Welcome to our weekly edition of The Signing Musket, where Chris Anderson, publisher of EerSports.com (of the 247Sports.com network) drops in to answer our Mountaineer recruiting questions. Join us for a quick Q&A and join the conversation in the comments section!
The Smoking Musket: Looked like the Mountaineers had a big day among JUCOs Wednesday. Can you give folks an overview of who they picked up and where those guys could fit in?
Chris Anderson: Really, it was a huge day in filling needs to help the team right away next year.
West Virginia struggled at the quarterback position all year long, so they brought in one of the top playmakers at the position in Skyler Howard - with both his arm and his feet - to help elevate the competition this spring. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes out on top of the battle and is the starter against Alabama in the fall.
Both starting tackles are gone, so in comes Sylvester Townes, a massive 6-foot-8, 285-pound prospect that could conceivably fill one of those spots right away. The defense still struggled to defend the pass last year, so they added Keishawn Richardson, one of the top corners at the junior college ranks. And, finally, WVU did not get to the quarterback as much as they had liked, so here comes former South Carolina Gamecock Edward Muldrow, who has the length and speed to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
Again, all four are guys who could play right away and all four fill major needs for the Mountaineers.
TSM: Do any of them have a legit chance to start?
CA: I'd say all of them do, but here are my odds in descending order: Townes (80%), Richardson (70%), Howard (60%), and Muldrow (30%). Townes will be in an open competition for the job, as will Howard at quarterback. I believe Richardson has the skills to jump ahead of someone like Ishmael Banks, but Muldrow may have to settle for being in the rotation since Brandon Golson is ahead of him.
TSM: Speaking of JUCOs, here's a question from reader Chad W. in Lexington, KY. "How much of an impact does JUCOs being able to enroll in January play when WVU is evaluating them? I know there were higher ranked DBs - Tee Shepard and Pat Martin come to mind - but we seemed to back off of them."
CA: It's huge. To be honest, JUCOs not graduating until May often times do not get recruited at all until late in the process. Take defensive end Terry Ayeni for example. He is a four-star prospect that just last month had no offers. Now Texas, West Virginia, South Florida and more are in the picture.
Getting that extra spring and summer is essentially getting an extra year of development in the system. WVU fans saw how much it helped with guys like Kevin White and Daikiel Shorts (although he was a high schooler) last year. Simply put, not being able to enroll early can keep a player from getting a scholarship and that definitely happened with a few targets that were on the board early.
TSM: Where does this put the WVU class as ranked now? I know a couple weeks ago you had them slotted 6th in the Big 12. Has that changed? Also I noticed a feature on the site called the Class Calculator, can you tell folks about that?
CA: Yes, it has changed. West Virginia vaulted over Texas Tech and is now fifth in the conference behind Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The Cowboys are pretty much full, and if WVU finishes strong, they could pass them. Depending on how many more the Sooner can take, the Mountaineers could pass them as well. There's no passing Texas, and it would take a couple surprises to leapfrog Baylor.
The Class Calculator is a unique feature to 247Sports that allows fans to add/subtract players from any team's class to see where they would end up in the rankings. For instance, West
Virginia currently has 187.26 points and is 37th in the 247Sports Team Rankings. Let's say I add RB Donte Thomas-Williams, WR Trevion Thompson, WR Charles Nelson, TE Darrion Hutcherson, DE Terry Ayeni and DB DaeJuan Funderburk to the class, giving WVU a nice, even 25 commits. According to the Class Calculator, they would have 211.78 points at that point and be sitting in 22nd place.
Fans can try it with any combination for any team by going HERE
TSM: A little off the recruiting beat, but on the basketball side of things, what are you hearing on Jonathan Holton? If you had to place odds on his potentially playing, what would those be?
CA: People close to the program are getting more confident as time passes. I was originally told there was virtually no chance he would play, but as of a couple weeks ago, one source had upped that percentage to around 30-percent that he would be in uniform by January. Bob Huggins backed that feeling up this week by saying he had not ruled Holton out, yet. If he joins the team within the next couple weeks, I feel he could help lift this team over .500 for the year, with an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament.
TSM: Any other bball related news you'd like to pass along? This team is young and promising, but still a couple guys away. Do you see help (aside from Holton) on the horizon for next year?
CA: As most everybody saw, Bob Huggins was in attendance for last night's Huntington Prep game in Indiana. He was obviously there to watch current commit Levi Cook (a 2015 prospect), but also was evaluating 2014 shooting guard JaQuan Lyle, 2015 center Thomas Bryant, 2016 small forward Miles Bridges and 2015 shooting guard Montaque Gill-Caesar.
Right now, the 2014 class has two players - shooting guard Jevon Carter and point guard Daxter Miles. Carter is similar to where Eron Harris was coming out of high school, and I'm sure Bob Huggins and WVU fans hope he has the same trajectory for improvement. Miles originally committed as a 2013 but needed to go to prep school. He's a dynamic point guard who can get to the rim and dishes the ball well.
Numbers say that should be the end of the class but, as is always the case in basketball, I suspect there will be another addition to the class down the road if Huggins feels someone is needed .
We once again appreciate Chris lending us his insight for the week and even more appreciate you stopping by to check it out. If you want a heapin' helpin' of this type of great recruiting info on a daily basis, head on over EerSports.com where they're running a 30-Day trial for fans as we approach National Signing Day.
As I've said before, this is an evolving feature and we'd love to get your input. If you have questions you'd like us to pass along to Chris or thoughts please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or shoot us a tweet at @SmokingMusket or @abpriddy. Also be sure you're following him at @CMAnderson247 to get the latest in WVU news - recruiting and otherwise.
We'll probably take next week off for the holidays, but here's wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Boxing Day, Happy anything else and just general goodwill. We love the community we're building here at the Musket and couldn't be more excited for 2014.
See you soon!