West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen started out his National Signing Day press conference by giving a shoutout to Ryan Dorchester, who is in his 12th year working with West Virginia University's football program and third year in the position of Director of Player Personnel. After giving Dorchester some much deserved recognition, Holgorsen got right down to business and started discussing the process of putting together his 2017 recruiting class.
"It just feels so much different than in the past with how we put together our roster now," Holgorsen said. "If you look back on when I first got here in 2011 and how some of these classes earlier in my tenure were put together opposed to how we're doing things now it's completely different. It starts with a couple of four year transfers back in September and you get 10 guys at mid-term and you get 13 guys today. We're not done and we'll continue to add to this class and we'll get there between now and August."
West Virginia can add a few more members to the class of 2017 and at multiple points during his press conference Holgorsen implied that the Mountaineers would do so. But Wednesday's focus was on the 21 recruits that the Mountaineers signed and the needs the Mountaineers filled. The two biggest needs were at the three safety positions and along the defensive line. Out of the 21 players who the Mountaineers signed, 10 were either along the D-line or listed as safeties.
"I think with this class (the biggest needs were) D-Line and safeties," Holgorsen said. "We lost all of those good senior defensive linemen and I think we got a couple of good defensive guys and we brought a couple of junior college guys that will help us immediately as well. Safety wise I think our starters will be as good as anywhere in the country with Dravon (Askew-Henry) coming back and Kyzir (White) and Toyous (Avery) finishing the season as good as he did. We just didn't have much behind them."
The hope is that a few of the six safeties that West Virginia signed will be able to avoid a redshirt and provide immediate depth for the Mountaineers. It sounded as if Holgorsen was high on the potential of Derrek Pitts and Kenny Robinson.
"At safety you have some flexibility," Holgorsen said. "We have a couple of kids like Derrek Pitts and Kenny Robinson who are both very long, athletic guys who can run and play corner. Some of these guys can grow into outside linebackers. We have already moved some safeties from last year to the linebacker room. You try to recruit as many of those guys as you can because they're flexible and they can move."
While Holgorsen fielded a variety of questions about the specific personnel of the 2017 class, he also talked a little bit about the shifting strategy for the Mountaineers as West Virginia is focusing more on jucos in recent years than in years past.
"We got seven (jucos) at mid-term," Holgorsen said. "Any time you an add those guys to a mid-term class and you're able to lift them and run them it helps get that roster where it needs to be towards August and that's our overall goal. Adding guys who are physically ahead of the curb is what junior college is all about. Getting them at mid-term allows us to get the team ready a little quicker. It's hard to play with freshmen. We liked the product we out our there last year an the only way to get it the same way is to keep building it the same way. I think we found our niche and I like the formula we use."