West Virginia has a history of developing underrecruited defensive linemen and turning them into program standouts. Players such as Mike Fox and Chris Neild dot the Mountaineer history books, and have marked the path for many players who have turned underappreciated high school careers into solid college turns. Can Jeffery Pooler fill that bill?
WHAT TO LIKE
Pooler moves very well, and is light on his feet for a big man. His lateral movement is very good, and he can track plays down the line to get to the ball out of his zone. He is always looking to pursue, and when he gets a gap, he is usually quickly into it and in pursuit mode before opposing blockers can react.
Pooler is still young, and just turned 17 prior to his senior season. He's likely to continue the growth and filling out process through his first couple years of college, and it's not unlikley that he'll end up close to 300 pounds by the time he is ready to hit the field. While not everyone agreed with his level of potential, he was listed among his region's best players to watch, and he has the building blocks to make a good lineman who isn't just a static position player that can only absorb blocks or stand his ground. He will have to work to maintain his mobility and flexibility as he adds strength and grows into the college game, but he has the quick burst to help him get into preferred gaps and become a dictator, not a reactor, on the defensive front.
This is Pooler's third commitment, having previously pledged to Toledo, then Maryland. While it is getting later in the recruiting process, and spots are filling up, there will always be a bit of concern with players who have flipped in the past. The one offsetting positive is that Tennessee came in with a late offer after Pooler set today's commitment announcement, and it did not cause him to push the date back. Still, this is one player that the Mountaineer will continue to recruit and pay a lot of attention to up through Signing Day.
Still, the new Mountaineer said this was it for the recruiting process for him.
"It has been difficult," he told BlueGoldNews.com after naming WVU. "I knew this was going to be my final decision, though, so I had to make sure it was the right one. It was a tough process."
Pooler, like many offensive and defensive linemen, has a lot of work to do to hone his technique. He has relied on speed and quickness to overwhelm Ohio high school opponents, but he will need to reshape his game to be an effective force in college.
Scout.com recruiting analyst Bill Greene agrees with that assessment, but sees positives that can be built on too.
"Jeffery is raw and his best football is ahead of him," Green said following Pooler's commitment. "He needs a redshirt year to add strength. He has quick feet and plays hard."
There's just so much of Pooler that reminds of Mike Fox, although there is one big difference in that Pooler is much more filled out than Fox was at this stage of their careers. He has all the tools -- now it's just a matter of putting in a couple of years' of work to bring them to fruition. Mindset and determination will be tested as much as his athletic skills, as they often are for linemen making the transition from high school to college.
Pooler has played both inside and on the edge for Dunbar High this year, so that helps in some ways in making him a bit more ready to take on the learning lab of college. His ultimate college position won't be known for at least a couple of years, and will be dependent on how he grows and whether his development trends more toward power and strength or quickness off the edge, but if he can continue the upward arc he has been on since his sophomore year, the Mountaineers could add him to the list of those who have maixmized their potential and become names that every WVU fan remembers.