Good morning everyone! Early signing period is just two days away, and the Mountaineer coaching staff has been hot on the recruiting trail to fill the positions of need for the 2018 season and beyond. Wednesday will be a day packed full of highs and lows as fax machines across the nation get overworked.
This signing day is especially weird because it’s the first time we’ve had this new early signing period that the NCAA instituted earlier this year. Most college football coaches are looking at this signing period as the real signing day, and will use the signing day in February that we are all used to as a last chance to shore up some holes in the class they sign this week. It’s all new and weird, but I promise we’ll get through it together.
We want to remind everyone that these guys making decisions today are mostly 17 and 18 year old kids. Don’t be that guy and go on a Twitter and other social media to attack a kid if he doesn’t choose the school you want him to pick.
Follow The Smoking Musket, starting early Wednesday morning, as we bring you all the latest news and analysis on the Mountaineer Football Class of 2018, and hopefully pick up a few surprises along the way.
How To Watch
The ESPN Family of Networks - ESPN will provide multi-day coverage of the early signing day period as the 2018 freshmen class is the first recruiting class to have the choice of utilizing the new signing period that runs for 72 hours beginning Wednesday, Dec. 20 and concluding Friday, Dec. 22. ESPNU will air a two-hour National Signing Day Special on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 2:30 p.m. ET and Friday, Dec. 22, at 3:30 p.m. Matt Schick will host both specials, joined by analyst Tom Luginbill, who has been a part of National Signing Day coverage since 2006. ESPN.com’s Tom VanHaaren will report throughout both shows.
What To Watch For
Things are a lot different this year, compared to even the 2017 recruiting class. The West Virginia coaching staff has this entire class pretty much sealed up. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a class of kids that have bonded together as much as this group has. If you’ve paid attention on social media, these guys already look like a tight-knit group.
Almost all of the recruits that have publicly committed to the Mountaineers are expected to sign their National Letter of Intent for West Virginia at some point over the three-day signing period, which runs through Friday. If you see that one of the current commitments haven’t signed their NLI, it doesn’t mean you need to freak out. There are a few prospects that will probably be waiting until the February signing date to make it official, but this has already been worked out between the recruits and the West Virginia coaching staff.
There are a few names that are currently undecided and will be choosing between 2 or more programs this week, some of which include the West Virginia Mountaineers. Below are the names of those players that will be announcing their decisions on Wednesday when they sign their National Letter of Intent. I don’t have concrete times for when these guys will be signing, but if that becomes available before Wednesday I will update this article.
Alex Williams (6'7"/250) DE | Pickerington North H.S., Pickerington, OH | ★★★
Vincent Gray (6'2/180) CB | Adams H.S., Rochester, MI | ★★★
Dominique Harrison (6'0"/185) CB | Blinn C.C, Brenham, TX | ★★★
Current Status: Committed to West Virginia
The Pickerington, Ohio native committed to West Virginia back in May, and has been a solid verbal since. That is, until Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer decided to show up at Pickerington North High School and tried to change the mind of the 6’7” defensive end. Williams doesn’t actually hold an offer from the Buckeyes at the time I’m writing this, but it’s sounds like one may come before Wednesday.
The Recruitburgler strikes again. It sucks for us, but that’s how recruiting goes. I’m not going to criticize a kid for making a decision. You win some, you lose some, but Urban Meyer can always go to Hell.
Prediction: Ohio State
Current Status: Committed to Missouri
On the flip side of the recruiting game, it’s West Virginia that’s encroaching on another school’s commit. Gray committed to the Tigers in July, but the Mountaineers have really come on strong down the stretch. Gray took an official visit to Morgantown last weekend, with the majority of the current class, and it looks like West Virginia left a lasting impression on the talented cornerback.
UPDATE (12/18/17 7:20PM): My, how quickly things change. You may have already seen the news on Twitter, but Vincent Gray may not sign anywhere this week. Michigan decided to swoop in late in the game, and finally offered the kid who’s been standing in their backyard this whole time. Logical thinking suggests that Harbaugh is trying to slow-play Gray, and wants him to hold off signing with someone else in case the Wolverines have a few open spots in their class. It’s the same thing we’re seeing from Urban Meyer. Birds of a feather...
Prediction: Doesn’t sign until February
Current Status: Committed to Arizona State
Harrison committed to Arizona State back in May, but a lot has changed since then. The Sun Devils fired head coach Todd Graham after he posted a 7-5 season, which was a realistic expectation for the team before the season began. The plan, at that point, was for Herm Edwards to take over the program as a “CEO-type” head coach, and retain all of Graham’s assistants. Of course, that was followed by Arizona State’s offensive AND defensive coordinators leaving, effectively flushing that plan down the toilet.
Harrison took an official visit to Morgantown this past weekend and, although he says it’s close between the Mountaineers and the Sun Devils, seems to be leaning toward signing with West Virginia
Prediction: West Virginia
Again, it’s going to be a really good signing class for West Virginia, but don’t get discouraged if it seems like we’re not making any headlines. Most of this class has been solid for a while, and now it’s just time for them to make it official.