In arguably the biggest recruiting coup for new head coach Bill Stewart, Parkersburg High's Josh Jenkins confirmed he will play for the Mountaineers next season via an official grant-in-aid from the university. Jenkins, a 6-3, 303-pounder, had offers from virtually every school in the nation. His final list included WVU, Ohio State and Florida State; a late push from former Mountaineer line coach Rick Trickett helped the Seminoles.
"I think it is a great hire and all the kids like him," Jenkins said of Stewart's hire after the Mountaineers defeated Oklahoma 48-28 in the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl. "I could see myself playing for Stewart. I wouldn't be saying that if they hired Butch Jones. Coach Stewart takes pride in the program and he is a great recruiter. He is a great person. He is very down to earth and we like each other a lot."
West Virginia was an early verbal for Jenkins, who then switched his commitment to a "soft verbal," a recent lingo development in recruiting that is akin to being very open and agreeable to additional recruiting pulls. He took all five official visits, then narrowed the list to three, with a very strong lean to Ohio State and WVU. The Mountaineers were apparently helped during official in-home visits by new assistant Doc Holliday, considered among the nation's top recruiters. Jenkins is expected to compete immediately for playing time. He was a three-time first-team all-state pick for the Big Reds, who won Class AAA state championships in 2006 and '07.
"I felt like the WVU coaches were genuine people," Jenkins said. "I really liked the old staff and I wasn't sure who'd be taking over. When they hired Stewart, Doc Holliday and Dave Johnson I became more interested. Dave Johnson is a very good coach and I know he can prepare me for the next level."
A Scout.com five-star offensive guard, Jenkins is listed as having great explosion, footwork and technique, though he doesn't set well in pass protection. Jenkins is "a dominant run blocker. He is very quick off the snap. He has a very solid punch and locks on often driving defenders five-to-ten yards off the line of scrimmage. Jenkins is very agile and athletic for his size. He is exceptional when pulling and in space. Needs to work on his slide when in pass protection, but that will come with experience. At times he drops too deep in pass pro, instead of attacking."
Jenkins, who recorded 82 tackles, four sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries last season, will look to work into a line that returns every starter. He runs a 5.27 second 40-yard dash and a 4.60 short shuttle. His vertical jump is 28 inches.
Fellow Parkersburg athlete Michael Pitrolo, a soccer player, also signaled his intent to officially sign with WVU at Jenkins' conference. Pitrolo is a two-time first-team all-state player for the Big Reds, who won Class AAA state championships in 2005 and '06 before losing in the quarterfinals this year. Pitrolo, a 6-1, 160-pounder, scored the game-winning goal in the 2005 state title game. Pitrolo also had interest from a number of other programs, but chose to attend the same school as his father Bob, a manager for WVU's football team in the 1970s, and his mother, Joyce, and paternal grandparents, among others.
"I've always wanted to go to West Virginia," Pitrolo said. "Easy decision."
Pitrolo joins Chase Dewese (sophomore midfielder, Beckley, W.Va.) and Adam Batty (freshman goal keeper, Charleston, W.Va.) as the lone state natives on West Virginia's roster. The Mountaineers went 14-6-2 last season, losing to eventual national champion Wake Forest in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.