The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

February 3, 2011

Mountaineers sign 17 new football recruits

MORGANTOWN — Depending upon how you viewed the proceedings at the Puskar Center on Wednesday afternoon, West Virginia unveiled the final recruiting class of the Bill Stewart or the first in the Dana Holgorsen era.

Whether the 17 recruits, who will join six early January recruits who now are in school and in the program and count against last year’s total, make up a successful class only time will tell, but rest assured if they are each coach will claim credit to it.

And if they fall short? Rest assured each will be quick to note that it wasn’t his class.

Perhaps we should just refer to it as the “Bill Holgorsen” recruiting class or simply the “Stewgorsen recruiting class”.

Either way, Stewart was the man at the microphone in the front of the room, decked out in his Wednesday-to-to-meeting clothes while Holgorsen sat with a row all to himself, donned in a fleece sweater, jeans and casual footwear.

There were no predictions of greatness for this class, nor were there knocks on their ability.

“Will they be stars? I don’t know,” Stewart said. “It’s always two, three years down the road before you find out. You have to remember, I found it out very quickly. Forty years ago I came here and thought I’d just step in but when I got here there were a lot of lines in front of me. Those guys in front of me were helpful, just like our guys will be helpful.”

But Stewart wound up at Fairmont State as a player.

The class introduced on Wednesday, not counting the early enrollees, who well may include the most important players, included nine offensive players and eight on the defensive side, a rather interesting mix considering that the Mountaineers return only three defensive starters.

That may be why Stewart spent some time talking about the defenders.

“The defense excites me even more than the offense,” Stewart said.

With a huge need for defensive linemen as both Chris Neild and Scooter Berry exit, WVU went out and came up with three promising prospects.

“It’s difficult to find defensive linemen,” Stewart said. “I feel we landed three top-notch players.”

The defensive linemen included 6-3, 275-pound Ben Bradley from Norcross, Ga., 6-4, 240-pound Kyle Rose from Centerville, Ohio, and 6-4, 308-pound noseguard Shaq Rowell from Iowa Western Community College and out of Maple Heights, Ohio.

Also on the defensive side were linebacker Jared Barber of Mocksville, N.C., linebacker Isaiah Bruce of Jacksonville (Fla.) Providence, a 215-pound with enough speed to be Florida state 300-meter champion, cornerback Terrelll Chestnut of Pottstown, Pa., a small player who may just be a potential star, and safety Nick Kwiatkoski of Bethel Park, Pa.

Offensively, the Mountaineers looked first for offensive linemen, trying to stockpile for the future in an area that let the team down this past year.

“It’s not easy to get linemen and we had zero committed this year [when we came in],” Holgorsen said, perhaps forgetting that current offensive tackle Josh Jenkins’ brother, Justin Johnson, had committed.

No one expects the group to move in and start right away.

“In my 12 years I have had one true freshman start on the offensive line. It’s hard to do,” Holgorsen said.

However, if ever they can, this might be the year for they are not really very far behind when it comes to learning a new system Holgorsen is bringing in.

“Experience counts,” Holgorsen said. “One thing the young linemen have going for them with a new system coming in in the spring they will only be four months behind everyone else.”

They did land a couple of prize running backs out of the Noel Devine mold.

Andrew Buie, 5-9, 191, out of Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity, was a highly ranked running back who rushed for 1,782 yards on 221 carries with 26 touchdowns while also throwing for 772 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Along with him was Dustin Garrison, 5-8, 165 out of Pearland, Texas, a refugee from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, who led his team to a 16-0 record and the Texas 5A championship. In his career he gained 4,261 yards and 62 touchdowns.

Holgorsen also added two wide receivers to his stable with Dante Campbell, a 6-5, 205 pounder, out of Clermont, Fla., who had 43 catches for 639 yards and seven touchdowns, and KJ Myers of Jacksonville, Fla., who had an 18.3 yard per catch average and nine catches his senior season.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@timeswv.com.

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