Of course, as head coach Bill Stewart reiterated in his Signing Day press conference, none of these guys have thrown a block, made a hit, thrown or caught a pass or gained a yard, so the final analysis of this recruiting class can't be definitively made.
However, one evaluation that can be performed, with some merit, is on the basis of needs met. Were does West Virginia have holes or depth issues in its current roster, and how well did this class meet them? Let's take a look.
Clearly, a big win here for West Virginia, as it nabbed Eugene Smith to power its revamped offense. The only question is one of depth, as the Mountaineers will enter spring with just three quarterbacks (Jarrett Brown, Coley White and Josh DePasquale) available for duty. It can scrape by there, but in the fall Smith will have to hit the ground running, and injuries must be avoided. It would have been nice to get a second signalcaller in the class, but that can be a difficult matter
Could it have been much better? WVU picks up a bevy of highly regarded runners of various skill sets. Tavon Austin can both run and catch, Daquan Hargrett is an underrated player due to the fact that he shared time with other talented players, and Shawne Alston and Chris Snook bring inside power running that the Mountaineers lacked. Snook can also swing out to the H-Back/tight end spot (WVU needs its own name for this role, by the way). Even though the Mountaineers have a good bit of talent in the backfield already, the suspicion is that some of these players will be on the field in 2009.
Some observers look at this group as a case of quantity over quality, but these are just the same sort of linemen that were molded into outstanding fronts over the past few seasons. West Virginia addressed its depth concerns with the five blockers in the class, and although there was a bit of disappointment that a late flip of Henry Orelus didn't materialize, that shouldn't detract from the group that did sign. The only question that remains is this: Can they be coached and worked into the modified offensive scheme to provide the room for some talented skill players to operate? Look for redshirts to drape Nick Kindler, Pat Eger, Jordan Weingart, Cole Bowers and Ryan Spiker in 2009, but they do provide some promise for the future. Having five linemen in the same class is a bit of an issue, but that's not a big concern. West Virginia filled out slots that it needed to fill while also grabbing the best offensive lineman in the state for the second year in a row.
Again, just about as good as it can get. The Mountaineers pick up immediate help in juco Terrance Moore, who can hopefully hit the ground running in 2009. It then adds a trio of talents in Logan Heastie, Deon Long and Stedman Bailey, who provide skills ranging from downfield threats to precise route running and workmanlike performance. While there won't be as many four wide sets in the offense this year, there will be opportunities for the freshmen to get on the field. Moore, of course, will be looked to for immediate help, but don't be surprised to see one or two of the others avoid the year out.
If Tevita Finau completes his coursework and makes it to WVU, then this class was a success. If not, then WVU came up a bit short in terms of meeting its numbers needs. Dominik Davenport and Curtis Feigt are very good pickups, and Davenport could blossom early in his career. Feigt is a great raw prospect, but it will take him a while to learn all the techniques necessary to compete on the college level. One positive is the fact that he won't have to unlearn a lot of bad habits, given his relative newness to the game. And his great physical attributes could make him into the edge rusher West Virginia so desperately needs. It would not be a surprise to see WVU grab one more player to fill out this class.
Even with the late sub of Taige Redman for Ka'Lial Glaud, who had the most bizarre decision-making process (a coin flip) since a receiver a few years ago chose Ohio State because they wear red shoes, WVU could possible have used another body at this position. Branko Busick is a tough-guy defender that fits Jeff Casteel's work-ethic mold, but the roster is a bit thin to depend on just two new players to bolster it for future seasons. Of course, every position coach wants more players, so there's always a spot that might appear to come up short a player or two. Next year, look for more numbers here. There's always the possibility that an ever-growing safety could move down to a backer spot.
There are no such questions at safety, where the Mountaineers grabbed the one-two-three combination of Jonathan Scott, Darwin Cook and Terence Garvin. Need range, length, speed and hitting ability? Check. This trio is perfectly suited to WVU's spur and bandit spots, where the goal is to get two interchangeable players that can defend against the run or the pass with equal ability. They're not stepping in and playing from day one, of course, but we could well be looking at the group that anchors those positions a couple of years from now.
West Virginia took the only hit of the recruiting class at this spot when Michael Carter bailed out. Again, the key is not to let the perception of that loss cloud the players who did sign. Pat Miller and Brodrick Jenkins are both very good prospects. They might turn out to be better than Carter. But for now, WVU is still left a bit thin at corner, and will have to lean more heavily on returning players, including juco Brantwon Bowser, to fill out depth issues. Miller or Jenkins will certainly get the chance to compete early, and could earn some time, but the loss of a third player to compete there was the one stinging blow of Signing Day.
None were signed, although walk-on placekicker Cameron Starke is already enrolled, and should provide a challenge for kicking duties. The concern is at punter, where Pat McAfee's departure leaves Scott Kozlowski as the sole player with experience. Another punter to provide competition would have been the best of all possible worlds, but its difficult to offer scholarships to kickers or punters every year, as there just aren't enough available to fill out the entire team. This isn't anything new, however. WVU has just been fortunate to have this area covered over the past few years.