IT'S A GLORIOUS day in America.The election is over. Freedom rings. Freedom, that is, from exposure to political advertisements.Still, there's one issue lingering in the Mountain State. And West Virginia University fans continue to vote on that.It has to do with that Mountaineer football team. Specifically, what the dickens is wrong with it?
Almost all with a computer or microphone have chimed in. Every fan seems to have an opinion.Some vote that head coach Dana Holgorsen might be too inexperienced or ill-equipped to handle the job. Others cast their vote for defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. Or there's young, ex-staffer for Sen. Joseph Lieberman and cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts.A new target has been quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital. Geno Smith has obviously regressed and many are wondering if Spavital has the knowledge to right him. Before hitting Morgantown, Spavital was but a graduate assistant. Was he given the keys to the Jag and did he run it into the ditch?Some, most nationally, are voting for the bump in competition. WVU, many believe, has simply been a program able to get up for one big game in the past. It's now a Big East team trying to handle Big 12 rigors.There are rumors of friction in Morgantown. There are always rumors of friction in such a downturn.However, many are voting for a more simplistic mandate: WVU doesn't have enough quality athletes. The Mountaineers, you might know, have a starting safety in Cecil Level who signed with and played for WVU Tech. The Golden Bears, you might remember, were so bad the program doesn't even exist anymore.Of course, ex-WVU coach Don Nehlen fared well with three-star recruits. Ex-Mountaineer coach Rich Rodriguez flourished with them.
Let's, however, go back four years and take a look at the WVU recruiting classes.2009 - At first glance, this was a fine year. Smith and buddy Stedman Bailey were signed from Miramar (Fla.) High. Ditto receiver Tavon Austin, a five-star signee, according to recruiting service Scout.According to the aforementioned service, WVU actually had the one five-star and six other four-star signees. But only Smith and Austin panned out. (Bailey was a three-star guy.)Remember Tevita Finau? (I know... how can you forget?) Somehow he couldn't qualify at WVU, but did play for Utah and flirted with the NFL. The other four-star players to disappear: Dominik Davenport, Deon Long (twice), Chris Snook and Logan Heastie.
From that year, 13 signed are currently not on the West Virginia roster. (One was junior college transfer Terrance Moore.) Thirteen players signed are still on the roster. Just five - Smith, Austin, Will Clarke, Pat Miller and Terence Garvin - are currently listed as starters. (Make that six if you include Bailey, who, oddly, is not listed as a starter for the Oklahoma State game.)
Seven more, however, are on WVU's current depth chart. (Six if you count Bailey as a starter.) Only Taige Redman remains on the team and not on the depth chart.2010 - WVU was still pulling in four- and five-star recruits this year. You might be able to guess the name of the five-star guy. He happened to be a first-round NFL draft pick and now plays for Seattle: Bruce Irvin.The four-star recruits included Quinton Spain, now WVU's left tackle, and Ivan McCartney, listed as the "X" receiver starter ahead of Bailey for the Oklahoma State game, as well as Long again. The other was Jeremy Johnson, a quarterback long gone. (Barry Brunetti and Benji Kemoeatu, popular names also long gone, were listed as three-star guys.)Starters? If you subtract Irvin, there are just the three from the class. Two, if you discount McCartney. The other is new cornerback starter Ishmael Banks. In sum, ouch.There are just 10 signees remaining on the current roster. Just five are on the new depth chart. The others are Doug Rigg and Wes Tonkery.
2011 - This was Holgorsen's first foray. There were no recruits rated above three stars by Scout, although some, like departed Vance Roberts, earned higher marks elsewhere.Four have already become starters: back Andrew Buie, linebackers Isaiah Bruce and Josh Francis and nose tackle Shaq Rowell. Devon Brown was a one-year transfer from Wake Forest.Eleven are on the current depth chart, including Alum Creek's Cody Clay. Only 17, however, remain on the team.2012 - As WVU fans know, Holgorsen hasn't been shy about using true freshmen. Three - free safety Karl Joseph, inside receiver Jordan Thompson and long snapper John DePalma - are currently listed as starters.Six more - nose tackle Christian Brown, receiver Travares Copeland, safety K.J. Dillon, defensive tackle Korey Harris, cornerback Nana Kyeremeh and receiver Devonte Robinson - appear on the current depth chart.The class, though, took a hit when running backs Roshard Burney and Torry Clayton from Florida didn't make the cut. Four-star recruits Sam Lebbie and Deontay McManus had to head for the Atlanta Sports Academy. The highest rated player left was four-star offensive lineman Tyler Orlosky, who remains, but not on the depth chart.Of those signed (some late, like Ricky Rumph), 24 remain.So you can see that while WVU had recruiting success three and four years ago, most of that success boiled away. And while it's still early to judge the last two classes, only Joseph, Bruce and, to some degree, Buie and Dustin Garrison, have made significant impacts.Take your time considering it, though.This voting booth never closes.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.