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Early Signing Period: What To Watch For This Week

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year (unless you’re the University of Miami)!

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning everyone! Early signing period is just a day away, and the Mountaineer coaching staff has been hot on the recruiting trail to fill the positions of need for the 2019 season and beyond. Wednesday will be a day packed full of highs and lows as fax machines across the nation get overworked.

This is only the second Early Signing Period ever, as it was just approved by the NCAA prior to the 2017 football season. 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.

We want to remind everyone that these guys making decisions this week 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 2019, and hopefully pick up a few surprises along the way.

How To Watch

The ESPN Family of Networks - ESPN returns its multi-platform coverage for the second year of the three-day early National Signing Day period as members of the class of 2019 begin making their college choices official. The 2018 National Signing Day Special presented by Nissan will begin the day on ESPN2 at 10 a.m. ET before moving to ESPNU from noon- 3p.m. Matt Schick will host the full five hours, joined by analysts Tom Luginbill and Trevor Matich. Luginbill, ESPN’s director of recruiting, has been instrumental in ESPN’s National Signing Day Coverage since 2006. ESPN.com’s national recruiting reporter Tom VanHaaren will report throughout.

What To Watch For

Much like the 2018 signing class, the West Virginia coaching staff has this entire class pretty much sealed up for a while. If you’ve paid attention on social media, these guys look like a tight-knit group and call each other family already.

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.

West Virginia currently has 23 available scholarships remaining for the 2019 class, with transfer linebacker Vandarius Cowan and JUCO receiver Isaiah Esdale taking up the other two when they enrolled during this season. There are currently 15 recruits committed to the Mountaineers, leaving eight open spots for signing day surprises and for the staff to use on the JUCO and transfer market in the spring and summer.

Who

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.

Ali Jennings (6'2"/186) WR | Highland Springs H.S., Highland Springs, VA | ★★★

Tavian Mayo (5'11”/180) CB | Lee County H.S., Leesburgh, GA | ★★★

Isheem Young (5’10”/201 ) S | Imhotep Institute Charter School, Philadelphia, PA | ★★★

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Predictions

Ali Jennings

Current Status: Not committed

I’m honestly surprised Jennings hasn’t announced his commitment to the West Virginia yet. The Mountaineers have been the favorite for some time now, and he hasn’t really hid that fact. Jennings was in Morgantown this past weekend for his official visit and had nothing but great things to say about the experience, so we’re just waiting for tomorrow to make it official.

Prediction: West Virginia
Confidence: 100%

Tavian Mayo

Current Status: Not Committed

West Virginia offered back in March and although the staff stayed in contact with Mayo, there wasn’t any real movement in West Virginia’s favor until the Mountaineers’ season came to a close. Doug Belk visited Mayo for an in-home visit earlier this month, and returned with Dana Holgorsen and Tony Gibson to watch Tavian and his high school team win their second consecutive Georgia state championship.

West Virginia’s biggest competition here is Nebraska, but I think Doug Belk is an excellent closer and Mayo will join this class on Wednesday.

Prediction: West Virginia
Confidence: 85%

Isheem Young

Current Status: Not Committed

Isheem Young is a special case. For those not familiar, Young was a four-star prospect in the 2018 signing class, and was set to sign with Penn State last December before he got caught up with the wrong crowd and was arrested for robbing a WaWa in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 2017. Young could have faced up to 45 years behind bars but was given a break by the presiding judge, who moved his case to juvenile court. Young plead guilty to three counts of burglary and was placed in a juvenile detention facility.

Young has now reemerged and is eligible to join the 2019 class, if a program chooses to give him that chance, and West Virginia may just be the perfect landing spot.

Isheem also visited Morgantown for an official visit this past weekend, but it’s unclear if he will be signing anything this week or if he’ll just enroll on campus in January and join the team in spring camp.

Prediction: West Virginia
Confidence: 90%

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Preferred Walkons

In addition to those signing a National Letter of Intent to receive a scholarship, there are a handful of other recruits that will be joining the 2019 signing class as a preferred walkon. These players most likely won’t be included in all the fanfare on Wednesday and will only be mentioned in a press release when they join the team in the spring or summer. but there are a few interesting names that you should keep an eye on until then.

Logan Holgorsen (6’0”/185) QB | University H.S. (Morgantown, WV) | ★★★

Logan very well may end up on the Mountaineer roster when the spring semester begins in January. He was previously committed to North Texas and then Bowling Green, and held offers from Toledo and Eastern Kentucky.

With West Virginia not currently having a quarterback as part of the 2019 class, it’s very possible that we see Logan come in as a preferred walkon. The Mountaineers will then look to the transfer market in the spring and summer to find another QB with 2-3 years of eligibility remaining to fill out the quarterback room.

Jayvon Thrift (5’10”/170) S | Norwin H.S. (Irwin, PA) | ★★★

Jayvon is another interesting case. The WPIAL standout committed to Youngstown State in October - after reporting offers from Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Indiana, Temple, Toledo and Buffalo - but announced he would be decommitting from the Penguins this past Sunday via his Twitter account. Thrift has allegedly told those close to him that he’ll be joining the West Virginia signing class as a preferred walkon instead.


Owen Chafin (5’8”/170) RB | Spring Valley H.S. (Huntington, WV) | ★★★

Chafin announced his commitment to the Mountaineers as a preferred walkon back in November, and will be making his commitment official in a signing day ceremony at Spring Valley on Wednesday.

That’s three legitimate three-star recruits that could fall into West Virginia’s lap at no cost to the Mountaineers, which is huge when you’re only allowed 25 scholarships per signing class. There is a chance all three end up on scholarship at some point in their time in Morgantown, as they will have every opportunity to make the most out of their decision to pass up a scholarship at a lower-level program to play for the Mountaineers.

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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.