On Wednesday, news broke that former Florida quarterback Will Grier had decided to transfer to WVU. He will have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. This year will count as his redshirt year and he'll enter 2017 with three years of eligibility left. Grier isn't the only player to decide that Dana Holgorsen and the Air Raid offense offer a chance to showcase skill, talent and ability. Due to a lack of scholarships when he first took over as head coach, Dana has relied on junior college (JUCO) transfers and post-graduate transfers to help fill out his roster. He has also gotten creative taking on some players who have decided they no longer fit at a school and needed a different location in order to see playing time.
5. Rushel Shell
You might be thinking to yourself "Oh yeah Shell was a transfer." I know when I first started this list I actually forgot to include Rushel because he's been on the team for three years already. Rushel originally transfered after the 2012 season. The all-time rushing leader in Pennsylvania high school history and the nephew to former Pitt alum Tony Dorsett, Rushel arrived at the University of Pittsburgh with high accolades and high expectations. His freshman year was very good as he rushed for over 641 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. Rushel sat out the 2013 season, using his redshirt and saw his first action as a Mountaineer in 2014 against the juggernaut that is Alabama.
Rushel's 2014 campaign was good, if not maybe a little tempered. Rushel proved to a capable running back as he retained his 4.5 yards per carry average and saw an increased workload, resulting in 788 yards. Rushel isn't a natural fit at West Virginia, given that his running style is best suited for a Big Ten type team that runs power isolation and gives him 20-25 carries a game.
4. Mario Alford
In 2012, when West Virginia first joined the Big 12, Tavon Austin set the world on fire. Tavon set a school and Big 12 record in all-purpose yards in a special night against Oklahoma. When Tavon was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, WVU was left in need for a speedy playmaker for the offense. Insert Mario Alford, a JUCO transfer from Georgia Military College. Alford didn't set the world on fire in 2013 but he did showcase his speed, averaging 20 yards per catch. In 2014, with a year under his belt and a healed and improved quarterback, Alford became a big-play, highlight-reel, Tavon Austin-esque playmaker who routinely took quick slants and ran away from defenders.
Alford was an excellent number two receiver for the Mountaineers. He complimented the offense extremely well and helped bridge the team between the Geno Smith-Tavon Austin-Stedman Bailey years to the new crop of receivers with Shelton Gibson and company. Mario was selected in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cincinatti Bengals.
3. Clint Trickett
Trickett, the son of former WVU coach Rick Trickett, started his career at Florida State. Clint was a backup to EJ Manuel for two seasons, appearing in 17 games over two seasons. When it became apparent that Clint would not start for the Seminoles, Clint transferred to WVU. Clint was responsible for two of the more memorable upsets in his two years at West Virginia: the 2013 upset of #11 Oklahoma State and the 2014 upset of #5 Baylor.
Clint didn't have the strongest arm but he was deadly accurate on deep throws. After a rocky start to his campaign, which included having to wait 4 games while Paul Millard and Ford Childress got chances and not fully understanding the hand signals, Clint got healthy for 2014 and the offense was humming. Clint was the emotional leader of the team, offering praise for the offensive line and buying them dinner if he wasn't sacked during a game. Clint was tough, despite his 180 pound frame and inability to increase his weight due to a medical condition. He also had that hair.
2. Charles Sims
Charles Sims is number two on this list for a couple of reasons. The first is that despite the disastrous 2013 season, which only resulted in 4 wins for the program, Charles was a shining light on the field. The second reason is the wisdom and work ethic Charles imparted on players like Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood. Both players have credited Charles for showing them how to prepare, how to study film, how to find the nuances of the offense and how to carry themselves both on and off the field.
Charles first played for Dana Holgorsen at the University of Houston. In the spring of 2013, Charles graduated from Houston and transferred to West Virginia, hoping to showcase his versatile skill set to a broader audience. It worked. In his only year in the Big 12, Charles broke 1,000 yards rushing and added another 400 yards receiving. He scored 14 touchdowns for the Mountaineers and was the lone bright spot on the offense. These accolades led to Charles being named Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year and First Team All Big 12. Charles was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
1. Kevin White
It had to be Kevin, right? The 2014 season of Kevin White was nothing short of magical. 109 receptions for 1400+ yards and 10 touchdowns. An All American, First Team All Big 12 and Biletnikoff Finalist, Kevin may be the the best wide receiver to ever come through West Virginia. Kevin embodied everything you want in an NFL number one wide receiver, height, speed, physicality, the ability to catch the ball with your hands and the ability to win 50-50 balls. Was Kevin's coming out party against national powerhouse Alabama when he torched Brandon Sylve? Or was it against Maryland when Kevin hauled in over 200 yards? Or was it against Oklahoma when Kevin torched Zack Sanchez? By the time the #5 Baylor Bears came to town, no one was surprised when Kevin made difficult, one-handed catches for touchdowns.
Kevin transferred from Lackawanna College and started a family tradition. With Kevin's transfer to WVU and his subsequent rise to stardom, Kevin helped prove West Virginia was a place for junior college players to come and showcase their skills. It also provided a family connection for both of Kevin's younger brothers, Ka'Raun and Kyzir. Ka'Raun showcased a similar skill set to Kevin last year and the reports coming out of spring practice indicate Ka'Raun is improving. Kyzir was one of the top targets for the Mountaineers in the 2015 recruiting cycle and looks to play safety for the Mountaineers.
Nick O'Toole, who provided the greatest facial hair and inspired a great nickname, Boomstache. Kyle Bosch, a Michigan transfer who immediately jumped into the offensive line and helped pave the way for a Big 12 rushing title for Wendell Smallwood. Michael Ferns, who also transferred from Michigan and likely helped persuade his brother, Brendan, to play for the Mountaineers. Dreamius Smith, who teamed with Charles Sims in 2013.