When West Virginia head coach Neal Brown and his staff came into Morgantown recruiting was a priority but preserving the current roster and December commits was at the top of their list. Along the way, he brought in transfer quarterback Austin Kendall in from Oklahoma and is currently enrolled at WVU. Then, identified three players and they sent in their letter of intent on Wednesday. Neal Brown commented on all three signees and Austin Kendall during his signing day press conference.
Austin Kendall r-Jr (6-2, 219-lbs) Waxhaw, North Carolina
“I have a lot of trust in (redshirt junior quarterback) Jack Allison, and I like (redshirt freshman quarterback) Trey (Lowe III).” Stated Brown. “Trey is playing baseball, so his availability in the spring, depending on how baseball is going, could be limited, and we have to have more guys in that room. That’s college football. The game is played so fast in this league and you play so many plays, you better have at least three quarterbacks in that room that are capable of playing. So, that was probably need No. 1 is we needed to add a quarterback, and I thought we were very fortunate to get a guy in Austin, who I feel like has been really well-schooled. He played in a couple of different high-school programs, where the level of coaching is at a high level, he was with Lincoln (Riley) the last couple years, and I have a lot of respect for him and his ability to teach, he sat in a room with two Heisman Trophy winners, I think that’s important, he has a quick release, really strong arm, he can create plays with his feet – I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s a runner, but he’s a good enough athlete that he creates plays with his feet – and I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a great competition as we move into spring and fall camp.”
Defensive lineman Jordan Jefferson (6-4, 300-lbs) Navarre, Florida
“If you look at Jordan Jefferson, Jordan, J.J., is from Navarre, Florida – and so you know, geographically, Navarre is about two hours away from Troy. He’s a kid that we’ve really known since he was a freshman, end of his freshman year going into his sophomore year in high school.” Says Neal. “He’s a big, physical thing, and what I like about him, he has a calm demeanor. He’s never too high, he’s never too low. He has a great family; his dad, you’ll see him, his dad looks like he could be playing some (defensive) line for us right now, too, he’s a strong guy. But he has a great family, and he got better every year. If you look at his junior film, it’s really good. If you look at his senior year, you’ll understand why his recruiting really exploded like it did, especially in the last six weeks. So, we’ve had a long relationship, we’ve had him in camp, we’ve seen him multiple times live, our defensive line coach Jordan Lesley was his lead recruiter, and he’s a guy that has an opportunity to be a plus player on the defensive line in this league. And he’s versatile, he can play nose or the three technique.”
Defensive Back Tavian Mayo (5-11, 180-lbs) Leesburg, Georgia
“If you look at Tavian, or Tay, Mayo, he’s from Lee County, Georgia. At Troy, we had two Lee County guys on our team, two really good players from Lee County.” Said Brown. “Vic Koenning, our defensive coordinator, he recruited that school at Troy, and they’ve won back-to-back state championships, I’m pretty sure that’s correct. Dean Fabrizio is the head coach, and they play at a high level. We’ve known about Tay for a long time; I think he actually watched a couple games of ours at Troy when he came to watch his friends. So, we knew about him and the logo switch was very effective. He had a relationship with the previous staff, he actually had taken an official visit here, so he liked West Virginia. So, we were able to close that late and that was an important pickup for us. And if you look, we’re really junior, really, rising seniors now at that (cornerback) position. He’s athletic, he can run, he’s going to have an opportunity to come in and compete right away, and he has a chance to be a starter here for several years.”
Rashean Lynn Jr (6-5, 200-lbs) Cocoa, Florida
“Rashean is 6-4-plus, almost 6-5.” Says Brown. “He has a ton of skillset, and he has as much upside as anybody in this class. He played a lot of receiver and (defensive back) in high school, we’re going to start him off in the secondary as a safety. And as you all know, you can’t have too many (defensive backs) in the Big 12. He’s a guy that has length, and we can try as hard as we want to coach it, but you either have length or you don’t, and he’s big, and he’s long, and he has an opportunity to play that centerfield position on defense and really cover a lot of ground in the backend. So, we’re excited about him.”
All three signees are defensive players. Brown explained how they determined who they wanted to bring in.
“The way we started this, as you meet with your players and you watch a little bit of video – really, honestly, not a ton – I had some of our young coaches put together basically a highlight, lowlight tape on the guys that were currently on our team.” Said Brown. “So, we tried to get a vision on what some needs were. We signed a lot of receivers in the December signing date.”
“We’re in a little bit of an odd situation in our defensive backfield, where we only lost a couple but have a lot of guys that are going to be seniors. So, we felt like we needed to add some guys in the defensive secondary, and we did. And then defensive linemen are something you’ll always (need); you can’t have enough defensive linemen. I thought it was critical, too, and you all can do the math, we have three spots left open in this class.”
“I think the mistake that a lot of people make is when you take a job, when you make a transition and you’re trying to do your first recruiting class, you really reach, or you sign guys that you don’t know about. The recruiting process is so long now, it’s upward to two years. Part of that two-year process is there’s usually in-person evaluations where you see a kid practice, or you see a kid play, or even you have him in camp and you see him in live evaluations, and you get to know him on multiple campus visits.
“Well, you don’t have that opportunity when you take (a new job), especially in a different geographic region. So, we were careful; we do have three open spots. You guys are going to learn this about us: I’m always looking for ways to improve our roster. We have two signing days, but we’re always looking to improve our roster, and I think it’s important when you have some open spots where if something happens, you’re able to add a critical piece.”