The West Virginia Mountaineers used the momentum created by their move to the Big 12 to sign the fourth-ranked class in the conference in 2013, a group that featured 28 pledges, seven of whom enrolled early to start their careers in Morgantown.
The 2014 class is off to a solid start on the offensive side of the ball with two pledges at the skill positions. Both prospects hail from the East Coast -- Maryland and Florida have represented the strongest areas for the 'Eers to recruit in nationally over the last few years, but the staff is trying to make a push into Texas to exploit exposure there, as well as the incredible number of high-level athletes the state produces on an annual basis.
To that end, Dana Hologorsen and his staff were only able to sign one player from the Lone Star State in 2013, but success in the traditional recruiting grounds for West Virginia will be just fine for the Mountaineer faithful if they can finish in the top third of the Big 12 again in 2014.
William Crest, Baltimore (Md.) Dunbar quarterback
6'3 | 190 pounds | *** | no. 21 pro-style quarterback nationally | no. 11 in state of Maryland
An mid-April pledge for the Mountaineer, Crest chose West Virginia over offers from Marshall, Maryland, Purdue, Rutgers, UTEP, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
Expected to be the leader of the recruiting class, Crest is a bit raw in some areas as a quarterback, especially in terms of his overall mechanics, which hurts his accuracy at times. However, he is a strong and well-built athlete with acceptable size for the position and the natural arm talent to develop in college if he can polish his raw skillset.
Like Geno Smith, he is athletic for his position, but doesn't run the ball as much as expected given his ability to improvise and make plays with his feet.
Davonte James, Springfield (Ohio) linebacker
6'3 | 220 pounds | *** | no. 21 inside linebacker nationally | no. 23 player in Ohio
A big piece for the Mountaineer recruiting class, James joined the class in early August after a late July visit over offers from Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Purdue. Ranked as a four-star prospect by 247Sports, James lacks ideal lateral movement and ability to play in space for a linebacker in the Big 12, so his best collegiate position may be as a pass-rushing specialist once he starts adding weight to a frame that has plenty of room to fill out. A pure downhill linebacker, James also needs some work on squaring up opponents as a tackler based on his limited senior film, but did a better job in that area as a junior.
Ricky Rogers, Monroeville (Penn.) Gateway wide receiver
6'3 | 192 pounds | *** | no. 46 wide receiver nationally | no. 10 player in the state of Pennsylvania
The first 2014 commit for West Virginia back in December of 2012, Rogers chose West Virginia over offers from Rutgers and Toledo. The wide receiver prospect has been a frequent visitor in Morgantown, tripping there twice before his commitment and taking four visits since -- based on all the times that he has been around the program, it's probably safe to consider him as solid of a commit as there is.
A prototypical outside receiver with ideal size, Rogers has the look of a borderline four-star prospect on film, showing the ball skills to high-point the football above smaller defensive backs and the speed to both get open deep and run away from opponents after long catches. His height and ball skills should help him become a strong redzone threat in college, as well.
Amanii Brown, Morgantown (WV) offensive guard
6'5 | 265 pounds | *** | no. 34 offensive guard | no. 1 player in the state of West Virgina
The state of West Virginia doesn't product many top prospects, a major reason why the 'Eers focus on Florida and the eastern seaboard, but keeping local product Brown in Morgantown became a priority for the staff and they were able to secure his commitment directly after becoming the only school to offer him. Based on his measurables and agility, Brown has the potential to play outside in college, but his mobility would also translate well to interior positions where his ability in space would allow him to be a strong option pulling and combo blocking at the second level.
Lamar Parker, Miami (Fla.) Washington wide receiver
5'8 | 152 pounds | *** | no. 80 wide receiver nationally | no. 87 player in state of Florida
A dynamic athlete with reported 4.44 speed in the 40, Parker's stock nationally has taken an obvious hit because of his small stature, but that didn't stop Holgorsen from recruiting Jordan Thompson in the 2012 class, a move that could pay off in 2013, and so the West Virginia head coach was willing to take a chance on the Miami product. In every other way -- speed, post-catch ability, and lateral movement -- Parker is a strong prospect, a major reason why 10 other programs were willing to take a similar risk on his significant upside, including Florida State, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M.
Josh Krok, Niles (Ohio) McKinley offensive tackle
6'8 | 300 pounds | *** | no. 44 offensive tackle nationally | no. 31 player in the state of Ohio
The massive tackle prospect is one of four intended takes along the offensive line for the Mountaineers in the 2014 cycle. A mid-June pledge amid the big summer surge for West Virginia, Krok chose to spend his college years in Morgantown after visiting Cincinnati and Louisville. He also held offers from a number of other programs, including rising SEC program Kentucky. With good natural upper-body strength, Krok can show some natural reactive body quickness in pass protection, but really shines as a run blocker, where he consistently gets movement whether combo blocking or single blocking. Already at a college-ready weight, the Ohio product could become a fixture at left tackle for West Virginia.
Jaylon Myers, Hutchinson CC (Kansas) cornerback
6'1 | 190 pounds | *** | no. 5 junior college cornerback nationally | no. 7 junior college player in Kansas
The Mountaineers won out for the services of Myers in late July, beating out Arizona, Cincinnati, Georgia, North Carolina State, and Oklahoma State, traditionally no easy task for West Virginia, especially an SEC school like the Bulldogs. Physical, long, and with better quickness than overall speed, Meyers unquestionably looks the part and is a willing enough tackler that he could easily transition to safety in college if he has trouble keeping up with faster wide receivers. His best position may be as the boundary corner, where his length would help in press coverage and he wouldn't be as likely to face a wide receiver who could easily win a foot race against him.
Jacob McCrary, Miami (Fla.) Coral Gables wide receiver
6'0 | 170 pounds | *** | no. 53 wide receiver nationally | no. 61 player in Florida
Though McCrary isn't the highest-rated prospect in the West Virginia class -- that honor belongs to Crest -- he was the most coveted, with offers from 32 programs, including Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and many others. Another prospect with strong skills after making the catch, it's clear that Holgorsen is actively targeting wide receivers who turn short passes into long gains and McCrary's 23.4-yard per catch average certainly suggests that he specializes in big plays in high school, regardless of where on the field he catches the ball.
Justin Scott, Woodland Hills (Cali.) Pierce College offensive tackle
6'6 | 290 pounds | *** | No. 15 offensive tackle in junior college | No. 18 junior college player in California
The fact that West Virginia will have openings at both tackle positions was likely a big draw for Scott, who committed in late July over offers from Cincinnati, Portland State, Washington State, and Wyoming. As a relatively undersized freshman at Pierce (270 pounds), Scott only gave up one sack on the season, in large part due to his ability to kick set quickly and then use his reactive body quickness to keep opponents from taking the edge. Especially impressive is his ability to pancake opponents in pass protection because of his upper-body strength. As a run blocker, Scott often pulled for Pierce and shows the ability to acquire defenders in space, with a similar knack for relieving them of their footing.
Jamie Herr, Elkton (Mary.) Eastern Christian offensive tackle
6'5 | 270 pounds | *** | No. 79 offensive tackle nationally | No. 29 player in Maryland
Another big recruiting win for West Virginia, Herr committed during the flurry of pledges in late July, turning down chances to play at Boston College, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida State, Hawai'i, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, and Tennessee. The first order of business for Herr when he gets to college will be adding mass to frame, as he currently doesn't have the mass to anchor in pass protection against powerful defensive ends with good bullrushes, but he does have good feet and excels protecting the quarterback. The biggest question for Herr as he transitions to the next level is whether he can become a plus player in the run game, as he doesn't show a lot of power with his leg drives or hands in that facet of the game.
Tyree Owens, Oviedo (Fla.) defensive end
6'3 | 235 pounds | *** | No. 42 strongside defensive end nationally | No. 149 player in Florida
Another prospect who joined the class in that late July flurry, Owens had named the Mountaineers and Yellow Jackets his leaders in May before ending his recruitment shortly days after a visit to Morgantown. He also held offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, Iowa State, Minnesota, North Carolina State, Virginia, Wake Forest, and Wisconsin, among others. An intriguing prospect because his upper body is still undeveloped, Owens could end up inside if he can eventually gain 40 pounds in college, though his ideal position would probably be as a 3-4 defensive end. Owens shows a good understanding of the game, maintaining contain against a running quarterback, flashing a swim move, impacting passing lanes, and playing with good pad level against the run. While not a superlative athlete, he does have a good first step for his size.
Walter Rauterkus, Avon (Ohio) offensive tackle
6'6 | 285 pounds | *** | No. 145 offensive tackle nationally | No. 97 player in Ohio
An underrecruited prospect who only reports an offer from Ohio, Rauterkus was yet another late July pledge to the Mountaineers. Rauterkus has an impressive frame with extremely wide shoulders, but the concern based on his 247Sports evaluations is that he's not a great athlete and doesn't possess much natural strength in his upper body or lower body, which suggests that he will be a long-term developmental project at West Virginia.
Edward Muldrow, Wesson (Miss.) Copiah-Lincoln CC linebacker
6'3 | 215 pounds | *** | No. 3 junior college outside linebacker | No. 16 junior college player in Mississippi
Not exactly a replacement for former commit Devante Averette, Muldrow was a significant target for the Mountaineers for some time and committed in late October. A member of the 2011 recruiting class out of high school, Muldrow spent a year at South Carolina before transferring to junior college and held offers from Arizona State, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee, and Utah State. At Contra Costa CC last year, Muldrow looks like he was exclusively used as an edge rusher from two-point stance and either didn't drop into coverage much or those plays didn't make his highlight reel. He does have a quick first step and can hit offensive tackles with an effective inside move, but he's undersized for the position at 2015 pounds and may need to diversify his skill set at West Virginia to contribute in anything more than the limited niche role he showed on 2012 film.
National Signing Day is still more than four months away. Verbal commitments are non-binding and change frequently.
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