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West Virginia’s New Recruiting Plan - Diamonds In the Rough

Neal Brown has two classes under his belt and he is showing a true genius - finding players before they become big.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

As the West Virginia Mountaineers continue to garner 2021 commits to their recruiting class, a definitive plan is coming into focus. Neal Brown, Travis Trickett and the other coaches have shown that they are implementing a two-fold system: identify players before the other schools take notice (and the recruiting services give them a noticeable bump in their rankings) and get in early. In implementing their system and perfecting their recruiting pitch, the Mountaineers are pulling in a class that has the chance to be one of the highest ranked classes in school history and the average rating of the players could be the highest ever.

According to Chris Anderson at, three current commits have seen their rating in the 247 system increase. Brayden Dudley, who was previously unranked, gets an initial ranking of 85 (0.8506). Tomas Rimac jumps from 86 to 89, now on the cusp of a four-star offensive tackle ranking. Andrew Wilson-Lamp saw his ranking increase from 87 to 90, making him the Mountaineers second 4-star receiver of the class.

If this were a one-time thing, you could write it off as a lucky twist of fate, but this isn’t a one time thing. The Mountaineers last year had several players who increased their rankings over the course of the season and it helped the Mountaineers land the #4 class in the Big 12. The approach by the coaches shows a thoughtful approach for a team that wants to make a splash but often lacks the talent to make more than a ripple in the pond of college football.

The elite five-star transformational players are rarely going to choose the Mountaineers. It is a fact that has been borne out of years of near-misses and never taking the next step. Knowing you will have a hard time with the true elites, the coaches have focused on players who are going to garner a lot of attention but currently are flying “under-the-radar” from the big schools. In recruiting, being first can be the difference.

Current Class

The current recruiting class has the potential to be better than any class as far back as the 247 rankings go. West Virginia has only pulled in two classes which ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the cycle and one technically doesn’t count as the system counted Geno Smith twice. Even then, those classes had an average player ranking of 0.84 and 0.86. The current class has an average player ranking of 0.87.

This is important on several fronts. First, teams with an average player ranking of 87 had classes that finished in the Top 20. Second, if the coaches can continue to pull in players around this ranking, you have the ability to increase the entire talent on the team.

The impressive part of this class is that while Wyatt Milum helps the overall ranking, he isn’t so far ahead that he is makes up a majority of the class. The Mountaineers have five players who have rankings higher than the team average. If Brown and coaches can continue to pull in these types of players, watch out Big 12.