Finishing the Class

West Virginia's anticipated 2008 football signing class probably isn't complete, even with the start of signing period just hours away.

As we await the revelation of the first day's signings, the thing to keep in mind is that there will be some "surprises" – but this year most of those are likely to come in a positive direction.

In past seasons, the drama came on Signing Day as coaches battled to keep commitments through the final hours before faxes can begin coming in at 7:00 a.m. Eastern. However, with the upheaval in and around the West Virginia program over the past couple months (not to mention some very negative recruiting tactics employed by other schools), it stands to reason that those players who have stayed with West Virginia to this point are likely to do so now.

There are, of course, a couple of players on the fence, as West Virginia awaits word from players such as Greg Shaw and Reggie Hunt, among others. However, WVU's known commits to date look fairly solid – or at least as solid as a high schooler's mind can be – going into Signing Day.

On the flip side, West Virginia has been recruiting several players and keeping those works under the radar, in the hopes of not arousing the interest of some schools that have been targeting WVU's efforts. From that pool of players, it would not be a surprise to see one or more emerge on the 2008 signing day list.

As we await the announced list, let's take a look at each of the positions on the team, the known signees, and what that might mean for the final class.


Coley White and J.J. Dorsey are solid to the Mountaineers, so there aren't likely to be any other commitments at this position. With Patrick White a senior, the competition will be open in 2009, with incumbent backup Jarrett Brown the obvious choice. Bradley Starks and Charlie Russell give this position depth.


If there's a tenet of any recruiting philosophy, it's that you can't have too many running backs. Terence Kerns makes this group a good one all by himself, but there is room for more in this class. A familiar name or two could pop up on the announced list on Wednesday afternoon – or perhaps even later. The player most are eyeing is White's teammate, Reggie Hunt, who committed to Auburn but now will decide between the Tigers and Mountaineers.


WVU switched from its previous philosophy of walk-ons at this position by getting verbal commitments from two players, Tyler Urban and Ryan Clarke, who hope to fill the giant shoes of Owen Schmitt. Former walk-on Max Anderson is also at this spot. It will certainly be interesting to see if the changes in Bill Stewart's approach to offense include using the tight end as anything other than a lead blocker for White and Noel Devine.


If there will be a late addition to the class, this is one spot where it might be expected. WVU's sole commitment here is J.D. Woods, and the Mountaineers simply must build more depth at this position. Floridian Ty Hilton will make his choice between WVU and Florida International, and the Mountaineers are certainly hopeful he chooses the higher competition that the Big East offers. At least one of several late targets, including some that did not make an official visit to Morgantown, could also be on the list. Bell Glade's Travis Benjamin and Eddie Poole are two names to watch.


Josh Jenkins, who is expected to announce for West Virginia at 9:00 AM, and Greg Shaw are the two remaining targets in this already solid group. Shaw's relatives in West Virginia could be the factor that tips him in the direction of WVU, but the race with LSE is a tight one. Joe Madsen and John Bassler are already in the fold, and Jenkins will make this group the most highly rated in the eyes of many analysts. Center Benji Kemoeatu is also an intriguing player to keep an eye on, but grades may be an issue.


The most powerful group in terms of numbers, and the one that best addresses the needs of WVU. Tevita Finau, Jorge Wright, D. J. Shaw, Bernard Smith, Corey Freeman, Chris Palmer, Larry Ford and Jeff Braun give the Mountaineers the numbers they need to rebuild the defensive line. It's unlikely that another name will be added to this already fine group, which will be underrated by many due to its lack of size. However, the group, with its range of skills, should be a good fit for WVU's defensive scheme.


Longtime commit Donovan Miles anchors the field here, but there could be room for another name on the list. The most likely candidate is Jatavious Miller, who would provide a nice outside speed complement to the strength and power of Miles. If Miller comes aboard, call this effort a nice success.


With jucos Courtney Stuart and Brantwon Bowser already in the fold, WVU got immediate help for its graduation-depleted secondary. It hopes to add to those numbers with Robert Sands and Leonard Johnson, both of whom are strongly considering West Virginia. Former commitment Jerome Swinton, who was reportedly off West Virginia's commitment list, was reported by the Charleston Gazette as a probable signee today. If two of these three players commit, West Virginia will have an excellent base of players with which to rebuild.


Kicker Tyler Bitancurt is this year's lone specialist in the class. West Virginia is not expected to bring in any other kickers on scholarship, although walk-ons are always a possibility.

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