By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Despite a couple of down seasons, capped off by becoming the first Big 12 team to lose to Kansas in three years, West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen believes his Mountaineers are improving and on the right recruiting track to become competitive in the Big 12.
“I think we’re getting better. If you look at last year’s class, if you look at the people we’re putting out on the field, we’re putting people out there that were part of the recruiting class last year, part of the recruiting class the year before,” Holgorsen said on Monday’s weekly Big 12 coaches’ conference call.
“Your challenge is to get that better. I do think our recruiting has gotten better and will continue to get better.”
Holgorsen admits he is not satisfied with results to date but says he is satisfied with the way the program is being built.
“I’m very comfortable with it,” he said. “No one is happy with 4 and 7. No one is happy being home for the holidays. The first time it happened to me is the first time it’s happened to West Virginia in quite some time.
“We’re building a program,” he continued. “The recruiting is going to continue to get better. We need to step up our program at the university and continue to build facilities and stay in line with everyone else across the country.
“We need to continue to improve. We need to continue to build our roster. We need to continue to improve our kids and have Big 12-caliber depth at all positions.”
The push for improved facilities, from remaking the Puskar Center to improving the indoor facility to many other projects, is nothing new, even though there have been numerous projects over the past decade to improve athletic facilities for all sports in addition to football.
Holgorsen said being in the Big 12 will bring a better breed of players to West Virginia than it previously could attract.
“We’ve only sold the Big 12 a couple of years. When you can go in the home and sell the Big 12 and you can sell the better venues and the caliber of play, you are going to get the better kid because of it,” he said.
One of the biggest problems this season has been a lack of depth, according to Holgorsen, especially with the large amount of injuries that have befallen the Mountaineers.
One reason for the lack of depth has been a need to redshirt as many as 30 players this year, a bit more than half of them scholarship players.
“You redshirt them for a reason. I’m looking at 30 guys on my sheet who are redshirting,” said Holgorsen, and he’s not satisfied with that.
“I wish we could have redshirted Marvin Gross, Darrien Howard and Jeremy Tyler. Those guys need to be redshirted. They need to be developed,” he continued. “There’s rare instances, like Daryl Worley, Wendell Smallwood, Daikiel Shorts, who can come in as a true freshman and be able to play at a pretty good level for being a true freshman.
“But that’s not where you want to be. You want to develop them. You want to redshirt them, get them seasoned. Those need to be your backups.”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.