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WVU recruiting: Mountaineers playing the numbers game in Florida

By By Chris Anderson
For the Gazette

Despite losing a commitment last month from Miami Killian (Fla.) cornerback Sheldrick Redwine, West Virginia still has 10 commits in the 2015 class and is ranked No. 18 in the nation by 247Sports. The class is still largely made up of players from Florida, with five of the 10 pledges coming from the Sunshine State. Why such an emphasis on a state so far away, and one that has five BCS teams within its borders?

Well, it’s a numbers game — specifically the numbers 320, 44 and eight.

From 2008 to 2013, Florida produced an average of 320 high school seniors per year that signed with Football Bowl Subdivision schools, according to a study by SB Nation. That was second only to Texas (358) and more than double every other state except California (236). So despite the fact that Miami, Florida, Florida State, South Florida and Central Florida all offer in-state options at the highest level of college football, there would still annually be over 200 FBS-caliber recruits remaining, even if all five teams signed a full class of in-state kids.

As for the other numbers, that’s the total amount of players taken in the NFL draft who played high school football in Florida — 44 overall and eight taken in the first round. The latter number is double what any other state could muster, and the next closest overall was California with 37.

It’s no surprise, then, that West Virginia continues to press on the recruiting trail in Florida, led by JaJuan Seider, Damon Cogdell, Joe DeForest and even Tony Gibson. That trend continued this week, as the Mountaineers offered a trio of Sunshine State stars, in hopes of continuing the influx of talent.

The first to receive the good news was Plant defensive tackle Kyle Henderson. The three-star prospect already held double-digit offers from the likes of Illinois, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and more, but he admits the WVU offer caught his attention.

“I just like the way they’ve been playing for a couple of years now. They really seem like they have a lot of potential,” he said. “Also, their uniforms are sick, but that’s just a bonus.”

A short time later, one of the top sophomores in the nation, Flanagan linebacker Devin Bush, received an offer from the Mountaineers. The 2016 prospect is very familiar with new assistant Cogdell, as Flanagan and Miramar (where Cogdell was the head coach previously) are heated rivals.

“He’s seen me in live action and I played against his team, so he knows what he likes,” said the 2016 prospect. “He saw me a couple months ago and came out to school practice and the spring game.”

Finally, in some news that harkens back to last week’s piece about summer camps, Oviedo lineman Alec Shriner picked up an offer from West Virginia. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound prospect camped in Morgantown last year, earning Offensive Line MVP from the coaching staff. The twist here, though, is that the Mountaineers like him on the defensive line, and needed to check him out this spring. After both DeForest and Gibson stopped by to scout him during the evaluation period, and they were able to check out his transcripts, they decided to offer.

Shriner says that he will likely return to Morgantown this summer, but he won’t be camping, just checking out the campus and touring the facilities.

If the staff is really looking to secure Shriner’s commitment, they could offer up his former teammate (and 2014 West Virginia signee) Tyree Owens as a tour guide. Well, him or any of the other 20-plus Floridians currently on the Mountaineer roster.

Chris Anderson is a full-time writer for

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