As college football teams around the country sign upwards of 20 new recruits during the early signing period Wednesday, West Virginia is expected to add just 16.
Talking with the media Wednesday afternoon, WVU coach Neal Brown said signing a smaller class during the early signing period was intentional. Because of the recruiting changes brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic and the new one-time transfer rule going into place, Brown and his staff thought the best course of action would be to keep the number of signees down during this early period.
“As we [put the class together], the one-time transfer rule was going through and we just felt the best way to continue to build our program, rather than reaching for guys or signing guys we weren’t real sure who they were or what they’re about, was to keep the number low,” Brown said. “And I’m still proud of the group that we got if you look at quality.”
With five or six open scholarships left on the roster, Brown said WVU is planning to be aggressive in adding more high school recruits and especially transfer players before the spring.
“Our initial plan when we started building this class back in January of ’19, we felt like this could be a class we could really make a splash nationally,” Brown said. “That was before the transfer rule went into place.”
Brown said the in-person recruiting restrictions the NCAA enacted this year put WVU at a disadvantage in not being able to bring recruits to campus. Because of this, Brown explained that instead of reaching for players they might not sign or going after players they do not know much about, WVU’s staff opted to go with a smaller class this winter.
“The one thing we’re really missing is, we’re really able to make a significant difference and gain momentum on guys when they come on campus,” Brown explained. “A lot of time what they see is better than what they expect and then they’re able to feel, whether they’re at a home football game or a home basketball game, the real presence of our fan base. So when you take out the ability to come here and experience our fan base, that was something that was detrimental to our class as far as being able to touch some guys that maybe hadn’t been here before. As we started going through the difficulties of the pandemic, and kudos to our group but there are some things that you just can’t do virtually and you can do in person.”
Despite a lower-than-average number of signees, Brown insisted that WVU got a number of high-quality recruits signed on Wednesday. He said WVU would rank up there with any other Big 12 school if evaluated based on quality and not quantity. WVU’s highest-rated recruits were in-state standout offensive tackle Wyatt Milum from Spring Valley and wide receiver Kaden Prather from Montgomery Village, Maryland.