WVU football: Day brings craziness, excitement to schools
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The truth will not be present in great abundance Wednesday when West Virginia unveils its 2012 football recruiting class.
There will be at least 25 and perhaps more than 30 names announced, and the one indisputable part of National Signing Day for WVU will be that Coach Dana Holgorsen and his crew had to do a lot of work during an eventful year - and likely right up to the last minute - to assemble what it will present.
Players are prone to change their minds or have their minds changed in the 11th hour and that could add or subtract from the size of the WVU class. No one knows. Not with teenagers who are still trying to figure out who to take to the prom. There are too many whims and too much whimsy.
You do remember Ki'Lial Glaud, right? He's a linebacker from New Jersey and a kid who flipped a coin on signing day in 2009 and opted for Rutgers instead of WVU. The Mountaineers scurried and pulled Keyser's Taige Redman from Ohio University's list.
Players want to surprise observers. Schools want to steal from others.
The whole thing is crazy, and on a certain level, pretty entertaining, right up until the final fax slides out of the machine and the class is complete. Even that is relative. Some who sign won't make it to campus.
A couple more will arrive and participate, but move on from the Mountaineers and play out their eligibility elsewhere.
You need time and schools deserve that time before anyone can form a firm opinion about a recruiting class. Drag your mouse to the recruiting website you trust most and you'll find the Mountaineers aren't far from a top-30 class. Do with that what you want.
Remember, though, how you felt about some of Bill Stewart's work as the WVU coach. He had small classes and spun it like he was strategically undersigning, when, in reality, he just couldn't get the kids he wanted and wasn't going to sacrifice quality for quantity.
In 2010, he constantly talked up his "two ranked classes in the top 25" and how that had never happened in WVU history, when, in reality, it hadn't even happened when he was flaunting it.
Out of the Scout.com,
Rivals.com and ESPN rankings, only Scout had WVU in a top 25 on signing day - and that was No. 22 in 2009.
The Mountaineers weren't in the Scout top 25 in 2008 or 2010 or in the Rivals or ESPN top 25 in 2008-10.
Yet look back, especially at Stewart's 2009 and 2010 classes, and he and his staff actually did better than people probably predicted. In 2009, WVU signed Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Geno Smith, the core of one of the nation's best passing attacks.
Running back Shawne Alston scored 12 touchdowns this past season. Pat Eger started at right tackle. Pat Miller and Brodrick Jenkins started interchangeably at cornerback and should be the starters next season. Darwin Cook was the second-leading tackler, even if you don't count the hit on Obie in the Orange Bowl, and fellow safety Terence Garvin is perhaps the defense's best player.
And then there's Will Clarke, who puts the best spin on the signing day frenzy. He's become a very good defensive end, but he didn't sign until nearly two months after signing day.
Were there misses? Absolutely. Ten players didn't make a mark on WVU and another would have had he not started robbing people, but there are still 10 starters from that class. You'd take a group with 10 starters Wednesday.
A year later? WVU landed defensive end Bruce Irvin, offensive lineman Quinton Spain, receiver Ivan McCartney, safeties Travis Bell and Wes Tonkery, cornerbacks Avery Williams and Ishmael Banks and linebackers Jewone Snow and Doug Rigg.
Not quite as good and more misses with another 10 who are already gone or never made it, but Irvin's time and work are done - and done remarkably well - and time will tell with the other eight, who are all in position to be "players" next season.
Don't discount them. The fourth- and fifth-year senior classes that played in the Orange Bowl didn't have one four-star recruit. Think Julian Miller and Don Barclay might get a fourth star today?
This is all about time and you almost have to revere those 2009 and 2010 classes differently now than you might have then, which is a call for patience and practicality Wednesday.
There are two major issues clouding recruiting and what you'll likely hear and later accept is that the conference affiliation and the coaching staff issues were non-factors.
What conference WVU plays in next season just doesn't matter to kids. Many don't care and a few don't even know it's in the courts right now. They're all going to play in the Big 12. Sure, some want to play close to home, but Mountaineer Field isn't moving.
Now, there is something to be said about losing Jeff Casteel, Bill Kirelawich and David Lockwood to Arizona.
Recruiting is about relationships and those three coaches had ties to some players committed to WVU and a few will stray, but the Mountaineers have no interest in a player who is committed to a coach and not the school.
Along those lines, WVU isn't concerned about two new defensive coaches and one vacancy. It's a relationship business and the two new names, co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest and assistant Mike Smith, got involved late. The remaining coaches took over with the prospects the departing coaches knew.
There really isn't much DeForest can do except maybe pull some of his players to WVU, and the expectations are low there because DeForest's old school, Oklahoma State, is in a pretty good place.
Eventually, Holgorsen will complete his staff, but no one is declining a WVU offer because there's a vacancy.
In truth, it's best to judge the staff next year and to wait even longer to evaluate what happens Wednesday.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.