New Staff, New/Old Recruiting Scene

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Anytime you have a new staff, you’ll inevitably have a change in recruiting tack and area. Of course, when you promote from within — like WVU did — the changes are usually minimized. With that said, there has already been a definite migration of where WVU is looking for football talent.

During the Rodriguez era, we saw a few different concentrations as far as recruiting strongholds went.

In the 2002 recruiting class, we dove head first into the South, with a curious, Todd Graham-lead emphasis on Texas. By 2004, we were still in the South, but had moved our state of curious emphasis to Louisiana. 2006 saw us completely abandon the South, with the exception — as always — of Florida. Basically, between 2001 and 2006, the only constants were western Pennsylvania and Florida.

But in 2007, that began to change. Or at least it changed for one year, since this would be Rodriguez’s last recruiting class.

Due to the magic of Google Maps, we can see exactly how our 2007 class was distributed:

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While it’s obvious that we concentrated on areas closer to West Virginia, one particular fact stands out: 6 prospects from the state of Ohio. Under Rodriguez, we had always recruited Ohio, but usually just a prospect or two. Unfortunately, with Ohio, there’s one overriding factor governing their instate talent: if given the chance, they choose Ohio State.

Essentially, we were picking up OSU’s scraps by recruiting Ohio. Very, very rarely will a prospect choose WVU over OSU. They are the clearly defined state program and will win just about every recruiting battle instate, regardless of the opponent school. While OSU will generally recruit better than WVU, settling for their scraps is not exactly the picture of a top 10 program.

Which brings us to the current class:

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Well, thankfully, the arguably misplaced emphasis on Ohio is gone. But, as we give up on Ohio, we surrender western Pennsylvania — to the tune of exactly 1 signing. Think about what happened between 2007 and 2008: we lost to Pitt. On the biggest stage of the regular season. Yet, we still won a BCS bowl game. Against Oklahoma. If the former staff couldn’t overcome a loss to Pitt in recruiting our biggest hotbed, why trust them to recruit anything else?

Seriously, while the loss to Pitt was cripling, they were still a team that was sitting at home for the holidays, a team that hasn’t won a bowl game since 2002. We’re a program that has won two BCS bowl games in the last three seasons. Just pitiful.

And that one recruit (Tyler Urban)? That was secured by HCBS, long after the Rodriguez dust had settled. He was even a former Maryland commit, so certainly no middling prospect. While we had some WPIAL verbals before the coaching fiasco, their leaving the class is an example of exactly how much faith they had in WVU. Not much.

Which brings us to an early look at 2009:

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Ah, a return to logic.

While this is very early — not to mention a list of offers, not commits — the maps shows WVU returning to it’s recruiting hotbeds: western Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. In the face of adversity, why not return to where the brand “West Virginia” resonates the loudest. Not to mention the fact that our assistant hires establish a strong presence in all these areas.

The one wrinkle? Tidewater, Virginia and Chris Beatty. From the names we’ve already offered, Beatty and WVU mean business in SE Virginia. And the comments from those recruits? They’re high on us, too. It’s also a close enough territory that WVU still makes sense in a high school kid’s mind.

The formula seems so simple: hire good recruiters with an emphasis on those who specialize in areas accustomed to WVU. I just wonder why someone else didn’t think of it between 2001 and 2007.

18 Responses

  1. I respectfully disagree. You can’t argue with Pat White, Chris Henry, Pacman Jones, Darius Reynaud, and Miquelle Henderson when it comes to Rodriguez’s “curious” recruitment of the deep south.

  2. You’re right, I can’t argue with those. But I can argue with J.T. Perry, Joe Hunter, Durrell Robinson, Brandon Douglas, Krys Williams, Taylor Ownbey, Joe Sykes, Milton Collins, Fernandez McDowell, Zac Napier, Brandon Tate, Matt Sinclair, Tyler Benoit, and Alphonso Gross.

    And that’s just 2002-2004.

    What I’m saying is that we’re simply not going to win a lot of recruiting battles in the deep South. We’ll get guys like Pat White when schools offer them at undesirable positions or Chris Henry when they fly under the radar, but we’re not going outrecruit SEC schools in their own backyard.

    Why not recruit areas that we can win recruiting battles and are still very fertile with talent?

  3. I don’t think talent was the problem with J.T. Perry. Just everything else.

    And how dare you slam Brandon “Mookie” Tate. That’s uncalled for.

  4. Charley, I follow your thinking but I’m not sure what the solution is. Almost everywhere we recruit we’re trying to pluck kids out of someone else’s backyard. The only exceptions might be W. PA, because Pitt sucks and we’re really close, and possibly MD and NJ, for the same reasons. And that’s exactly why it’s so difficult for WVU to be among college football’s elite.

  5. I agree totally with Country Roads. WVU starts with an inherent disadvantage when it comes to recruiting because of the lack of in-state talent. You’d be hard-pressed to find any consistently top-25 programs that have less talent that is most likely staying home. That said, I think you go where you have ties and it’s hard to argue with the results of the 2001-2006 recruiting classes.

  6. It comes down to one objective. Win a national title and they will come.

    We start with the disadvantage of not having much in-state talent and residing in a cold area of the country. But that doesn’t stop programs like Michigan and Nebraska (past tense) of recruiting talent all over the country. Even though those states don’t have a wealth of talent. But by winning national titles it has leaped them into recruiting juggernauts. It’s that simple!

    Different subject: We have to recruit to our system. Take the Oregon Ducks for example; they don’t have any in-state talent, but recruits to a system that attracts players. Even though they have Nike in their back pockets, they still can’t get over the California teams (recruiting) until they win a national title.

    Last subject: Win a national title and they will come! Our future will be placed on the shoulders of Pat White and Noel Devine in 2008!

    I’m obviously not trying to drop a wealth of knowledge.

  7. I hear Charley West’s sister is fertile talent.

  8. We need to win this rucruiting battle next year. I have my fingers crossed

    http://westvirginia.scout.com/a.z?s=159&p=8&c=1&nid=3333651

  9. I know she is fertile top of the line talent!! ZING

  10. Y’all do know my parents read this, right?

  11. you can delete that comment if you want.

  12. I am actually laughing out loud thinking about charlies parrents reading this thread of replies.

  13. I don’t really know but she is a very attractive young lady. I’m sorry

  14. I’m all hopped on Mountain Dew and delirious from the test I’m presently taking so please forgive me. I’m washing my mouth out with soap as we speak

    It was SOAP POISONING…

  15. wow, two movie quotes in one post.

  16. Juco’s from AZ are a great pipeline that we should see success with, Thanks coach Wolfley!

    WVU should box up all old equipment and send it to Somoa and Hawaii to gain support for our program. Honestly, those guys are players! They have sat tv, they can be WVU fans!

  17. I appologize too. “I don’t know what I’m saying.” – Maybe Bluth

  18. here’s another juco that signed his letter of intent today to play with the mounties. he didn’t get many offers but it says he’s a 5’10 200lb rb that runs a 4.41 40 yard dash.

    http://westvirginia.scout.com/a.z?s=159&p=8&c=1&nid=3520723

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