came in with an offer and asked him to come there that weekend instead, which he will do. Another defensive end, Terry Ramsey, had West Virginia as his leader before a summer visit to Louisville resulted in his commitment. He says that he is firm in his pledge at this time, though.
The Smoking Musket: It seems like there's a growing buzz about this WVU 2015 class. Aside from the two kids we just mentioned, can you give us a quick primer on that class? Where is it ranked and how high could it go? Doesn't this make the results on the field in 2014 even MORE important as far as giving this staff more time and holding the class together?
Chris Anderson: The class is currently ranked 14th in the nation, but if the Mountaineers were to secure the commitment of Kendrell McFadden tonight, they would jump Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, South Carolina and LSU into 9th.
West Virginia is also in the picture for some very highly-regarded prospects, too. Four-star running backdeclared WVU his leader earlier in the winter, and the Mountaineers are in very good position for his teammate, 0.8830-rated offensive tackle, Matt Jones. Jacquez and Jordan Adams, a pair of twins from Franklin (MD), hold over a dozen offers combined, but West Virginia is the only one to offer both - and that has them sitting pretty. The list of juniors with WVU in their "top group" - whether it be three or four or more - is too long to rattle off here, and I think that's why you might see 2015 recruiting slow down a bit. Lots of talent to choose from.
But with that, as you mentioned, come the expectations for the team this fall. If West Virginia expects to haul in a top-notch class and keep it together, the recruits will expect to see results on the field. Another sub-.500 year (or even sub 8-4 year) would likely result in plenty of turmoil next December and January.
The Smoking Musket: And for the final shot - and this is probably how we'll end this every week until National Signing Day - any word on some of the big guns hanging out there for WVU you discussed last week? We talked earlier about DTW, but any good (or bad) news on DE Terry Ayeni, DaeJuan Funderburk or TE Darrien Hutcherson, or others?
Chris Anderson: Terry Ayeni is up in the air with the "letting go" of defensive line coach Erik Slaughter, who was the only coach on staff that Ayeni had really spoken to at great length. He says he still intends to visit at the end of the month, but is interested to see who reaches out to him from WVU and who they hire (whether it's Damon Cogdell or someone else on the staff changes roles) at defensive line coach.
Things are status quo for DaeJuan Funderburk and Darrion Hutchers. Funderburk plans to visit next weekend, and I expect him to commit on, or shortly after, the trip, assuming he is a "take" at the moment. Hutcherson is still deciding between Cincinnati, West Virginia and Mississippi State, with a trip to Starkville still on the schedule.
The other name to keep an eye on is Kenderius Whitehead. He recently set up a visit to Morgantown and attends the same junior college that Mario Alford and Brandon Golson did. Tony Gibson is at it again!
Thanks as always to Chris for stopping by and giving us the scoop this week and thanks to you for reading. If you want daily updates on all the Mountaineer recruits as we get closer to National Signing Day on February 5th, head on over to EerSports.com where Chris and his crew will keep you abreast. They're running a free seven day trial now, so give it a try.
Finally we're here for you, so if you have questions you'd like us to pass along to Chris as a part of this segment, leave them in the comment section here, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us up on Twitter: @abpriddy or @SmokingMusket. And be sure you're following Chris at @CMAnderson247 to get the latest. He's always sending great chunks of info out.
See you next week!