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September 14, 2012

WVSports.com Q&A 9-14-12

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The Mountaineers are in their first Big 12 season andthere has never been more excitement surrounding the program. Give WVSports.com a try with a7-day free trial.

Which commits at other schools does WVU have a good shot to flip? Who are at the top of WVU's recruiting board at CB and DL? Lastly, who do you see as our next commit?

I believe there are a few prospects that WVU could flip if they are interested in doing so. You can see from the Hot Board ($$) that there are a number of recruits that still claim interest from WVU even after giving their verbal pledge to another school.


Some of the prospects that I would watch very closely are: Mesquite (Tx.) West Mesquite defensive end Dimarya Mixon, who is scheduled to visit Morgantown for the Baylor game but remains committed to Arizona State; Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage offensive tackle Roderick Johnson was committed to Florida for most of his recruitment but decided to open up the process and the Mountaineers are strongly in the mix and will receive an official visit; Woodbridge Senior (Va.) cornerback Evrett Edwards is currently committed to Duke but could be making an official to West Virginia; another cornerback in Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast's DJ Killings who's committed to UCF but is hearing a lot from the West Virginia coaching staff and is close with WVU commitment De'Asian Richardson.

Others that can be considered if they make it to campus are Sicklerville (N.J.) Timber Creek athlete Myles Nash, Lancaster (Tx.) athlete Demarcus Ayers, Fleming Island (Fla.) safety Donel Elam and Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin defensive tackle Kinglsey Opara.

As far as Corner goes you've got a lot of prospects committed elsewhere that the Mountaineer coaching staff is staying in contact with but open names to keep an eye out for are Leroy Clark, Lamar Robbins and Nate Godwin. On the DL there are a lot more prospects open about their recruitment with West Virginia but guys like Paul James, Marvin Gross and Devon Edwards are good possibilities if the coaching staff is willing to take. I wouldn't sleep on a big time prospect in Deadrin Senat at this point.

With official visits coming up in the coming weeks it wouldn't be a shock to see a few commitments happen but two names that come to mind is Delray Beach (Fl.) American Heritage athlete Marcus Davis when he finally arrives for his official visit to Morgantown and Miami (Fla.) Norland BUCK linebacker Paul James.

Any concern about ECA and how they are not sanctioned. Will this impact the kids' ability to qualify?

The main issues with Eastern Christian appear to deal with local athletic qualification to allow the school to play against local teams. While a game has been canceled by an opponent due to fears of these issues it really isn't something coaches or even fans should have to worry about since it's the academic side that could keep either of the West Virginia's two commits, Daikiel Shorts and Wendell Smallwood, from qualifying. The reality is that ECA is no different than some prep schools that student athletes attend yearly. As long as they are accredited based off of NCAA guidelines there shouldn't be any worries. I also wouldn't expect to see WVU coaches put so much effort into recruiting prospects from ECA if they felt there was any real chance of them not being eligible. Same can be said for USC with their commits also.

When can the hoops coaches hold skills sessions with player groups, and if they are already under way, who's showing well?

Right now it's for a total of eight hours per week. Two hours on the court, six hours strength and conditioning and the workouts on the court cannot have more than four players at a time. In a few weeks that changes and the team is allowed two hours of team workouts on the court. We hope to have more on players standing out later this fall.

Regarding hoops recruiting, do we have any in home visits set up and who has been in for official visits for 2013, 2014, and 2015?

Haven't heard of any official visits at this point, but 2014 five-star power forward Chris McCullough was in town on an unofficial visit for the Marshall game and by all accounts it went very well. Remember that 2014 and 2015 prospects are not eligible to take official visits, only of the unofficial variety.

Keno, can you do some more digging into this nickel thing or lack of?

I asked co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest this question this week and he said that the bye week allowed them to install the nickel or "speed," package and as a group the cornerbacks are getting healthier. Former cornerback turned free safety Ishmael Banks was converted back to corner during the bye week to add even more depth at the position.
It appears to be more procedural. This is a brand new defensive staff, save Coach Dunlap. The priority since spring has been focusing on the integration of the 3-4 defense. The styling is much like Holgorsen's Offense--know the scheme, know what to do, and attack in every way you operate. That said, it also requires precision, which means you need players you can trust. Once the defense got to a point where they could trust a base-11 that would attack the ball, next comes filling in the nickel set. It will use the same core principals--lateral speed, ball attack, linebacker-level athleticism--but couldn't be honed until now.

Will WVU spend some $ to campaign Geno for the Heisman? Are they allowed to? We all know Geno will have the stats to carry him to NYC, and the Big12 exposure helps tremendously, but is that enough for a WVU guy to win it?

Based on past comments from head coach Dana Holgorsen, there will be no campaign for Smith and they will instead let his play speak for itself. Playing a Big 12 schedule if Smith can continue on his torrid pace, then he should have a seat in New York. Remember, last season Baylor sent Robert Griffin III to the ceremony where he won the Heisman. Who's to say that the same can't happen at West Virginia?

But the money will be there. The days of Joey Harrington on a Times Square billboard are done. That was a $250,000 expenditure. Northwestern sent out dumbbells for Dan Persa last season, while Robert Griffin and Baylor politicked via snail mail. The accessibility of games and social media means an impact player can be instantly recognized. Geno is sexy, because his coach is a maverick in a new conference. You add the stats, and now an athlete and their story can speak on their own. Money will be thrown into this, if it warrants, but let the media build the narrative then pounce in November, when the topic is more prevalent.

Who did Holgs scout during his jaunt to Texas this past weekend?

From my knowledge Holgorsen went to Texas to watch his nephew play.

Following the CB article and discussion: which corners are "ready to contribute" at this moment? I realize that you either may not fully know or be willing to pass along injury, etc. info. Basically, are the players listed in the depth charts the ones we are likely to see in the next game playing? Are there certain players that may play soon who have not been mentioned much up to this point?

I believe that Brodrick Jenkins, Pat Miller, Nana Kyeremeh, Ishmael Banks, Ricky Rumph and Cecil Level should be ready to contribute in this game, along with potentially Terrell Chestnut. As I mentioned above, Banks was moved over from free safety to add depth to the unit and has experience playing cornerback in the past. The one player I'm unsure of at this point is Avery Williams. After battling injuries for much of fall-camp, Williams didn't dress against Marshall and it will be interesting to see if he will see the field against James Madison.

How are our redshirts doing and who among them will contribute later?

Everything is going well there. Depending on what happens some of those players could still find their way onto the football field this year, but I've heard nothing but positive things out of the group. I think you're going to see contributions from many of them especially at wide receiver.

Have you heard any reports on how Volodomyr Gerun is doing?

Gerun, or Voldy as he's gone by, is adjusting but it's still too early to say how much he will contribute right off the bat. From what I've been told he's still adjusting from the European style of play similar to Deniz Kilicli when he arrived on campus. How he continues to adjust will be the determining factor on how much he can see the floor this fall and help the Mountaineers.

Has Noreen healed from his injury, and has he gained additional strength and weight?

Noreen is well and has recovered from last season's injury and has taken a leadership role with the team. He has gotten stronger according to sources in the program, but I don't have the exact details on any potential weight gain.

Any updates on JUCO recruiting, particularly on the defensive side of the ball?

JUCO recruiting is usually something that is kept quiet until the prospect decides to go public or closer to the signing day for Junior College players. You'll see a major premium put on quality players who have three years left to play and can enroll in January. This gives the coaches a very short period of time to evaluate the immediate need on the roster for a JUCO player once the regular season is over.

You can look at a position like NG and see two young players in Imarjaye Albury and Christian Brown backing up an upperclassman in Shaq Rowell. If neither Albury nor Brown develops in the manner and speed that the coaches were hoping for then you could see an effort to bring in another developed body at that position to contribute. If one or both show the growth and potential the coaches thought they would see when recruited then the course is likely to turn to a high school prospect that can play for four seasons.

Now I'm just using the nose guard position as an example but I would say we would be waiting a while to get some definitive word on possible JUCO's. However, I will say that there are some interesting ones on the radar.

Scooba (Miss.) East Mississippi C.C. defensive end Za'Darius Smith is a prospect that had wanted to visit West Virginia for the Marshall game but was unable to make it. He's in the process of trying to schedule another visit. Hutchison (Kan.) Hutchison C.C. wideout Jatavius Stewart is a speedy receiver who looks like a real player and he's currently leaning to West Virginia due to the style of offense. He plans to visit next weekend for the Maryland game. Another Hutchinson standout is linebacker Antonio Longino, although it's unclear if he will visit Morgantown. Also a trio of offensive to watch are Athens (Tx.) Trinity Valley C.C. offensive tackle Josiah St. John, Corsicana (Tx.) Navarro J.C. offensive tackle Aleon Calhoun and Brenham (Tx.) Blinn C.C. center/guard Tyler Edwards, who expects to visit for the Baylor game.

Does Huggs still act like this year's team is going to be one of the best he has had? It seems like he has felt that this team could be top 10 by the end of the year with a deep run possible.

Huggins feels this team can be a solid tournament squad if there is consistent shooting from the wings. Is that Jabarie Hinds, BC transfer Matt Humphrey or frosh Terry Henderson? Aaron Brown, if he is off the Huggins treadmill? One needs to find a stroke that can create inside space for Aaric Murray (now listed as a center) and Deniz Kilicli (a listed forward) to enter deeper. If that happens, Juwan Staten can find greater penetration, allowing kick outs to those three shooters. This is a team with seven players (Brown, Gary Browne, Hinds, Kilicli, Keaton Miles, Dom Rutledge, and--when healthy--Kevin Noreen) who saw ample playing time, then three transfer contributors in Murray, Staten and Humphrey. Experience is there, maybe because their minutes resulted in a Pyrrhic victory towards season's end. But those seven have been to the show, for better, not worse.

How's basketball recruiting progressing? Any news on another 2013 guy, any new names/increased interest from targets in 2014?

You can add some interest for West Virginia in 2015 forward prospect Levi Cook. OK, that one was easy but how can you pass up the opportunity to talk about a top notch prospect who loves West Virginia as much as its residents and alumni does?

With three senior graduating and three incoming freshman getting ready to come in for the class of '13 I wouldn't look for as much action for that class as you should for the class of 2014. Not that WVU couldn't or wouldn't add anymore for the class of '13 I could see another commit before all is said and done. In no way do I want to come across as if I am speaking for the basketball staff but rather just an opinion based off scholarship numbers and who is still available to be signed at this point. Way too many variables involved to say exactly what will happen, one of those being the entire 2012-13 basketball season.

Does this talk of a new football stadium funded by Mike Puskar's estate have any legs?

State funding will be hard to come by, as Luck has gone to this well often already, and other institutions (not just Marshall) have pressing needs. There is money to be had, but be aware that estates like the Puskar matter can take years to dissolve.

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