West Virginia football had another big weekend as momentum grows. The story of the season so far has undoubtedly been the play of the defense and it will be interesting to see if it can positively impact defensive recruiting. Two big-time uncommitted defensive prospects were on campus this past weekend and West Virginia definitely wants to try to gain as much favor in their recruitment as possible.
Brendan Ferns is the first of the uncommitted duo and he is a prospect that has been familiar with West Virginia for a good while. For those who forget, Ferns is the 6'3", 220 lbs. linebacker whose brother Michael transferred from Michigan. Hopefully the visit can continue to increase his interest as he would really cap the linebacker class off with a bang, especially after losing Jango Glackin in the early summer to Northwestern. Penn State is going to be a factor in his recruitment, not to mention Ohio State still has room and interest.
If he ended up not coming to West Virginia it wouldn't cripple the class and there are some promising LBs on the roster already (Benton, Preston, etc.) but Ferns is a top tier recruit who would be awesome to have in the fold. He could easily become the next Nick Kwiatkoski; the guy is a tackling machine. Highlights posted below if you haven't seen them/don't believe me.
Kaezon Pugh was expected to be at game as it seems like West Virginia is gaining some momentum on that recruiting front. Pugh has made his way to Morgantown the past two weekends and has been on the West Virginia recruiting radar since Dravon Askew-Henry (who is his cousin) was making his decision in 2014. He reportedly left his Friday night high school game with a leg injury so hopefully that did not affect the trip, though it didn't sound major.
Kaezon Pugh's recruitment is definitely one worth watching, as it will be interesting to see if West Virginia can retain their footprint in Aliquippa. Also it is always great to beat Pitt in anything. Kaezon is a 6'1, 200 lbs. linebacker/running back that seems destined to end up on defense much like Dravon who was a two-way star out of high-school. Pugh is an excellent running back but he still has awesome pursuit skills and a good nose for the ball. He would be an excellent fit as a spur hybrid linebacker/safety and with KJ Dillon graduating he could push for immediate playing time. The highlights below are a little old but Pugh's athleticism is still very apparent. This kid plus Kyzir could easily be WVU's future safeties in conjunction with Askew-Henry.
Pitt could still win this one but with West Virginia there is potential for early playing time, family ties, and now finally a successful defensive product on the field to watch. Playing alongside his cousin Dravon won't be the determining factor, but I think it gives WVU the edge in his decision making and should give his parents added comfort with the program, which makes a big difference. Plus this kind of stuff always helps.
Steven Smothers was the final big time commit in attendance and he seems more and more ready to be a Mountaineer next season ever day. Having the top commit in the class constantly going up to campus and tweeting about the Mountaineers is a huge boon for the class. It can really help hold things together from the top down if the stars of the class are solidly committed to the program. Plus quote of the day goes to Steven as well.
WVU wide receiver core next year sheesh !!— 7God ⚡️ (@kingsmoth_) September 13, 2015
Seriously though, the kid has a point. WVU has a quarterback (Howard) in the top 25 for passing yards and two receivers in the top 40 for receiving (Durante and Gibson) and this is with a young group that hasn't played much together. We will see if the success continues in conference play, but can you imagine the receiving corps next year with Shelton Gibson, Jovon Durante, Gary Jennings, and Ka'Ruan White all returning with experience as well as Steven Smothers added to the group? Teams are not going to like our 5 WR sets.
Hopefully West Virginia can continue the success and lock down a couple of the top visitors in the coming weeks but with recruiting everything is changeable. It is interesting to note that all three of the commits have family ties WVU in some way or another. Those ties definitely made a difference in Steven's recruitment; it remains to be see with Ferns and Pugh but it certainly doesn't hurt anything. Pugh is slated to decide in October right now so that decision is creeping up quickly along with Tony Butler's. Michigan has reportedly been getting involved in Butler's recruitment but WVU still has a solid chance. There is no set timeline for Brendan Fern's decision but it rumored to come this fall, though you never know how soon or late that could be.
October is going to be a big month for WVU between conference play starting and so many top recruits deciding. Hopefully WVU can get in the mix for some d-lineman between now and then, especially with Tyree Owens no longer on the squad (real shame, had great potential). Worse comes to worse though the staff could always convert Dontae Angus back from o-line to get some more bodies in there, plus last year's class had some good young players. If a few more prospects fall the right way this cycle, then the 2016 class would be the fourth year in a row that WVU has put together a solid 20+ prospect class with multiple 4 star recruits. This bodes very well for the continued development of the program.