The Trade-off Between An Exciting Signing Day and Security
I think having our signing class locked up in advance makes the Early Signing Period in December and National Signing Day in February kinda boring. We look around social media and see the circus that’s going on with recruits holding signing day ceremonies and announcing their school of choice by picking a hat up off a table, and remember back to the days where that was the normal thing for the West Virginia Mountaineers. It seems fun, right?
In all reality, while it’s a spectacle, those types of signing days are not fun at all, especially for the coaching staff. If you haven’t noticed, Dana Holgorsen and company don’t really put up with the games. Does that hurt our chances with guys that want to be a part of the spectacle? Possibly, but historically those type of guys have never really panned out for us. There were some instances where we thought we were in a good position to sign a kid, but then he flipped on us on signing day.
There’s been a shift in how the West Virginia coaching staff approaches recruiting, and I think you can pinpoint the 2017 recruiting cycle as the motivation behind it. Four-star wide receiver Michael Harley tried to play both sides with the West Virginia and the Miami Hurricanes, ultimately flipping to Miami on signing day, and the Mountaineer staff were not happy about it. The staff now likes to have everyone on board by the weekend before the Early Signing Period so they’re not blindsided at the last second and left scrambling to find a replacement.
This Class Is Fine.
While it’s not chock full of four and five-star athletes, I believe the class is solid and fills many positions of need for the Mountaineers.
I’ve seen a lot of people on social media complaining about this signing class, citing their current No. 50 ranking, according to 247Sports. I think that’s a bit of an overreaction from our fans that don’t fully understand how the recruiting rankings are calculated.
For example, transfers and preferred walkons are not calculated into the ranking. If we go back and add in VanDarius Cowan (+26.28), Jayvon Thrift (+4.07), Owen Chafin (+1.87) and Leighton Bechdel (+1.06), you’ve got an overall class score of 211.32 - an improvement over their current 179.24. With those players added into the mix, West Virginia’s class suddenly jumps to No. 29, above the Virginia Tech Hokies, and is a much better reflection on what the class actually is.
If we want to talk hypothetically, we can add in Isheem Young (+16.43) and Logan Holgorsen (+1.86) - both of whom are expected to join the Mountaineers in January - and we’re at 229.61, which bumps the class up to No. 24 in the current rankings.
With that said...
It’s Time To Accept Who We Are
I think this is the biggest thing for Mountaineer fans to have to get past. There’s a significant lack of perspective among the fanbase, and I’m not sure why it exists.
West Virginia has only ever had one recruiting class ranked inside the top 25 in the entire history of the program. A head coaching change isn’t going to fix that.
We are never going to be able to compete with the blue bloods. We’re never going to be able to pull in the number of four and five-star players to put us in the Top 15 in the rankings. We’re at a natural disadvantage because of location, and we don’t have the big money donors to help us boost our facilities to make up for it. We’re going to have years where we have a couple four-star guys and perhaps even a five-star recruit every five or six years.
This isn’t accepting mediocrity, it’s accepting who we are.
West Virginia is doing what they can working the transfer market to shore up these recruiting classes, and bringing in some of those four-star guys that never get going at their blue blood school has proved to be valuable.
After today’s signings, West Virginia has seven available scholarships remaining. One of those will be taken up by Isheem Young when he enrolls in January. So what do the Mountaineers do with the other six?
For starters, we look at the transfer quarterback market heading into this spring. As I’ve said numerous times this week, all signs are pointing to Logan Holgorsen enrolling in January as a preferred walkon. If the Mountaineers can snag another quarterback with 2-3 years of eligibility left to round out the quarterback room, we’re in a good place.
Next, look for a transfer wide receiver. I thought we were going to have that in Auburn transfer Nate Craig-Myers, but he ended up signing with the Colorado State Rams today instead. West Virginia wanted a receiver that can come in and play immediately, and it sounds like Craig-Myers wasn’t able to guarantee he’ll be eligible in 2019. Someone will be available. According to Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, there’s over 1,200 transfers registered in the NCAA transfer tracking system. Surely there is at least one receiver among them that can come in next season to give the Mountaineers another weapon.
With the remaining four, I think we should see who’s available. If there’s someone that wants to come to Morgantown and they’re too good to pass up, use a scholarship on them. If not, we can pocket those scholarships and count some of next year’s signing class back on this one.