By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
You knew this was a special press conference.
Dana Holgorsen was wearing a sports coat.
Certainly, it was a special occasion, for Holgorsen was there to introduce his first recruiting class as head coach, a group of 21 players — five had committed earlier and already were in school, preparing themselves to be ready for spring practice.
It was a class that had no real identity or direction, which probably is a good thing, for it shows no real weakness trying to be filled in. Not that anyone thought that a team coming off a 70-point explosion in a BCS bowl could have too many weaknesses.
“There wasn’t any area we had to stockpile,” Holgorsen said. “There’s a little bit of everything, which was what we were after.”
There were 14 offensive players, 12 defensive.
There is one quarterback, Ford Childress, a hot prospect out of Houston in the early group, four offensive linemen, two running backs, six wide receivers including one true super-stud in Deontay McManus out of Tavon Austin’s Dunbar High in Baltimore and, believe it or not, a real tight end in 6-6, 245-pound Minnesotan Will Johnson.
Defensively there are four down linemen, two linebackers, two cornerbacks and four safeties.
“A lot was made about where we could get guys from,” Holgorsen said, noting that they came mostly from the same places they usually have come from.
Eleven were from Florida, including the mandatory wide receiver, Devonte Mathis, out of ex-Mountaineer Damon Cogdill’s Miramar High, the school that sent quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney, among others, to WVU.
Then there were four form Ohio, four from Texas, three from Maryland, two from New Jersey including cornerback Brandon Napoleon, the son for former Mountaineer star Eugene Napoleon from the 1988 unbeaten team, and one each from Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Holgorsen went over everyone who was recruited during his press conference but it is best to hit upon the highlights, of which there were many.
It begins with an important position, running back, considering that with Dustin Garrison coming back from knee surgery, they went into the Orange Bowl with only two healthy tailbacks. Roshard Burney stands 5-10 and weighs 205 out of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
“He rushed for 2,000 yards in high school,” Holgorsen said. “That does not happen very often. He’s 205 and will get bigger and he’s a kid who smiles a bunch. You watch his tape and he’ll run you over but he’ll also bounce off you and outrun you.”
McManus is something of a phenom at wide receiver, although his numbers are not eye popping, 40 receptions for 590 yards and six touchdowns this year.
“We’re excited about him,” Holgorsen admitted. “He was one of our early commits and was highly recruited but has been solid since Day 1. He’s physically ready to play at the next level. We have to get his skills there.”
Another receiver is Travares Copeland, who played a lot of different positions including quarterback.
“He probably has as good a feet as anyone on the roster right now,” Holgorsen said. “He’s probably a slot receiver we can do a lot of stuff with to get him the ball. He runs well. He wants to play receiver, so we’ll stick him there and get him the ball as much as possible.”
That sounds a lot like Tavon Austin.
Next among the receivers is Devonte Robinson of Delray Beach, Fla., who is listed at 6-1, 170, but don’t you believe it.
“He grew a lot his senior year, to 6-2, maybe 6-3,” Holgorsen said, noting that he had a great senior season. “Talk about upside, he has it.”
Mark Glowinski was the only recruit out of Pennsylvania, a junior college player out of Lackawanna and one of a number of huge offensive linemen.
“He gained 50 pounds since high school,” Holgorsen said. “Watch him come off the ball; he’s a physical kid with great feet and he plays with an attitude. He can come in and will have a chance to compete for the starting left tackle spot next year.”
A high school offensive line recruit out of Cleveland’s great St. Edward’s program is Tyler Orlosky, who is 6-4 and 290.
“He is like (offensive line coach Bill) Bedenbaugh. He will lift weights, go home, eat, go to bed, get up and go lift weights all over again,” Holgorsen said.
And then there is 6-5, 324-pound — that’s right, 324 — Adam Pankey out of Hamilton, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb. He was thought to be signed, sealed and delivered to Pitt but he wound up taking Holgorsen up on his offer.
“He runs up and down the basketball court throwing elbows, changing directions and grabbing rebounds,” Holgorsen said of him.
If he doesn’t work out on the football field, there’s always Bob Huggins ...
On defense there is a safety, Karl Joseph from Orlando, whom Holgorsen says “has muscles sticking out all over” and from Jacksonville there is defensive lineman Korey Harris who Holgorsen says “can get off the ball and get after the quarterback, which will be crucial heading into the Big 12.”
Then there’s Nana Kyeremeh, who simply is the fastest player in the class. “He can play safety and corner and is great at rushing and blocking kicks,” Holgorsen said, backed up by four blocked punts with two returned for touchdowns this year and two blocked extra points.
The entire class reports on June 10.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.