Class Builders

West Virginia deferred some of last year's recruits to this class. Here's a look at the other players – some already in the program – who will contribute to the Mountaineers this spring and fall.

NCAA rules mandate that no more than 25 players be brought in in any one recruiting class. Despite already being enrolled, Jet Best is one two running backs already in school that will count in this class. The two-star Palm Beach Lakes high grad attended Milford Academy in New Berlin, NY and before starting academically at WVU this fall.

Best was the Palm Beach Post Offensive Player of the Year, rushing for 802 yards on 97 carries and nine touchdowns in a hurricane-shortened seven-game season. He also caught 20 passes for 317 yards. He was the teammate of current Mountaineer quarterback Jarrett Brown, and can also play slot wideout or defensive back. He will likely start on offense.

Ed Collington rushed for 1,700 yards on 193 carries despite missing three games due to injury as a senior at Penn Hills High (Pa.). Collington, a three-star recruit, was selected to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fab 22" team, he also earned 1st Team All-Conference honors. He is fully recovered from a separated shoulder suffered his junior high school season and has solid speed (4.5 40) and the ability to kick into gear that coaches love. He was rated the 36th-best back by out of high school.

WVU's other back, Scooter Berry, attended WVU in the fall and will begin practice this spring. The half-brother of former Mountaineer tailback Jason Gwaltney, Berry was a greyshirt. He could play fullback or along the defensive line and loves contact. The two were far from a package deal, as Berry selected WVU first, might have been a feature back on many other prep teams, and has put in the time and academic effort to start his on-field career. He also recovered from a torn ACL suffered at the end of high school.

West Virginia also inked Selvish Capers, a 280-pound tight end who will probably play tackle. He was listed at 245 pounds out of high school, so it seems a slide one position over along the line is warranted. The 6-5 Capers has long arms and can squat 615 pounds. He was recruited by running backs coach Calvin Magee, also a native of New Orleans. He had BCS offers from Arkansas and Mississippi.

The four defensive players to sign last year or before were Carmen Connolly, Thor Merrow, Trippe Hale and Barry Wright. Merrow and Wright are slated as ends, and Merrow can also long snap.

Wright, a three-star player, transferred from Florida State. He redshirted in 2002 at Coffeyville Community College and will have one year to play at West Virginia. Merrow, a 6-1, 235-pounder, greyshirted last season and has just now begun working with the team. His father, Jeff, played defensive tackle at WVU, but had not been on campus since 1989 prior to Merrow's recruitment and visit. He played professionally for the Falcons in the 1970s and 80s. He was drafted as Atlanta's 11th pick in 1975 after playing for coach Bobby Bowden.

Merrow's 6-1 height was a concern for many teams, like the University of Georgia, but did not faze WVU. Ball State and Kent State also offered. His physicality and toughness are considered his best traits.

Free safety Trippe Hale originally verballed to East Carolina before switching it to West Virginia. He had 86 tackles and four picks as a senior at St. Paul's Episcopal in Mobile, Alabama. He is another greyshirt.

The final addition is another defensive back and Pennsylvania player. Seton-LaSalle wideout Carmen Connolly set a state single-season record for receptions with 116. He tallied 1,588 yards and 15 scores as a senior. Seton LaSalle won the WPIAL AA title and the 6-2, 183-pounder had career totals of 221 receptions, 3,020 yards and 31 TDs. He also had 1,092 yards rushing with 10 touchdowns.

Conolly, who runs a 4.6 40, will start on the defense, where he is considered to have more of an upside and where most teams projected him as a collegiate player. West Virginia was the only major conference school to offer him. Bowling Green, Florida Atlantic, Toledo, Kent State, Ohio University and Richmond also extended scholarship offers.

Those eight players will join the 15 signed by WVU on Feb. 1. West Virginia has not come close to using all its allotted official visits and so could host a few more players. Scholarships, however, are very tight (85 max limit) and so other players will be signed only if players that are currently here leave. That listing of 23 players makes the class considerably bigger, an aspect lost on national signing day.

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