Another national signing day is in the books and although the day is over, there is still plenty of time for Neal Brown to put the finishing touches on this class.
The main theme of the Mountaineer fan base is the concern of this class’ recruiting rankings. I’m here to tell you, not to buy into it or put too much stock into it. The majority of these rankings are based off of offers and can be inaccurate when determining a team’s performance on the field. In the end, it all comes down to coaching and development.
Here’s three reasons as to why you should not worry about this class:
1. Numbers matter
Yes, Neal Brown was unable to reel in five-star Huntington offensive lineman Darnell Wright, but what is most impressive is that not one early signee backed out of their commitment. It is very rare for a new coaching staff to come in and not lose a single signee. Coach Brown actually pointed this out during his singing day press conference and noted that Kevin Sumlin at Arizona is the only other Power 5 coach to have achieved this feat.
Stars matter to a certain degree, but don’t get caught up in it. I understand this class doesn’t have the “star power” the grabs headlines, but it has the potential to have the star power where it counts. If you want to have a shot at winning a Big 12 crown, you must have depth. The Mountaineers added depth where it was needed most and that’s in the secondary. By snagging Tavian Mayo, Rashean Lynn and Tacorey Turner, Brown added able bodies to Vic Koenning’s defense. December signees Osita Smith, Tykee Smith and Nicktroy Fortune will also be key contributors in the near future.
2. Front Seven has “gems”
Although the scholarship will count towards the 2019 class, the transfer of Alabama linebacker VanDarius Cowan is not factored into these rankings. Cowan has great size at 6’4″ and 230-lbs and flies all over the field. He’s got every trait that you want in a linebacker. Another linebacker that I see as a major under-the-radar guy is Jared Bartlett (Suwanee, GA). He has a nose for the football and can get down hill fast to help clog up the run game.
As for the defensive line, JUCO defensive end and early-enrollee Taijh Alston is an intriguing prospect. He’s a very lean and long edge rusher that could develop into the teams best pass rusher since Shaq Riddick in 2014. Mountaineer legacy, Jalen Thornton is another “sneaky” good pickup. He won’t make his impact felt right away, but should be a consistent contributor the second half of his career. The biggest addition to the defensive line is one of the newest signees Jordan Jefferson. A 6’4″ and 300-lb interior lineman from Navarre, FL, Jefferson has explosive hands and can fight off blocks with ease which will help in run support.
3. Play-makers galore
It comes as no surprise that the Mountaineers have loaded up on a surplus of skill position players. What is surprising is the amount of talent that is coming in all one class. The lone running back in this class, Tony Mathis, is a true home-run hitter and brings a dynamic skill set to the offense. Co-offensive coordinator Chad Scott said that he believes he can be an every down guy because he can help the team in many ways.
Wide receivers Winston Wright Jr. and Terence Doston, are absolute burners. Putting these two on the field at the same time could cause a serious problem for opposing defenses to defend. Wright just makes plays. Get him the ball in space and sit back and watch him do his thing. Doston has a similar game, but creates separation very quickly, which could make him a weapon in the quick passing game.
Last, but not least, the recruit that has already captured the heart of the fan base, Ali Jennings. Jennings is just as good of a person off the field as he is on it. He has extremely good hands as we saw in the USA Football All-American game and can be a reliable target on critical downs.
At the end of the day, Neal Brown and his coaching staff did a tremendous job of piecing the final parts of this class together along with retaining the December signees. This class has a high ceiling. So throw out the stars, throw out the rankings, these guys have an opportunity to be something special.