When West Virginia put the finishing touches on its 2019 football recruiting class, the objectives of the 2020 class were pretty clear. The staff wanted to add a couple of late pieces, but knew – for the most part – what it would need in the next class, and began recruiting as such.
As time has gone on, though, circumstances have changed, and so have the needs for the Mountaineers.
“I think we’re going to have to add a couple more defensive backs to the class than maybe we originally thought due to attrition,” head coach Neal Brown said at a press conference last month.
Of course, since the spring, West Virginia lost three safeties to transfer and a couple more defensive backs to injury. That’s put the team in a hole this fall, as the Mountaineers are routinely filling in spots in the secondary with true freshmen and current or former walk-ons.
In recent weeks, West Virginia’s moves on the recruiting trail have reflected this newfound reality. The Mountaineers quickly reached out to Mississippi Gulf Coast (Mississippi) Community College cornerback Jackie Matthews, a 247Sports three-star prospect with three years to play two seasons.
He’d be eligible to graduate in December and enroll in the spring at the school of his choice. He already has an official visit set to Morgantown on Dec. 7.
He’s not the only junior college player that the staff has targeted, however. West Virginia is using their connections to the junior college ranks – particularly with defensive line coach Jordan Lesley, who coached at the junior college level in Mississippi previously – to help fill a few more holes on the roster for next season. They don’t want to rely on this tactic too much, though.
“We’re not going to try to wholesale it and sign a bunch [of junior college players],” said Brown. “We’re going to try to build this through high school development and add the right kids through grad transfers and junior college.”
The Mountaineers also made a move on defensive lineman Justin Jackson of Northwest Mississippi Community College. The 247Sports three-star is currently committed to Colorado, but he is very open to other possibilities. That includes West Virginia, where he will visit December 7th, and Florida and Auburn. Also at defensive end is Georgia Military College’s Yaya Diaby. He claimed an offer in October and says he will visit in December as well.
Maybe the most eye-raising new junior college offer came at running back. The Mountaineers had hoped to add two running backs in this class, and are in a good spot for at least one high schooler (Lamy Constant out of New York). But a second never really emerged. Enter La’damian Webb out of Jones County (Mississippi) Junior College.
The 247Sports three-star prospect already held offers from Oklahoma State and Ole Miss, but claimed a scholarship from the Mountaineers last week. With Kennedy McKoy graduating and Martell Pettaway possibly gone after a redshirt, he could be another game-ready back to help carry the load in the backfield.
There’s still over a month until National Signing Day – the early one, at least – and there will likely be even more junior college players added to the recruiting board. The Mountaineers have a lot of young talent that is showing it’s ready for big-time college football, and a few key junior college additions could help this program get back to its winning ways sooner rather than later.