2021 Mountaineers’ Recruiting Update
Head Coach Neal Brown set out last January to build the Mountaineers into a perennial contender. He and his staff continue to build a blue-collar mentality in the locker room. While that will no doubt translate to the product on the field, Brown and company must heavily focus on replenishing the lifeblood of the program: its players. Brown’s first full recruiting class saw the second-highest average recruit rating in the program’s modern recruiting era history. So far, Brown has put together a solid nucleus for his 2021 recruiting class. Here is our Mountaineers’ pre-season recruiting update.
Mountaineers’ Pre-Season Recruiting Update
The Mountaineers enter the season with a relatively young roster. Only 15 of their 75 current scholarship players enter their final year of eligibility. As a result, Brown can focus largely on building depth in areas of need and looking to future roster composition. Last season told us that the Mountaineers needed depth on the offensive line, at linebacker, and in the secondary. So far, the Mountaineers have done well at hitting two of those three areas.
The centerpiece of the Mountaineers’ 2021 class remains Wyatt Milum, for several reasons. Milum gives the Mountaineers their second blue-chip offensive linemen in as many years. He also hails from Spring Valley, a fertile recruiting ground from which West Virginia has traditionally had trouble recruiting. In addition, West Virginia claimed a talented (but underrated) lineman from Ohio in Tomas Rimac. Milum and Rimac represent two very solid building blocks for an offensive line that Coach Matt Moore seeks to rebuild quickly.
As for the secondary, the Mountaineers have added two pieces so far. Andrew Wilson-Lamp, initially recruited as a receiver, projects as a solid coverage corner with great ball skills. He also recently earned a rating bump at 247Sports and has a 4-star billing. In addition, the Mountaineers added Saint McLeod, a safety from Imhotep Institute in Philadelphia, was teammates with freshman standout Tykee Smith.
West Virginia has not added any “official” pieces at the linebacker position, but, given West Virginia’s hybrid defensive sets, it is entirely possible that undersized defensive ends and “tweener” safety recruits could convert to linebacker. Still, this position group remains a focus for the staff. The group, after all, represents a notable early gap in the Mountaineers’ recruiting efforts for 2021.
The 2021 Class
The Mountaineers hold commitments from the following players. We include their recruiting rate from each of the major three services. The 247Sports rating represents the service’s own rating (not their composite rating).
To date, the Mountaineers hold commitments from twelve players. They have a total of between 24 and 26 scholarships available for the 2021 class. However, this depends on how exactly they’re counting players from previous classes. Further, whether Edward Vesterinen, a late 2020 addition from Finland, will be counted toward the 2020 class or the 2021 class. That means, the Mountaineers have between twelve and fourteen open scholarships.
Pre-Season Recruiting Update: What’s Next
The Mountaineers have likely completed their recruiting efforts for quarterback, tight end, and the defensive line. Further, they could call it a year at running back, too, but their ongoing efforts suggest they intend to bring on one more running back.
After this season, they lose two seniors from their linebacker/bandit room. Also, six seniors from their safety/spear room. Given the lack of depth last season due to injury, the Mountaineers will need to focus a lot of effort at these two position groups. They could easily add three linebackers, four safeties, and another cornerback. Ideally, they would add a junior college or upper-class transfer at linebacker and safety, filling the rest out from the high school ranks. This would leave three to five scholarships split between running back, wide receiver, and offensive line. However, given Brown’s habits to date, we would look for them to leave two to three spots open for need-based additions in the Spring and Summer (through international players, late junior college additions, and transfers).
Furthermore, at running back, both Trenton Adkins (Virginia) and J.D. Martin (junior college) express ongoing interest. In the secondary, Tysheem Johnson (Pennsylvania) and Damond Harmon remain options. Isaiah Johnson (most recently of Bluefield in West Virginia) was a prior top target for the staff given his in-state ties. That said, according to various sources, Johnson’s interest in West Virginia never blossomed the way the staff hoped, and this marriage seems unlikely. At linebacker, players to watch include Mikai Gbayor and Jabril McNeill.
This season’s Mountaineers’ pre-season recruiting update certainly looks more favorable than last season’s. Brown and company have had time to develop the necessary relationships. The results translate well so far. As always, we will continue monitoring and providing updates through the end of the second signing period.