This week was a not-so-gentle reminder of the old saying “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” That came on the recruiting trail and the unlucky recipient of that reminder was the West Virginia University’s football team.
WVU’s 2021 recruiting class already ranks among the best ever for the Mountaineers – and is currently trending to be the best ever – but it took a hit this week with one decommitment, and the staff fending off a couple of blue-bloods for another verbal pledge.
On Friday night, Northwest Mississippi Community College defensive lineman Nijel McGriff chose to decommit from West Virginia, announcing his intentions on social media.
“First off, I would like to thank the [M]ountaineer [N]ation for showing me so much love and I would like to thank [C]oach [B]rown and coach Lesley for believing in me,” the tweet read. “After a talk with my parents, I’ve decided to de-commit from West Virginia University.”
McGriff did not mention any other schools that he was considering or leaning toward, but sources say that Ole Miss is his most likely landing spot at the moment. McGriff mentioned both Ole Miss and Florida State as two teams that he would like to visit, even while committed and before announcing that he was reopening his recruitment.
Two nights before that, Germantown (Maryland) Northwest wide receiver Kaden Prather announced that he had received an offer from Texas. When reached for comment, the 247Sports four-star recruit seemed to blow off the news.
“It changes nothing with my commitment,” said Prather. “I’m just having fun with the process and taking all blessings God gives me.”
Although Prather shrugged off the offer, sources say that the Longhorns are not the only team trying to actively flip Prather. Both Penn State and Maryland – two teams Prather turned down to originally commit to WVU – are trying to get him to back off his pledge. At the moment, his strong relationship with West Virginia offensive coordinator Kaden Prather seems to be keeping him firm in his commitment.
This should not be a cause for alarm, rather a reminder of what recruiting has become in recent years. Decommitments are commonplace, and this staff has actually done better than most in their limited time at West Virginia. In the last cycle, there were a record number of decommitments across college football, yet the Mountaineers only had one true – read, not WVU’s choice – decommitment for 2020 in defensive lineman Aaron Lewis, who flipped to Michigan (and then transferred from there before the end of his first year on campus).
West Virginia may only have a handful of spots remaining in this class, but the coaches will certainly be doing just as much work to keep the players already committed on board moving forward.