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WVU football hot on the trail of juco recruits

By By Chris Anderson
For the Gazette-Mail

During the month of August, college football recruiting entered a dead period. Yet the West Virginia University coaching staff was still making a plan. With a solid class of 15 high school recruits already in place, West Virginia would turn at least some of its attention to junior college players in order to fill out the remainder of the class.

“When juco season starts, we’ll keep an eye on a lot of (juco) transfers around the country,” WVU director of player personnel Ryan Dorchester said earlier this month. “We’ll see who is out there and what we need.”

It wasn’t long after Dorchester made those comments that several junior college prospects began hearing from the Mountaineers. That included several safeties, a couple linemen and a cornerback. Some got offers. Some didn’t. Some were former high school stars with academic issues. Some were former Power 5 players “bouncing back” via juco and looking for a new home.

Safety seems to be the biggest target, and it’s no surprise why. While there is some very good young talent on the roster — Derrek Pitts, JoVanni Stewart, and Kenny Robinson — West Virginia will lose Kyzir White and Marvin Gross (and possibly Dravon Askew-Henry) after this season.

First to claim an offer was Butler (Kansas) Community College defensive back Charlie Benton. Out of high school, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game with some of the nation’s best. Grades forced him to junior college, and now the Mountaineers are working to get the December grad on campus next January as an early enrollee with three years of eligibility remaining.

The same goes for Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College safety Greg Eisworth, although his path to a new WVU offer is definitely different. He signed with Ole Miss out of high school, but elected to transfer out after the NCAA confronted the program with numerous violations and the potential for sanctions. After receiving his Mountaineer offer, he said West Virginia “will definitely be a school I look into.”

The third juco offer to go out this week was to Iowa Western Community College cornerback Terence Williams. A stud high school recruit in 2016, Williams originally committed to Louisville over North Carolina, N.C. State, and several others. Academics sent him to junior college, though, and he’s on the verge of a lot more scholarships than just one from West Virginia, which was his first.

Coincidentally, Williams did not play last year, forced to redshirt as the cornerback position at Iowa Western was held by current Mountaineer corner Hakeem Bailey. Once he puts some game film together this fall, other programs are likely to join West Virginia on his offer list.

That could be the case for a lot of WVU targets as well. Lineman Noah Banks and linebacker Emanuel Bridges both said the staff just wants to see some film this fall before offering. Others will surely fall into that category as well.

That’s the luxury of a strong summer recruiting run. Not only did the coaching staff secure several key high school recruits, but it allows the coaches to focus in on areas of need to target in the juco ranks. Expect the Mountaineers to be in the running for some big names from that level this fall.

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