MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia signed nine junior college transfers as part of the 2013 recruiting class. That wasn't even half of the haul at the University of Kansas.
WVU's nine transfers have been mostly significant parts of the team. Kansas has had mixed results with its 19 players. They share the field Saturday when Kansas (2-7, 0-6 Big 12) plays host to the Mountaineers (4-5, 2-5) at noon from Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised on Root Sports.
"The only team that probably attacked junior colleges more than we did was probably Kansas," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "As far as we're concerned, we did it for a reason and it worked out."
WVU starts junior college transfers Mario Alford and Kevin White at outside receiver. At different parts of the season, they've been the most reliable receivers and best threats down the field. White is third on the team with 30 receptions and leads the Mountaineers with 471 yards, 52.3 per game and three touchdowns.
Alford arrived just before preseason practice started in August, whereas White enrolled in January and was with the team for spring practice. Alford has 16 receptions for 261 yards and a 72-yard touchdown last week against Texas.
"That made me smile, maybe for the first time all year, when he took a routine play and made a big play out of it," Holgorsen said. "He's getting comfortable out there."
Alford, who was hurt during camp in August, is just settling in at outside receiver. He was used primarily as a running back at Georgia Military College and began as an inside receiver at WVU.
"I'm kicking myself in the tail for not doing it earlier," Holgorsen said. "When we recruited him we thought that he was like a Tavon Austin kind of guy. He played a lot of running back and they moved him around. But looking back at it, Tavon was a junior when I got here and he was there in the spring. I'm not comparing him to Tavon, which would be ridiculous. But we had Tavon all spring and his junior year wasn't that great. He only had, I think, two receiving touchdowns until the Orange Bowl.
"He got more comfortable and better with the system. It's harder to play inside than outside. We finally got smart and moved (Alford) outside. He got real comfortable and has been getting better every week. What he did on Saturday was good to see, but he's been heading in that direction ever since we moved him there."
Smith is from Wichita, Kan., and committed to the Jayhawks before grades forced him to play two seasons at Butler (Kan.) Community College. He'll have several family members and friends in attendance Saturday. He's second on the team with 424 yards rushing and five touchdowns and he averages 4.5 yards per carry, that number helped greatly by his 75-yard touchdown run against Oklahoma.
"We've gotten better at it," he said. "That's why we work hard on it all every day in practice. The blocking, the catching, those are the things they stress hard. We lacked it at the beginning of the season. We've picked it up now and we're getting better at it."
Each will be back next season and Stone Underwood, who played center in junior college, will be able to play after redshirting this season.