Now that we are one-third of the way through the twelve-game season, we turn our attention briefly to the world of recruiting. The Mountaineers made most of their recruiting noise in July, just after our June update. As a result, we have a lot of new names to discuss in WVU’s September 2023 recruiting update.
WVU’s September 2023 Recruiting Update
Over the first several years of Head Coach Neal Brown‘s tenure, the West Virginia Mountaineers have landed a few blue-chip recruits in each cycle. This year, players who were initially blue-chip recruits have dropped in the rankings. As a result, West Virginia has just one 2024 high school recruit with a four-star designation from any service (Brandon Rehmann). Perhaps this is a natural result of the lack of on-field success or the lack of NFL draft entrants to date during Brown’s tenure.
We know our pointing this out will not come without controversy, of course. Every year, the recruiting services put out their lists of five-star, four-star, and three-star recruits. Every year, controversy follows. Some fans believe that recruiting rankings carry no weight. Others believe they carry all the weight in the world. As we discussed previously, the truth is somewhere in the middle. But it lies closer to those star ratings have consequences than not.
Who is on Board?
Before diving into the composition of the class, we list the current commitments to WVU’s 2024 Recruiting Class. As usual, we italicize the new names added since our last update. We then provide the state from which the player hails followed by the anticipated position for each player. Then, we provide the 247Sports Composite rating and the three major service’s individual ratings for the player. With the arrival of On3, we have removed ESPN’s ratings, as those ratings are generally the least reliable of the major providers.
|Richard James Jr.||NJ||DL||3||3||3||3|
|Jason Cross Jr.||PA||CB||3||3||3||3|
The class currently features 20 commitments. West Virginia currently ranks 45th in the 247Sports’ class rankings, 40th in Rivals’ team rankings, and 53rd in On3’s rankings. For the 2024 Big 12 teams, West Virginia ranks 6th per 247, 7th per On3, and 3rd per Rivals.
Breaking Down the Numbers
West Virginia currently has 85 players on scholarship. Including, three walk-ons earning scholarships late this Summer or early in the season. Just eleven of those players have senior eligibility, while we expect two or three more to declare for the NFL draft after this season. If West Virginia removes the scholarships awarded to walk-ons (which are typically re-assessed each season), they have a total of 15-18 open scholarships available for next season. As the cap remains at 85 scholarship players on the roster at any given time.
That said, West Virginia averages over 15 transfers per off-season, leaving West Virginia with between five to nine scholarships left to award a combination of high school recruits and incoming transfers. With numbers this close, we expect the Mountaineers may add just one or two more high school recruits in this cycle. Though they could safely go up to three or four. They would be wise to save the remainder for incoming transfers as they will need to replace experience in the secondary and offensive line this offseason.
Fitting the Pieces Together
Now, we look at how those pieces fit together to conclude WVU’s September 2023 recruiting update.
In this class, the Mountaineers take one quarterback, two running backs, and three wide receivers. They have just one offensive lineman and no tight ends. We anticipate they may stick with no tight ends considering the abundance they have on their roster and the emergence of Kole Taylor as a pass-catching weapon and Treylan Davis as a blocking specialist. That said, given the anticipated losses of Doug Nester and Zach Frazier, we do expect West Virginia to add one or two more offensive linemen, possibly with one more from high school and another from the transfer portal.
Defensively, West Virginia has a clear and pressing need in the secondary. They will be losing four of 15 scholarship players currently in the secondary. Given the pass defense issues West Virginia has faced for the third straight season, we look for them to replace with at least one or two bodies from the transfer portal, as they have in years past. So far, they have three high school recruits slotted into the secondary, with all three identified as likely cornerback prospects. This remains an area of need, of course. That said, there are no safeties on the current list. One or more of those cornerbacks could slide into safety, but we expect West Virginia will focus plenty of their transfer portal efforts on safety this offseason.
Finally, that leaves linebacker and defensive line. The Mountaineers currently have four linebacker commitments. One or more may flex over to spear or bandit, and that remains to be seen. On the defensive line, West Virginia has four commits currently. We don’t expect them to add anything here through high school recruits. Instead, they would likely focus their efforts on the transfer portal to replace any unexpected losses through the outbound lanes of the portal.