Numbers Game

As football recruiting heads into its final week, the focus often shifts, at least partially, from needs to numbers.

With new rules covering the admission of props, as well as the 85/25 rule governing the number of scholarships in place, coaching staffs at just about every Division 1 school are crunching the permutations and combinations of their offers, commitments and needs.

Every school offers more scholarships than it can give, of course, because no school, not even USC, gets every player it offers. But as the last few prospects come down to the wire, there are more than a few sleepless nights for coaches that are trying to figure out how many commitments they can take before drawing the line.

Complicating matters, of course, is the new Big East policy barring non-qualifiers from being admitted to member schools, which means that coaches must now predict whether players will attain qualifying test scores and GPAs during their final semester of school. It all adds up to a mind-numbing array of possibilities.

With those caveats, however, there are some things we can deduce about West Virginia's current recruiting situation. Twelve recruits are currently in the fold, although not all of them have qualified or are fully committed to WVU. That leaves a few openings, and a lot of wiggle room, among the remaining positions to be recruited.

One other thing to remember, however, is that these numbers are certainly not cast in stone. If a great player at a position that is already "full" decided to sign with West Virginia, then room will certainly be made. Therefore, it's never cut and dried that WVU, or any school, is going to take X number of players at a current position. Just as fans debate the need of another offensive lineman versus another wide receiver, so do the coaches.

Wide Receiver: WVU figures to take two more players at this position, given the quality of talent available and the status of current commitment Sherman Lang. Latarrius Thomas and Wes Lyons are prospects that simply can't be passed up. Lang, should he come to WVU, could also be a very good defensive back prospect, which would ease the numbers at wideout.

Defensive Back: West Virginia will take at least one more player here, and perhaps two, due to the current qualifying status of one of its commitments. The Mountaineers have in-home visits on Tuesday with Brandon Heath, who can play corner, and also had an in-home with Pennsylvania standout Aaron Berry. Fellow Keystone Stater Elijah Fields is also in the picture, but qualifying is a question there as well.

Offensive Line: At least one more player is expected in the class, with juco J.D. Hamilton one of the top names on the board. West Virginia is still recruiting some other familiar names, and will also look to bolster its ranks with a couple of walkons.

Running Back: It's possible that a back could appear on the final list of signees, but it would likely be a player that would also be a prospect at another position.

Defensive Line: The plan for most of the recruiting season has been to take one player at this spot, preferably a pass-rushing end. Marcus Broxie, who visited last weekend, is one of the top candidates here. WVU will likely shuffle some of its returning linemen around to fill gaps in the depth chart, but the need for a game-turning edge rusher is always a priority.

Linebacker: While a speedy outsider backer with great pass cover skills wouldn't be turned down, it looks like this spot is well-stocked with returning veterans, rising youngsters and current verbal commitments. Never say never, but the ‘backer spots appear to be set.

Again, all this can change as quickly as you read it. For example, what happens if three highly regarded receivers say "yes"? Or if more outstanding line prospects want to come aboard? Those are the tough decision that must be made – ones that end up having a great effect on the makeup of the team.


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