The compass hasn’t changed.
The West Virginia University and Marshall University football programs still are going in different directions.
That fact stayed true to form even during the early signing recruitment period.
The Mountaineers signed 19 recruits, including three junior college transfers. The Thundering Herd signed 18, according to 247 Sports recruiting service, including seven jucos.
WVU enjoyed an outstanding recruiting period in what, for all intents and purposes, was head coach Neal Brown’s first early signing class.
The Mountaineers did so well, 247 Sports ranked WVU’s class fourth-best in the Big 12 Conference.
Texas was No. 1 overall in the Big 12 with a class ranked No. 9 nationally. Following the Longhorns (in order) were Oklahoma (No. 10 nationally), TCU (No. 30), WVU (No. 38), Oklahoma State (No. 40), Iowa State (No. 43), Texas Tech (No. 45), Kansas (No. 47), Kansas State (No. 49) and Baylor (No. 54).
That’s an impressive showing by WVU. The Mountaineers augmented their class by surprisingly getting a commitment from Sam Brown, 6-foot-2, 186-pound wide receiver from Georgia.
The highly regarded Brown made only two official visits – WVU and the University of Florida.
He was expected to sign with the Gators, but the Mountaineers were able to flip him.
WVU’s three juco recruits were at need positions. The Mountaineers got Tairiq Stewart, 6-4 ½ 318-pound offensive guard from ASA College (New York). Then, there’s Quay Mays, 6-1, 290-pound defensive tackles from North West Mississippi. And, finally, Jackie Matthews, 6-0, 195-pound cornerback from Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Now, for Marshall.
The Herd announced 15, but 247 Sports lists Marshall with 18 recruits, including seven jucos who will enroll for MU’s second semester and take part in spring practice.
As it turns out, 247 Sports wasn’t very impressed with the Thundering Herd’s class, ranking it only No. 10 among Conference USA’s 14 member schools.
The leader was Louisiana Tech with 22 signees and a national ranking of No. 66. North Texas was second with 19 recruits and a No. 68 national ranking.
Following them (in order) were FIU’s 18 recruits (No. 85 nationally), Southern Miss’ 20 recruits (No. 86), Charlotte’s 16 signees (No. 91), Middle Tennessee’s 18 recruits (No. 93), Rice’s 16 recruits (No. 95), UAB’s 15 signees (No. 101), Western Kentucky’s 20 recruits (No. 103), Marshall’s 18 recruits (No. 107), Florida Atlantic’s 10 signees (No. 118), UTSA’s 10 recruits (No. 124), UTEP’s 14 signees (No. 125) and Old Dominion with only nine recruits (No. 130).
The bad news for Conference USA is the beleaguered conference had three of the seven lowest-ranked classes in FBS, including the very worst recruiting class.
Now, in Marshall’s defense, scouting services such as 247 Sports never rate classes that are heavy in junior college transfers very highly. That’s because the scouting services devote much of their resources toward evaluating high school players and really don’t have a handle on jucos.
That obviously drove Marshall’s rankings down.
It also points out the different directions of the Mountain State only two FBS programs.
Veteran Marshall coach Doc Holliday has gotten to the point where he recruits mostly for need. For example, MU loses senior linebackers Omari Cobb and Tyler Brown, so the Herd recruited a pair of juco linebackers.
WVU’s Brown, on the other hand, is building a roster. He is trying to improve the Mountaineers’ level of talent across the board.
It will be interesting to see which direction works best.