West Virginia was the first school in the nation to double-digit commits in 2015; the class has routinely been ranked in the top 10 in the 247Sports Composite for the past five months; and assistant coach JaJuan Seider has a stranglehold on the top spot in the 247Sports Big12 Recruiter Rankings.
Now, the Mountaineers can add another accolade to the list, as two of the prized members of this class have been invited to Nike’s The Opening, a four-day competition at Nike World Headquarters in Oregon, where only the top prospects in the nation are invited. There, they will be coached by NFL stars and legends such as Larry Fitzgerald, Richard Sherman, Aaron Rodgers, Jerry Rice and more.
The first West Virginia commit to get the nod was Miramar (Fla.) defensive back Kendrell McFadden, who received his invite shortly after a dominant performance at the Nike Football Training Camp in Miami back in March.
“There was a lot of good competition out there and I was proud of myself that I stood out,” the 6-foot-3, 193-pound prospect said last week. “They told me that I’m coachable and that they like my size.”
Wide receiver commit Jovon Durante out of Miami Norland participated in that same event, but organizers did not select him at the time to come to The Opening. They did, however, tell him that he was likely to be added to the list down the road once they were able to finish the remaining camps across the country.
Earlier this month, that’s exactly what happened, as the highly regarded prospect was named to the prestigious competition and told to pack his bags for Oregon on July 5.
“Thank God,” Durante posted on Facebook when he was informed of the news. “One of my dreams came true.”
Although both are ranked as four-star recruits and as one of the top 15 players at their respective positions, each says he is looking to make statements in Oregon. Durante says he is looking to earn his fifth star from 247Sports, while McFadden has equally lofty expectations.
“I’m looking forward to showing that I’m the next big defensive back like [Seattle Seahawks’ All-Pro] Richard Sherman,” said McFadden. “I want to show that I can play on the big stage at college and that I can play at the professional level.”
While both Durante and McFadden have the talent and potential to play on Sundays one day, the Mountaineer coaching staff is working to make sure both are playing their Saturdays in Morgantown first.
With that immense talent comes tremendous pressure from other colleges, despite their commitments to West Virginia. The Mountaineers are fighting off Miami and Alabama to keep Durante in the fold, while Auburn and Ohio State have not backed off McFadden.
If WVU can keep both players on board even after they showcase their talents for the nation at The Opening — which is set to air on ESPN — it will be another feather in the cap of this 2015 class.
Chris Anderson is a full-time writer for eersports.com.