The Numbers Game

With injuries and defections beleaguering West Virginia's football team throughout the year and the team playing with a number of scholarship players that only schools on probation can sympathize with, we have decided to play the numbers game in regards to scholarships, recruiting numbers and possible situations that could arise for the upcoming off-season.

What is apparent is the number of returning players on scholarship, as of now, is 52 plus or minus one, considering the status of a couple of players. For instance, wide receiver Jermaine Thaxton's future in the program is up in the air, and there are other players such as Quincy Wilson considering transfers.

For argument's sake, we'll start with 52. Take that number and add, in all probability, three more scholarships to walk-ons Scott Gyorko, Bo Graham and Scott Fleming. That pushes the number to 55 out of the maximum 85.

WVU recruiting coordinator Herb Hand has said that the Mountaineers would likely take five to six players, be it JUCO or Prep School that can come in and enroll in January. By doing this, WVU can add these players to last year's crop of 16 signees and not have to use any of the allotted 25 slots that can be filled in February.

The Mountaineers already have two verbal commitments that plan to enroll in January - safety Dwayne Mundle and wide receiver Durrell Weekly. If the Mountaineers were to get the six players to do this that they desire, that would then push the number to 61.

Two players that are assured to add to the number are Kelvin Dubouse and Brown Faavae. They are currently enrolled in school and will count towards the February signing total. The two players are in the same situation that current seniors Antwan Lake and Corey McIntyre were in when they began their careers. They have four years to play three seasons of football, but if they graduate by the spring of their fourth year in school then they earn a fifth year in school and a fourth year of football.

Adding Dubouse and Faavae pushes the number to 63 scholarship players, and drops the number of players the Mountaineers can sign to 23 during the February signing period.

Although the 63 number plus 23 exceeds the 85 limit, WVU will most assuredly go after 23 verbal commitments before the signing period since more defections seem forthcoming. Also, academic situations always seem to arise at the end of the semester and some attrition, be it forced or not, may occur at that time.

The number may be even greater than 25, since any non-qualifiers would not count against the coming year's total, just as Dubouse and Faavae don't count against last year's.

While the numbers may add up to 85 in February, who fills those is obviously the most important aspect for the football team to succeed.

Here's a breakdown of who is back and then, who could and should be here in the recruiting game. Not of all the returning player slisted are on scholarship.


QB (2) - Rasheed Marshall, Danny Embick
RB (3) - Avon Cobourne, Quincy Wilson, Cassell Smith
FB (2) - Moe Fofana, Hikee Johnson
WR (7) - Phil Braxton, A.J. Nastasi, Michael Page, Miquelle Henderson, Derek Jones, Dee Alston, Jermaine Thaxton
TE (3) - Tory Johnson, Ryan Thomas, Josh Bailey
OL (12) - Tim Brown, Jeff Berk, Geoff Lewis, Zach Dillow, Lance Nimmo, Ken Sandor, Ben Timmons, Rod Olds, Justin Williams, Josh Stewart, Garin Justice, Travis Garrett
DT (6) - David Upchurch, Jason Davis, Sedrick Lewis, Ben Lynch, Ernest Hunter, Matt Ameri
DE (5) - James Davis, Kevin Freeman, Tim Love, Alex Lake, Kelvin Dubouse
LB (7) - Grant Wiley, Angel Estrada, Adam Lehnortt, Ben Collins, Shane Graham, Quentin Swain, Scott Gyorko
CB (4) - Lance Frazier, Brian King, Lewis Daniels, Anthony Mims
S (3) - Jahmile Addae, Arthur Harrison, Brown Faavae

Recruits - Needs by position

QB - 1-2, one JUCO and one High School QB is likely. Primary targets include Troy Smith (Cleveland); David Overstreet (Dallas); Cedric Stevens (Butler, Kan., C.C.).

RB - 3-4, WVU is in on a ton of talent here, some could be moved elsewhere. John Scott - verbal - (Zanesville, OH); Vincent Meeks - verbal - (Rockwall, TX); DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati); Tank Tunstalle (New Richmond, WV); Greg Pruitt, Jr. (Shaker Heights, OH); Erick Phillips (Hilliard, OH).

FB - 1, only one will be taken and they've got him. Kevin McLee - verbal - (Uniontown, PA).

WR - 5, probably two to three JUCO's here. J.T. Perry - verbal - (Allen, TX); Durrell Weekly - verbal - (Pearl River, Miss., C.C.); Broderic Jones (Ennis, TX); Durrell Robinson (Northwest Mississippi C.C.); Kenneth Tookes (Jacksonville, FL); Charlie Vample (Cincinnati); Brendan Hill (Newport News, VA); James Terry (Butler, Kan., C.C.).

TE - 1-2, Serena will probably be the only one WVU will get. Adam Serena (Pittsburgh); John Doucette (New Orleans); Nathan Forse (Pittsburgh).

OL - 3, going after some good prospects at this position. They can be a little selective after getting four commits last year. Dan Mozes - verbal - (Washington, PA); Roman Fry (Ironton, OH); Chris Triplett (Laurel, MS).

DT - 2-3, JUCO help is really needed on the D-line. Jermaine Berry (Butler, Kan., C.C.); Rick McDole (Marysville, OH); Other JUCO names are sure to come to the forefront in the next few weeks.

DE - 1-2, Depth is badly needed here and a JUCO would help solidify the rush end spot opposite James Davis. Tory Collins - verbal - (Fortier, LA); Darel Slay (Holmes, Miss., C.C.).

LB - 3-4, Speed is needed here, badly, and they are going after some quick ones. Taylor Owenby - verbal - (Cumming, GA); Kevin Flood (Dallas); Charles Sallet (Seffner, FL); Kellen Tillman (Plano, TX); Pagitte McGee (Tyler, TX).

CB - 2-3, Depth is not very good in the defensive backfield right now. The staff went after some good JUCO's here last year and lost out. Tywan Napper - verbal - (Clairton, PA); T.J. Rushing (Paul's Valley, OK); Nate Wright (Charleston, WV); Larry McClain (Fork Union, Va., Military Academy).

S - 3-4, serious help needed here but two commits already and Meeks and a couple others could play here as well. Dwayne Mundle - verbal - (Toronto, Ont.); Carl Ferrell - verbal - (Uniontown, PA); Anthony Smith (Hubbard, OH); Vickiel Vaughn (Plano, TX); Nic Luke (Phenix City, AL).

The biggest thing, in my opinion, that WVU needs right now is a difference maker at nearly every spot on the defense. For example, a linebacker like Flood, who can make the aggressive style of this defense work with his speed and instincts.

Rick Sherrod made it obvious that a big-hitting safety is a necessity to clean up any mess the front seven may make and Vaughn would fit that mold perfectly. Faavae will probably be given a chance and considering the accolades he came here with, he should produce. JUCO's at the defensive end and defensive tackle spots are a necessity to help revamp those positions. Slay and Berry would be perfect fits.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Mountaineers are progressing nicely. They have huge interest at the running back spot and at receiver; Weekly and Perry should have instant impacts. If Robinson, considered possibly the best JUCO prospect in the nation, were to commit, the receiver corps would have a complete and much-needed makeover.

At the quarterback position, it would be nice to get a Troy Smith but with Embick and Marshall being so young, it is not a 'must' position for another year.

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