Busy week for recruits visiting Motown
FINDING HUMOR in dark moments helps one get through life.
And so it was I thought of WVU recruiting coordinator Ryan Dorchester. I recalled how frazzled Dorchester, just two years from earning his master's degree, seemed a few days before the last football signing day.
"We're crossing our fingers," Dorchester said at the time, "and dotting our I's."
A couple weeks before, I asked if the Mountaineer coaches might start their recruiting effort over following a blowout of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Dorchester said no. I asked why.
"Because," he said, "I'd have to check into a mental hospital."
And then there's the ongoing recruiting effort. In the wake of WVU's blowout loss at Texas Tech, I thought of Dorchester. The Mountaineers were riding high, a top-5 team, after a win at Texas. Recruits had to be impressed. And then came the WVU meltdown.
Has to be like a stockbroker after a market crash, right?
"No," Dorchester said on Thursday. "To be honest, the game-to-game stuff doesn't affect or sway a kid as much as you might think it would. I mean, you don't want to go lose to Tech like we did. One kid might let it affect him. But, on the whole, it won't make much of a difference."
It is, however, important how a team finishes. Dorchester pointed to the Orange Bowl victory. "No one remembered the Syracuse [loss]," he said.
WVU currently has 15 commitments for the 2013 class. Scout.com ranks the Mountaineer class No. 34 nationally. ("We're happy with where we're at," Dorchester said.) But it's a long way to the February signing date.
Anyway, about a month ago, I reported West Virginia has four committed running backs. The reason: the Mountaineers have but two returning scholarship backs - Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison - next season. Now, another running back recruit - Jojo Kemp, a three-star, 5-foot-10, 189-pound player from Deland, Fla., who has "softly" committed to South Florida - is reportedly visiting WVU this weekend.
Dorchester said about 50 recruits will hit Morgantown this Saturday, although not all on official visits. He can't comment on specific recruits. He did, however, comment on a specific question: Do position needs change as the season moves along?
"They can," he said. "They definitely can. You might think you're better off or worse off at positions when the season starts. It can be a fluid situation. You never know, for instance, about injuries or kids that become academically ineligible. Unfortunately, with [academic troubles], you don't know until January."
A notable absence on the commitment list, however, is at cornerback. The Mountaineers have freshmen playing in the secondary like corners Ricky Rumph and Nana Kyeremeh and safeties Karl Joseph and K.J. Dillon. But if ever a team needed secondary help, it's one ranked No. 118 in pass defense and No. 119 in pass efficiency defense. Keep in mind there are but 120 FBS schools.
"Any kid we recruit can't help us now," Dorchester said. "And we have some young kids we think will be good players. But, yes, it's a position we have [recruiting] plans for."
Among the DBs reported to be visiting Morgantown on Saturday is 6-3, 188-pound three-star defensive back Lamar Robbins of Miami (Fla.) Southridge High. Other schools offering him include Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Carolina, as well as Marshall.
Dorchester pointed out, however, that his charge is to simply find great athletes.
"In the Big 12, you find athletes and turn them into something," he said. "The last two corners drafted out of West Virginia were quarterbacks in high school - Keith Tandy and Brandon Hogan."
Among others set to visit Morgantown for the Kansas State game are Marquion Lane, a three-star 6-2, 175-pound wideout from Deland, Fla.; Rayfield Dixon, a two- and three-star 6-3, 196-pound linebacker-safety from Loxahatchee, Fla.; and Paul James, a three-star 6-4, 245-pound defensive end from Miami.
Lane, from Trinity Christian Academy, also has offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Boston College, Florida State, Miami, Michigan State and Nebraska, among others. Dixon, of Seminole Ridge High, also has offers from Minnesota, Purdue and Wake Forest. James, of Norland High, also has offers from Alabama, Illinois, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Marshall.
And finally . . .
Some college hoops to whet your appetite for the upcoming season.
On Thursday, I worked on my preseason Associated Press basketball poll vote, as well as nominations for the five-man preseason All-America team.
The USA Today/ESPN poll has already been released with a top 5 of Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State and John Beilein's Michigan. The AP poll will be released Oct. 26.
If interested, my top 5 is Louisville, North Carolina State, Indiana, Kansas and Michigan. (You can see the entire vote in the Gazette when the poll is released.) My All-America team votes went to Isaiah Canaan of Murray State, Cody Zeller of Indiana, Jeff Withey of Kansas, Doug McDermott of Creighton and Pierre Jackson of Baylor.
I also had a chance to touch base with WVU coach Bob Huggins, who was in Morgantown after returning from the Big 12 basketball media day. ("Deniz [Kilicli] was the star of the Big 12 media day," Huggins said with a chuckle. "They loved him out there.")
Huggins will unveil his entire team to the Mountain State tonight with the Gold-Blue Debut at Morgantown's Coliseum. It's a 7:30 p.m. free admission deal. There will be a 40-minute officiated game as well as much, well, hoopla.
The call to Huggins was placed, however, to ask about WVU's team health. The last time we spoke, the coach said a couple of his players were hampered with injury. Juwan Staten had minor knee surgery and Matt Humphrey had shoulder surgery.
"Staten is not full go yet," Huggins said on Thursday. "He's the only one, but he'll be able to do some things, like all the half-court stuff."
Curiosities to WVU fans have to include transfers Aaric Murray, Staten and Humphrey as well as the two freshmen, Terry Henderson and Eron Harris.
"The freshmen are playing really well," Huggins said. "They make shots. They're playing hard and with enthusiasm. I don't think they can guard a door with a shotgun, but they'll learn."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.