West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown said during his press conference that in-state recruiting would be a priority for the Mountaineers. If a talented player existed in the state, the school would do everything it could to make sure they came to West Virginia. Fans are now beginning to see a small bit of return on that talk as Neal Brown has convinced consensus five-star offensive lineman Darnell Wright to at least consider the Mountaineers.
Thought to be a lost cause only a month ago, Wright, a Huntington, WV native and the first five star player in the state, has warmed to the new staff since the turn of the new year. Wright has always been a strong Tennessee Volunteer lean, but just recently announced he would take an official visit to West Virginia.
Could Neal Brown, less than 5 weeks on the job, pull off the greatest coup in recruiting in nearly 15 years?
Tate Martell, the former #2 dual threat quarterback in the nation during his recruiting process in 2017, has announced he will be transferring from the Ohio State Buckeyes. Martell, who was thought to be in line with for the starting quarterback job following the departure of Dwayne Haskins, announced his departure after Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Justin Fields transferred to the Buckeyes.
Martell posted a picture to his Instagram account indicating that he was possibly visiting West Virginia on Sunday. West Virginia is down to Martell’s three choices for transfer, with Louisville and Miami being his other choices. Tate intends to visit all three and make a decision later this week or early next week.
During his recruiting process, Tate had an offer from West Virginia and initially listed them as a top 10 choice. The exciting thing about Martell is that he is reportedly close to finishing his degree. This would not be a situation where Martell is forced to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules but rather a graduate transfer situation, meaning Martell, if he can complete his degree by the summer, would be immediately eligible in 2019. He would have three years of eligibility remaining after redshirting in 2017 and playing in six games in 2018. Could the Mountaineers have found Will Grier’s replacement via a transfer?
The transfer portal is like one giant merry-go-round. As one player enters the portal and chooses a school, this causes the possible incumbent to then consider if he wants to transfer. One transfer or one decision could have multiple dominoe consequences as players jockey for starting position. Quarterback and only quarterback is a position where being the starter is imperative. If you aren’t the starter, your chances of showing your skills is almost negligible.
Take Austin Kendall for example. The Oklahoma Sooners quarterback has now backed up back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. You would be hard pressed to argue that Kendall should start over two players who just won the biggest away in college football, but now with the departure of the two players, Kendall was looking at finally getting his shot to show what he could do for the Sooners, until Jalen Hurts came along.
Jalen Hurts was lauded by many pundits for his decision to stay with the Alabama Crimson Tide when Nick Saban chose Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback. Hurts chose not to enter the transfer portal then and helped lead the Tide to a stunning come-from-behind victory over the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game that led to the Crimson Tide being the #1 overall seed in the college football playoffs. Now, having completed his degree at the University of Alabama, Hurts is looking for one last place to show he can play football. This is where the Oklahoma Sooners and Austin Kendall come into play. Sooner head coach Lincoln Riley has gushed over Hurts and Hurts is reportedly considering the Sooners as his final college destination.
If Hurts chooses to transfer to the Sooners as a graduate transfer, Austin Kendall is expected to pursue a transfer to another school. Sources have indicated that Kendall will be visiting West Virginia before he makes his final decision. The Mountaineers make sense for Austin who hails from North Carolina. Kendall is also an eligible graduate transfer and would be available in 2019.