WVU recruiting expert Chris Anderson was kind enough to answer some questions about the end of this recruiting season and how WVU is looking for National Signing Day. Let's get started, shall we?
Matt: For those who haven't been following, can you give us the broad strokes of this class? What areas did WVU target specifically and how successful were they at hitting those goals?
Chris: If I had to list a top three goals for this class, even about this time a year ago, they would have been to rebuild the secondary, find immediate difference makers at linebacker, and get a couple more toys for the offense. As it stands now, I would say the staff has checked off all three, albeit some a little more strongly than others.
Running backs Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway, and wide receivers Steven Smothers and Marcus Simms are four of the more talented offensive skill position players to commit to West Virginia in recent memory - and that's saying a lot.
At linebacker, Logan Thimons, Zach Sandwisch and Adam Hensley are three All-State performers who could make an impact early in their careers. Thimons enrolling early might give him a leg up on getting into the rotation for 2016.
Finally, the defensive backfield. The Mountaineers got a couple of their top targets early - high school defensive backs Sean Mahone, Dylan Tonkery, and Jacob Long, and JUCO safety Kyzir White. They struggled a bit to finish out the group, missing on several targets before picking up Toyous Avery (another JUCO) and JoVanni Stewart this past weekend. If they can add a couple more JUCO guys in the last few days, WVU fans should be happy. (And yes, there is a need for a few JUCO guys in this class. There's currently only one scholarship defensive back that is a sophomore or junior.)
Matt: Who, in your opinion, are the biggest names that West Virginia managed to reel in this year?
Chris: Easy to pick Steven Smothers and Kyzir White, seeing as they are the top two rated targets, per 247Sports. White is the nation's top JUCO safety and plays a position of dire need for 2016. Smothers is a special kind of talent that was a long-time Mountaineer fan. Losing out on either would have hurt.
I'd throw in Kennedy McKoy as another. Even as a high three-star, I feel he might be a bit underrated and with his early enrollment, he could make an impact early in his career.
Matt:Conversely, who are the hidden gems? What two and three star prospects do you see making big impacts down the line?
Chris: Linebacker Logan Thimons is a low three-star prospect, who I feel wasn't ranked higher because he was forced to play out of position in high school (defensive end), and he committed to early to WVU and didn't camp anywhere for scouts to see. He didn't even send out a full senior highlight tape to be rated before enrolling in Morgantown earlier this month.
The same could be said for Reese Donahue, another early enrollee who pledged to the Mountaineers long before camps. A couple years from now, the two could be staples on the West Virginia defense.
Matt:The big name right now is Brendan Ferns out of St. Clairsville. Where does West Virginia stand in his recruitment?
Chris: West Virginia and Penn State will battle it out until the end. The four-star linebacker was scheduled to visit Penn State this past weekend, and then West Virginia this coming one. Weather, however, canceled his trip to Happy Valley, and now he has a tough decision to make - keep his already-scheduled WVU trip, or head out to PSU since he has been to Morgantown so many times. That decision has still not been made (as of Tuesday afternoon), and whatever he chooses will likely give a sign as to where he's leading.
Matt: How is signing day shaping up? Are we looking at a quiet day of coverage, or do you see some action in the way of last second flips? And, in that event, are they going to be for or against the good guys?
Chris: The years of fifteen to twenty guys making their final decision on National Signing Day has come and gone, but there will still be some action with a handful of West Virginia's top targets. I expect the Mountaineers to finish strong and, right now, I have Ferns penciled into the class. I also like West Virginia's chances with tight end Jovani Haskins and junior college cornerbacks Mike Daniels and Elijah Battle.