WVU football: Team could open year with full set of recruits
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia begins preseason camp in 13 days and could have every one of the 25 possible recruits on the field.
Ryan Dorchester, the team's coordinator of recruiting operations, said this week receiver Mario Alford, linebacker Brandon Golson, linebacker/defensive lineman Darrien Howard, defensive end Dontrill Hyman and safety Isaac McDonald are expected to be on campus in time for the start of practice Aug. 1
If all five make it, then 25 of the 26 recruits WVU signed as part of the 2013 class will be in attendance. The exception is quarterback Chavas Rawlins, who enrolled in January, participated in spring football and then decided to transfer. If the final five players satisfy the NCAA's eligibility center requirements and are ready to go in time, then the Mountaineers would have done something extremely rare these days and put every one of their recruits from the recruiting class on campus.
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ALFORD AND GOLSON were teammates at Georgia Military College and Hyman was a junior college All-American. They're three of the nine junior college players WVU signed this year, a move that addressed needs at running back, receiver, offensive line, linebacker, defensive line and even punter.
Dorchester said the number in the future "might never" be that high again, but that the Mountaineers won't shy away from the tactic.
"I think it's something we established as something we can do if we make it a priority and it's something we made a priority last year and something we had success with," Dorchester said. "It's something we can continue to do, but I hope we don't have to take nine kids again. That's always kind of nerve-racking."
Dorchester believes that, because junior college players have played one or two seasons against college-aged players, they are more physically prepared to play right away and make a mark at a position where WVU needs help.
"You can make up for a lot of talent differential," he said.
WVU has hopes that Stone Underwood at center, Dreamius Smith at running back, Alford, Ronald Carswell and Kevin White at receiver, Golson, Hyman and d'Vante Henry as pass rushers and Nick O'Toole at punter can be starters or, at worst, key contributors in 2013.
It's possible Mark Glowinski, a junior college transfer who redshirted last season, will be the team's starting right guard.
"A lot of times a junior college kid is a risk-reward thing," Dorchester said. "We're not going to take junior college guys at a position we deem to be a strength. You take a junior college guy you expect to be a guy who's going to be a factor that season or at worst the following season."
"Mark Glowinski redshirted last season, which is fine because we didn't necessarily need him to be a contributor last season. It's a different story now and it's time for him to step up this season. We need guys to play. If you're not a starter, at least be part of the two-deep."
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SATURDAY IS the first day of a busy recruiting week as the Mountaineers play host to a swarm of recruits across seven days, capped by the popular day camp July 27 that will have all six players currently committed to the 2014 class and one of the two committed to the 2015 class.
The most notable visitor, though, figures to be on campus July 22. Former Pitt running back Rushel Shell said on his Twitter page two weeks ago that he'll be visiting that day. He's considering WVU and Kentucky after rushing for 641 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. Shell first wanted to transfer to UCLA, but changed his mind and tried to return to Pitt, but was denied.
Shell plans to visit Kentucky and has said he'll make a decision after he makes both visits. He'll sit out the upcoming season.
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PRIOR TO Tuesday, WVU's only member of a preseason watch list was something of a surprise. Charles Sims, a running back transfer who is eligible for his senior season in 2013 after graduating early from the University of Houston, was nominated for the national player of the year award when he was named to the Maxwell Award watch list last week.
There was another surprise Tuesday when Jordan Thompson was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list for the nation's top receiver. Thompson caught 13 passes for 85 yards as a freshman last season. He slumped late in the schedule with one catch in the final seven games and was subjected to unique treatment from the coaching staff in spring football.
Thompson wasn't allowed to speak to the media in the spring and was routinely critiqued by Coach Dana Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. Thompson impressed in the spring game for a second straight season with six receptions for 123 yards and three touchdowns. The performance was not accepted as a turning point, though, and Holgorsen pointed out Thompson caught eight passes for 66 yards and a score in the 2012 game.
"He will go down in the history books as the greatest spring-game player of all-time," Holgorsen said afterward. "Until he plays like that in a game, we're going to call it like it is. I haven't seen him play like that in a game yet. Until he does that in a game, we're not going to talk about it."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.