“Where’s the beef?”
Popular Wendy’s slogan from the 1980s or what Mountaineer fans are asking in regards to the 2018 recruiting class?
West Virginia has been on quite a recruiting tear lately, adding five commitments in the last month. However, while the staff were able to get their top targets at quarterback and running back, while shoring up a top-of-the-line receiving corps, there is still a big, blank space when it comes to the offensive line. That could — and should — change in the next couple weeks.
First up is a trio of high school linemen that are set to visit Morgantown next Saturday. Bolivar (Tenn.) Central guard Briason Mays is the newest name to the WVU offer board, but he immediately put the Mountaineers in his top five. He’s teammates with recent quarterback commit Trey Lowe, and admits the prospect of playing together will be a factor in his recruitment.
Joining Mays will be Georgia standouts Joshua Ezeudu (Archer) and Junior Uzebu (Alpharetta). Both have West Virginia in their top group, and both would like to make a decision in the very near future. Uzebu is a 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle with two dozen offers that likes West Virginia’s recent history with turning raw tackle prospects into early contributors (see Colton McKivitz and Yodny Cajuste). Meanwhile, Ezeudu could play inside or out and has back-to-back visits to WVU and Minnesota lined up before a college announcement at the end of the month.
The other high school lineman where there is serious interest both ways at the moment is Washington (DC) Gonzaga tackle Aidan Rafferty. The 247Sports three-star prospect camped in Morgantown last month and earned an offer on the spot.
Based off the rest of the offers, though, expect the staff to also put a heavy emphasis on the junior college level.
Lackawanna (Pa.) C.C. tackle T.J. Bradley may be the top target on the board. West Virginia was first to offer the 6-foot-8, 290-pounder, despite the fact that Bradley had not played a down of football in years. The converted basketball players has since caught the eye of many top programs, including fellow finalist Penn State. The Mountaineers are also interested in his teammate, Chase Brown. The 247Sports three-star is currently committed to Pitt, but WVU jumped in with an offer after his pledge and that could certainly shake things up.
The first junior college offer extended by offensive line coach — and JUCO recruiter extraordinaire — Joe Wickline was to Mississippi Gulf Coast (Miss.) C.C. tackle Treyvion Shannon. The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder planned to visit Morgantown last month, but his summer classes — which will allow him to graduate in December — kept him from making that trip. He now hopes to get up to campus this fall for an official visit.
There’s also interior lineman Reuben Lewis out of Coffeyville (Kan.) C.C., who Wickline saw in person twice this spring. He offered a short time later and Lewis has been working on a visit ever since. He doesn’t have any leaders, but indicated the Mountaineers were certainly in contention.
So, while the class as it stands now may be a bit skill-player heavy, expect there to be some “big ugly” additions in the near future.