Dead period extended, how will West Virginia football respond?
If you were holding your breathe for the possibility of summer recruiting visits, you can safely exhale.
The NCAA has effectively closed the book on any chance to host summer camps or recruiting visitors – be it the official or unofficial variety – after extending the dead period through July 31.
The dead period, which initially had gone into effect in mid-March, prevents any in-person contact between prospects and coaching staffs whether that’s on campus or away from it. And now the recruiting calendar has essentially been erased with no opportunities to host prospects or even go out to evaluate them in-person at a time that is often critical to piecing together classes.
Considering that the entire month of August was set to be dead to begin with if there aren’t any adjustments then we’re looking at a recruiting landscape that hasn’t had visits since early March.
Erased from the West Virginia schedule was the entire evaluation period, all the opportunities to host prospects during spring football and the entire camp slate. Those dates were originally set June 2 and were planned for June 5, 7, 10 and 18 followed by the 7-on-7 and big man camp June 19-20.
Those are now gone, as was the planned official visit weekends that were set to close spring ball in April and then the big summer weekend that was set for the June 12 weekend.
Those are significant chunks of the recruiting calendar that have quite literally been ripped out of the book of the 2021 class as the coaches have to develop a plan to pick up the pieces. The good news is that the Mountaineers are on a level playing field with all other schools in the NCAA but one thing that the coaches are going to have to overcome is selling the program without the benefit of visits.
Those visits have long been a staple of recruiting success in Morgantown and that isn’t lost on head coach Neal Brown either as he addressed the issue with WVSports.com.
While it’s important to get players on campus at any school, that is perhaps more significant at West Virginia because of the location and the relatively small geographic footprint that the Mountain State provides. In layman’s terms, many people simply aren’t passing through unless they have a reason to.
“That’s not always the case with other schools. It’s really important we get people here and they’re able to get a first impression because in general the impression that they leave here with is better than they come in with,” Brown said.
The Mountaineers have certainly done that in this current class as the program hosted a large number of their top 2021 prospects multiple times dating back to junior days last year, recruiting camps last summer, game-day visits and a set of six junior day events from December to early March.
But the challenge now will be filling in those gaps and keeping prospects engaged enough to be interested in the Mountaineers to visit once the dead period does eventually end. The good news is that a large portion of prospects have already made that trek but for those that haven’t it will continue to be an uphill fight for the coaches with more and more prospects making early commitments in this class.
For now, the best bet for when the dead period could conclude is likely if college football games are hosted in Morgantown this fall – but in the meantime recruiting must move forward.
West Virginia currently has nine commitments in the class and that number is likely to grow in the coming weeks especially now with clarity that visits aren’t going to be possible this summer.
That is going to open the possibility of perhaps softening the stance of not taking commitments without visits, but that is something that the coaches will have to sort out moving forward.
It’s an entirely different landscape that nobody has dealt with before, but the challenge for the West Virginia coaches will be to adapt and make the most of it.
Because even with the world slowed down, recruiting never stops.
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