Filling needs quickly
That's the main reason Kansas brought in 19 junior college players for this season. Coach Charlie Weis arrived in December 2011 and had 29 players leave the team before the start of the 2012 season.
He had a young roster without much experience, depth or talent and that turned into a 1-11 disaster.
"In recruiting, I think it's imperative to understand that when you bring in a high school kid, there's a good portion of them that need at least a year to go ahead and develop - at least a year. Sometimes it's more than a year," he said. "There's a handful of guys that are ready to play when they walk in the door, but that's the exception, not the norm. I needed guys that could play now because, if not, I'm going to be ranked tenth in the league every year."
Weis wants to go in the other direction quickly and build with high school players and fill needs with junior college players. WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen had to do a little of each.
He signed large recruiting classes with almost only high school players in 2011 and 2012, but will sign smaller classes the next two years. Junior college players helped fill out numbers and keep things even, but mostly addressed the problems of youth and inexperience he could have dealt with in 2013 and beyond.
When preseason practice starts Aug. 1, junior college players will pursue starting spots at center, running back, both outside receiver positions, inside receiver, defensive end, outside linebacker and punter.
Mistakes will be made
Every one of them is bound to make mistakes. Barnett's heaving introduction to college football was followed by a rocky stretch in his second game. He was called for three personal fouls in a loss to Arizona. His coach, Mike Gundy, didn't yank Barnett from the game.
"Coach Gundy told me he didn't pull me out because he knew I was smart enough to learn from it," Barnett said. "I didn't change one thing that I did then to what I do now."
WVU's stated goal is to recruit a junior college player who can either start or back up in the first year - and obviously one is better than the other. They have shorter eligibility clocks and there isn't much time to wait for them to develop. Sometimes that means to not only assume that they're ready, but that they'll also improve every game.
There's a trust involved, whether that means believing Verrett won't quit and will get better or that Barnett will figure out how far he can go before an official has to throw a flag. Kansas has one of the league's expected marquee transfers in Cassius Sendish, a defensive back veteran defensive coordinator Dave Campo likes so much that already that he's decided to move Sendish around at safety and cornerback.
"Everyone was there with open arms for me," said Sendish, who enrolled in January. "That's the main thing I credit with me coming in and making an impact. Everyone was willing to accept me and I was able to come in and blossom as time went on."
Wildcats lead the way
Kansas State is as good as anyone at junior college recruiting. And in some years it's as good as anyone because of junior college recruiting. Last year, six starters and four backups on defense and two starters and one backup on offense were junior college transfers for the conference champion.
Since the Big 12 formed in 1996, nine junior college transfers won a newcomer of the year award on offense or defense for the Wildcats, 27 players made an all-conference team and 32 went on to play professionally. Hardly any of the 24 players signed the past three years were highly ranked among junior college prospects.
The Wildcats are fortunate Kansas has some of the most organized and most successful programs in the nation inside the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, but they also know what they're doing.
"It can be hard because at first you don't know a lot of people and you might not get along with some people, but at Kansas State, we say we're a family and it's true," said junior Tyler Lockett, who never went to junior college, but has seen how his teammates have absorbed junior college transfers. "Everyone on our football team is pretty much cool with each other. We always go hang out after football practice.
"So we're able to bring them in and talk to them like we've been talking to them since childhood years and I think that kind of helps them calm down and focus a little bit more and say, 'I thought this was going to be hard.'"
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.