From almost the moment Neal Brown stepped on West Virginia’s campus last January as the Mountaineers’ new football coach, the topic of Will Grier’s replacement was never far behind the Kentucky native and first-time Power 5 conference head coach.
Brown and his staff were willing to let the competition for the starting job go well into fall camp, with Oklahoma graduate transfer Austin Kendall emerging as the winner. When Kendall and the Mountaineers were mired in a five-game losing streak spanning multiple months, Brown opted to give Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege — who could, at that point in the season, play and still maintain his redshirt status — a chance.
Doege played the final quarter of a blowout loss to Texas Tech, but then led WVU to win on the road against a ranked Kansas State team, a close loss at home to Oklahoma State and then another road win against a TCU team playing for bowl eligibility.
Both Doege and Kendall have eligibility remaining, but it was hard not to trust what your eyes were seeing and assume Doege as the easy choice for starting quarterback going forward. Brown, however, is not there yet.
The WVU coach said he’ll watch the tape and have a plan — either with a starting quarterback in mind or a competition for the job going into the spring — in place when the team reconvenes next month.
“I’ll go back and really evaluate Austin and Jarret and how they did and try to take the emotion away from each individual game,” Brown said. “Just kind of look and see how they managed the offense, how productive they were, decision-making — those types of things — and in January when the guys get back, give them a clear plan and what direction we’re going quarterback-wise and from a competition standpoint.”
Kendall, a North Carolina native who was once a blue-chip prospect coming out of high school, started the first nine games of the season for West Virginia and helped lead the Mountaineers to wins against James Madison, North Carolina State and Kansas. In those nine games, Kendall completed 61.51 percent of his passes (187 of 304) with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions — averaging 221 passing yards per game.
In Doege’s three-plus games as the quarterback, the Texan completed 65.83 percent of his pass attempts (69 of 120) with seven touchdowns and three interceptions, with all three coming in the season finale at TCU. Doege averaged 204.5 passing yards per game in four games, playing only a quarter in one, slightly behind Kendall’s output in nine games.
CONSTANT BACKS OUT OF VERBAL COMMITMENT
Brooklyn (New York) running back Lamy Constant was a big feather in Brown’s cap for this recruiting class, but on Sunday the 247Sports four-star player backed out of his verbal commitment to the Mountaineers.
Constant had previously listed WVU, Louisiana State, Texas A&M and Michigan State as the four schools he would choose from then last month announced his commitment to West Virginia in a Nov. 12 tweet.
Constant went to Twitter again Sunday — this time to announce he was reopening his recruitment.
“Thank you for the love,” Constant said in a follow-up tweet. “Unfortunately there was a miscommunication and a misunderstanding on both my part and the coaches. I thank them for their interest and the WV fans for their love.”
The Mountaineers have 14 current “hard commits” according to 247Sports, with the most recent coming from Sean Martin — a 6-foot-6 in-state defensive lineman from Class AA runner-up Bluefield High. Martin is the second in-state scholarship commitment for Brown’s first full class at West Virginia along with Zach Frazier, a 6-foot-2, 277 pound standout offensive lineman and multiple-time state champion wrestler from Fairmont Senior.
According to the 247Sports ratings, cornerback David Vincent-Okoli — a four-star recruit from Maryland — is WVU’s highest rated commitment so far for the Class of 2020. The remaining 13 commitments — including Frazier, Martin, New Jersey offensive lineman Chris Mayo and Florida dual-threat quarterback Garrett Greene — are all three-star prospects.
As it currently stands, 247Sports has WVU’s recruiting class ranked No. 9 (out of 10 teams) in the Big 12. Texas tops the league currently, followed by Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa State, TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas State, WVU and then Baylor at No. 10.
Early signing day is on Dec. 18 this year, and Brown has said he expects the majority of the incoming class to sign their National Letters of Intent that day.