The Times West Virginian

Sports

February 6, 2013

WVU seeks to fill holes on National Signing Day

MORGANTOWN — One of the most crucial recruiting seasons in many years comes to a conclusion today for West Virginia University’s football team with the Mountaineers expected to welcome at least 24 recruits, hoping to fill huge gaps following a disappointing season.

Every year in college football teams face rebuilding situations, but few teams in recent memory have lost the likes of quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, who leaves with a year’s eligibility remaining.

These are three record-shattering performers who powered an offense that allowed the Mountaineers to record a winning season along with a bowl invitation in a year when it fielded the worst defense in school history.

In truth, WVU lost its top four receivers with Austin, Bailey, senior J.D. Woods and junior Ivan McCartney, who left the team in mid-season.

Now, WVU must fill in big holes on the offense that includes the heart and soul of the offensive line in center Joey Madsen and guard Jeff Braun, along with running back Shawne Alston.

At the same time, the special team specialists must also be rebuilt with placekicker/punter Tyler Bitancurt and punter/kickoff man Corey Smith leaving, to say nothing of return men Austin and Bailey.

Add the holes there are on defense that not only include replacing many of last year’s players who did not perform well, but also cornerback Pat Miller and safety Terence Garvin.

The Mountaineers received a late commitment at Monday night’s basketball game against Texas when junior college punter Nick O’Toole was offered a scholarship.

They already have five junior college players on their list, three of them enrolled in school and ready for spring practice, players they hope will offer immediate help.

Four are offensive players, perhaps the most important being wide receivers Ronald Carswell (Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss.) and Kevin White (Lackawanna Community College in Scranton). They were seen as potential replacements for Austin and Bailey.

Carswell originally signed with Alabama and played there a year before being suspended before the bowl. At Itawamba, in his only year there, he finished the season with 44 receptions for 429 yards and one touchdown.

White, out of Lackawanna, which sent former defensive back Shawn Hackett to the Mountaineers, made 36 receptions, totaling 535 yards and six touchdowns last year while averaging 14.9 yards per reception.

From Butler Junior College in El Dorando, Kansas, comes running back Dreamius Smith to replace Shawne Alston. He helped the team to a combined 22-2 record over two seasons, including the 2011 NJCAA national championship, while falling in the championship game in 2012.

Last year he finished with 984 yards on 120 carries and 17 touchdowns while averaging 8.2 yards per carry and adding 16 receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Looking to replace Madsen, the Mountaineers have added Stone Underwood from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez, Miss., and outside linebacker D’Vante Henry of Arizona Western Community College is a potential replacement for Josh Francis, who finished second on the team in sacks last year.

Defensively, the key signing may prove to be 265-pound pass rushing end Dontrill Hyman out of Mississippi’s Hind Community College, WVU in desperate need of pass rushing help having lost its top three in sacks from last year, a team that did not apply much pressure.

East Carolina put on a push for Hyman, but its former defensive coordinator, Brian Mitchell, is now on WVU coach Dana Holgorsen’s staff.

Perhaps most likely to replace Alston is a high school four-star recruit, Shelton Gibson, out of Cleveland Heights (Ohio) High, who weighs only 173 pounds but has the same type of shiftiness that Austin displayed during his time at WVU.

“His change of direction is eye-opening and it has fooled many opposing defenders in high school,” wrote Bleacher Report of him.

WVU is also expecting letters from two four-star inside linebackers in 260-pound Darrien Howard of Dayton (Ohio) Chaminade-Julienne and Al-Rasheed Benton out of Newark, N.J., Malcom X. Shabazz High.

Howard was ranked ninth by ESPN among its inside linebackers.

WVU has three other four-star prospects lined up in safety Malik Greaves out of Jacksonville, Fla., Sandalwood High, outside linebacker Hodari Christian from McKeesport (Pa.) High and offensive tackle Marcell Lazard out of Bloomfield (N.J.) High.

In all, WVU expects 24 or more commitments.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

    

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • NMHS #28 PITCH -TS.jpg Pitching pushes North past Monarchs in game two of doubleheader: PHOTOS

    North Marion coach Vic Seccuro wanted to send a message to his team, telling them to focus, bear down and grit out a victory.
    After falling 13-8 to Braxton County in game one of a Saturday doubleheader, the Huskies bounced back to beat John Marshall, 4-2, Saturday at North Marion High School.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • EFHS #21-OG #11-TS.jpg Bees split with Oak Glen on Senior Day: PHOTOS

    Twice on Saturday the East Fairmont softball team found itself leading Oak Glen 3-1 in the seventh inning.
    The situation was the same in both games of the doubleheader. The way the Bees’ handled it, though, was quiet different.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • NMHS #14, 21-RC #14-TS.jpg Lady Huskies fall to Ritchie County late, 5-4: PHOTOS

    It couldn’t have happened the way it did even if No. 6 Ritchie County had drawn it up.
    The bases were loaded. There were no outs. And by a swing of bad luck a fly ball was dropped in the outfield as two runs came across to score, propelling the Rebels to a 5-4 win over No. 9 North Marion in the final game of the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School Saturday.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • Blue Jackets edge Pens, 4-3, in double OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

    April 20, 2014

  • Braun homers twice, rallies Brewers over Pirates, 8-7

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 20, 2014

  • NMHS #14 hit.jpg North Marion goes 2-for-2; Fairmont Senior 0-for-2 in tournament

    A day after an 11-0 mercy-rule victory at Philip Barbour, the North Marion Huskies were at it again.
    Chelsi Latocha threw three no-hit innings, Shelby King drove in five runs in the first inning and the Huskies rolled to a 20-0 victory over the winless Fairmont Senior Polar Bears in the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School.

    April 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • Brewers’ Lohse beats Pirates again

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 19, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos