After Neal Brown’s first National Signing Day as the Mountaineers’ head coach, West Virginia’s 2019 recruiting class was rated at an average rank of 46 in the nation.
However, this class is extremely underrated and boasts a handful of key pieces that should make an impact sooner rather than later.
Defensively, this class is loaded. From the defensive line and linebackers to safeties and corners, the Mountaineers have a lot of different options to work with this fall. If WVU runs a 4-2-5 like they are expected to, the ‘Eers will have a lot of tools to swap around at each position.
On the line, there will be size and speed up front with a great mix of guys who can blast through the gaps and get to the quarterback, and guys who can clog up the run.
At linebacker, the talent is there to create pressure on the edges and help stop the run, while also having flexibility at the position to drop guys back in coverage.
The safeties and cornerbacks are very versatile in the fact that they can cover well in man and zone and are incredibly athletic. This safety core is a very versatile one that will fly around the field to make plays.
Here is a breakdown of how the signees look on film.
1. Jordan Jefferson, DL. Jefferson is an absolute animal up front. He is insanely quick to get off the ball and gets great leverage to get into the pocket. His ability to bust past a line in incredible.
2. Jalen Thornton, DL. Jalen is one of the fastest guys off the snap you’ll ever see. He breaks through the ‘B’ gap practically untouched and is incredibly fast and agile. He almost gives you a Von Miller like impression by the way he’s able to get into the backfield so quickly. He is going to very special.
3. Jared Bartlett, LB. Jared has length and great speed. He has a knack for reading a play and crashing down on the fall incredibly fast. Along with his great awareness, he is a sure-tackle and will bring a physical tone to the defense.
4. Rashean Lynn Jr, Safety. Lynn is a great open field player and he is the kind of guy you want having behind the defense. He is a very tall, long player who can read plays well, come up and stop a run dead in its tracks or save big plays from being dropped on the defense. Very good player to cover the middle of the field.
5. Osita Smith, Safety. An impeccable edge rusher that will wreak havoc on quarterbacks. He has a bit of a Bruce Irvin like feel in his ability to sneak into the backfield like a ghost. Along with that, Smith is a great run-stopper and will swallow up anything on his side of the field. He will be an insanely good player to blitz the edge with.
6. Tykee Smith, Safety: Tykee is a very impressive all-around safety. He has a great ability to come up and shut down runs early as well as being excellent in coverage and the open field. His best ability might be his speed and the way he can shut down plays before they can happen. He will be an excellent all-around athletic player.
7. Nicktroy Fortune, CB. Fortune is a smart, fast, athletic corner. He is going to make for an incredible asset because he reads quarterbacks like they are books. He will make them pay for the smallest of mistakes and has great hands to break up and pick off passes.
8. Tavian Mayo, CB. Mayo will be a great lockdown corner. He is very good at keeping his head on a swivel and will read plays very well. He is great in man coverage as well as in zone. With his great situational awareness and ability to cuff opposing wide-outs, he too can be very dangerous to any quarterback who makes a mistake.
9. Dreshun Miller, CB. Miller is a very athletic, quick, and intelligent back. The former LSU commit clearly is talented, but his awareness and ability to read the offense is almost like its another sense. However, his best quality may be his innate ability to clamp down on the receiver at the perfect moment to break up passes without being penalized. Miller is going to help save WVU from getting burnt on big plays. He is going to be an incredible assets to this defense.
Offensively this class is very athletic and fast. The only position that WVU wasn’t able to get a great player at was QB, however, we all know Austin Kendall was brought in to fill that void. The wideouts are very impressive and the backfield will be in good shape. This is a class with a lot of upsides who will get better year after year. Once they get playing time they will be a dangerous group to spread the field out as well as running it up the middle.
Here is how the offensive side of this class breaks down.
1. Donavan Beaver, OL. This kid is massive. For a man of his size, because he is a full-grown man, he is remarkably fast. He is going to be an incredible run-blocker who can create holes big enough to drive a truck through. He will swallow up defenders and absolutely punish them. He is going to be very, very good.
2. Parker Moorer, OL. He is very good at getting low on guys and standing them straight up and stopping them in their tracks. His best attribute may be his ability to open holes and quickly get downfield to help extend runs which will be incredibly important under Brown’s Offense.
3. Brandon Yates, OL. Brandon is a very powerful blocker who will stay on his guy to the whistle. He is going to be a key guy at keeping the pocket intact and extending time to take shots downfield. His game is also very impressive, he played like his life depends on it and is a tough impressive player. He will be a great kid to have on the line.
4. Tony Mathis, RB. This kid is going to be a great talent. He is a very patient runner and when a hole opens up he explodes through it and blows past the linebackers. Once he gets into the open field he can kick it up another gear. His most impressive ability is the way he keeps his head and eyes up and looking downfield, it’s almost as if he is one step ahead of the defense.
5. Terence Doston, WR. Doston is going to be a very sneaky guy who is an impressive receiver and return man. He has explosive speed and is a very athletic player. Another great thing about Doston is the way he can create separation downfield and is a very good route runner. He will be an explosive player.
6. Ali Jennings, WR. Ali has great speed right off the snap and is even more remarkable after the catch. he will blow past guys and make this miss in a very aggressive athletic manner. He has great awareness of where he is on the field and keeps his head on a swivel. He will be a great player to dump the ball to on short yardage throws and let him do his thing.
7. Winston Wright, WR. Wright will break ankles and make guys miss all over the field. He has one speed, and that is very, very fast. He can be utilized in a lot of different spots as he is a good return man and is elusive after the catch. If he makes a guy miss he will be dangerous because defenders have to take super wide angles to even try to track him down.
Lastly, on Special Teams the Mountaineers signed kicker Kolton McGhee. Kolton is a great kickoff guy who has a good leg. As far as field goal kicking goes he has great form and can kick some long balls. The best part of his game is his punting, he can pin you back very deep, something WVU is in desperate need of. He has a very high upside and will be a reliable player.
This class is super underrated and there are guys that will fly all over the field and make big plays offensively and defensively. This is going to be a special group and all Mountaineer fans should be incredibly excited to see what Brown can do with this group. Watch out for these guys in the fall and pay attention to their specialties, because each of them have their own incredible talent that makes them great ball players. The future of West Virginia football continues to be on the up.