Wednesday was National Signing Day, and the start of the early signing period for the recruiting class of 2022.
Neal Brown says he’s excited about this year’s class, adding that he and his staff tried to address overall team needs, and not just a few positions.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Brown’s press conference Wednesday.
Still room for more
The head coach put it simply: “We’re not done yet.”
Brown says that this class will be made up of up to 32 players. That’s possible due to a one-year rule change by the NCAA, that’s allowing up to 25 high school scholarships and seven incoming transfers in this year’s recruiting class.
Brown aims to meet those numbers with this incoming group of players.
“We still have some needs that we haven’t addressed yet,” he added.
As it currently stands, the class is officially made up of 21 players — 19 high school players and two transfers.
The head coach also says he hopes that WVU will be close to 85 scholarship players when next season rolls around.
“This is going to be the highest number of scholarship players that we’ll have during the season,” Brown said. “I do feel confident in that.”
Individual thoughts and analysis
Brown gave some analysis on some of the individuals that will be suiting up for WVU beginning next fall.
Here are some of his thoughts on just some of the newest Mountaineers.
Nicco Marchiol: “He’s got some it factor. I think he’s a guy that’s going to be a fan-favorite from day one,” Brown said. “He’s been groomed from an early age by his father, Ken, to be a Division-I, and hopefully an NFL quarterback”. Marchiol is a dual-threat, he’s left handed quarterback, who Brown described as a physical runner.
Corbin Page: “He’s a guy that has a variety of skills at that tight end position,” Brown said. “We felt like Corbin was the top prospect in the state this year.”
Lee Kpogba: “We were able to add an older guy in Lee, who we feel like can come in and compete right away.”
Oliver Straw: “We needed a punter, and we went all the way to Australia to find one,” Brown said. “He’s unique. He can kick both feet. He can roll to his right, he can roll to his left.”
Zeiqui Lawton: “A guy that can definitely play,” Brown said. “He’s changed his body. I think he’s a really good fit for what we’re going to do on the interior defensive line.”
Recruiting is a program-wide job
Brown began his time with the media on Wednesday by thanking all of the staff that puts in work behind the scenes when it comes to recruiting.
Of course, assistant coaches do a lot of the legwork on the recruiting trail, and Brown visits or watches recruits in-person when he can — but a lot of the work that gets recruits to Morgantown is done behind the scenes.
“The recruiting staff, whether it’s [Associate Director of Football Operations] Katie Giusto and our on-campus recruiting staff; whether it’s [Director of Recruiting] Scott Gasper and [Associate Recruiting Director] Trey Neyer, and their GAs, and their team of interns that are really part of the initial evaluation process,” Brown said. “Then our creative [staff], you know graphics, those take time, those take effort. The videos that we produce. And then our support staff.”
As you can see, it’s not just one or two people that help get these recruits to choose West Virginia.
“This class, which we’re very very proud of, it’s the culmination of a lot of people’s work,” Brown said.
Brown is proponent of early signing period
Much has been written on the early signing period over the past few weeks. There’s been plenty of reaction surrounding the early signing day, due in part to the slew of head coaching changes across the country — many of which have been attributed, whether fairly or unfairly, to the existence of the early signing period.
For as many are currently saying it should go away, Brown says he’s a proponent of the early signing period.
“I don’t believe all the early coaching changes, and coaching upheaval, I don’t think it had anything to do with the early signing period,” Brown said.
Brown did add that the recruiting calendar, as a whole, could and should be revisited.
Brown discussed how he goes about attempting to fill his roster, while also remaining flexible on numbers and roster spots at each position.
It’s a tricky, inexact science in this day and age of college football.
“You always got to hold some open spots. I think that’s the starting point,” Brown said.
Brown still has a cap on the number of players at a position at some positions that he would like to hit each year, but believes that the likelihood of meeting those caps each season is, “In the past, unless the rules change.”
How does that work now?
“I think what you do, is you kind of have a minimum number that you have to be at. That’s what you got to maintain,” Brown said. “And then you got to have the scholarship availability, where if something happens you do an initial [spot] where you can go fill that immediate need.”
He added that the transfer portal is a way to help build a roster, or fill in holes at a position group. It’s something that, Brown ays, he and West Virginia will continue to use.