In college recruiting, there are a lot of “periods” — dead periods, quiet periods, contact periods and signing periods. When it comes down to it, though, none may be more important than the evaluation period, which began last week.
The evaluation period runs from April 15 through May 31 and allows assistant coaches to visit high schools across the country and check on top prospects on two separate occasions — one to assess the player’s athletic ability, the other to check his academic qualifications. To further complicate matters, each school is only allowed to be on the road for roughly four of those six weeks, meaning decisions need to be made on whether to be the first school in and sacrifice time later, or start late and hope to be the last team on their mind before the long, quiet summer.
This evaluation period deals with a lot more than just judging prospects. For the most part, coaches are already well aware of the prospects’ abilities. These visits allow coaches to “show love” to recruits, letting them know they are wanted. That is extremely important for West Virginia, which already has 10 commitments, almost all of which are still being actively recruited by other schools.
Because of that, the likely first stops for Mountaineer coaches — particularly JaJuan Seider and Damon Cogdell — are in south Florida. Miami Norland wide receiver Jovon Durante, who was one of WVU’s first commits, visited Alabama for its spring game this past weekend. Reports out of Tuscaloosa on Saturday night said the four-star prospect had flipped his pledge to the Crimson Tide, but Durante was quick to refute those claims. Still, it’s obvious his commitment is far from the “95-percent solid” that he described it as just last week.
Just a couple hours down the road, fellow West Virginia commit Kendrell McFadden, a four-star safety, was visiting Auburn for the Tigers’ annual spring game. He did not flirt with a flip, but did say that he plans to officially visit The Plains this fall. He, too, will get a visit from the coaches this week.
The same can be said for the rest of the south Florida crew — none of which have had the opportunity to get to Morgantown, but are consistently recruited by schools closer to home. Miramar wide receiver Kahlil Lewis has visited nearby Miami several times, while defensive back commits Kevin Williams and Sheldrick Redwine have each received several new offers since their commitments to West Virginia.
Of course, it’s not all just about keeping commitments that are already on board, but securing new ones to keep the recruiting momentum going into the summer months. One position that fans should watch closely over the next few weeks is quarterback. In four of the last five recruiting years, the Mountaineers have secured a verbal commitment from a signal-caller during the evaluation period.
Why? Well, it is typically during this time that the quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator — in this instance, WVU’s Shannon Dawson — makes his way around to the top quarterbacks on the board and watches them each throw in person. Once that happens, a quarterback may get an offer, or the “offer” he had previously may finally become committable. Knowing that quarterback spots are at a premium, most recruits are quick to jump on offers earlier in the process if it is a school with which they feel comfortable.
With several quarterbacks — most notably Joe Burrow of Athens, Ohio; Lamar Jackson of Boynton Beach, Fla.; and Ryan Stanley of Flanagan, Fla. — with West Virginia at or near the top of their lists, it should not come as a shock if WVU has a quarterback in this class come June. And, as Mountaineer fans learned all too well this past season, that quarterback commitment will be important for years to come.
Chris Anderson is a full-time writer for eersports.com.