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Carney: WVU Still Has Strong Class Despite De-Commitments

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The de-commitments of Jeter and Jackson are a sting to the class of 2023, but the loss of either doesn’t change what is expected to remain as a strong class for WVU.

This is not a knock on Jeter or Jackson. Both are three-star recruits and should be solid collegiate players at the next level. But neither where guaranteed to be a difference-maker at WVU. Hell, the likelihood of Jeter seeing little playing time over 2022 four-star quarterback Nicco Marchiol was probably a factor in his de-commitment.

And the reality is, this stuff does happen. Programs tend to lose a few recruits, especially those who commit extremely early like Jeter and Jackson did. It’s normal for a program to have, what I’ve counted, three de-commitments in a recruit cycle. Remember cornerback Cameron Calhoun de-committed a few months ago as well.

And that’s normal. What’s also normal, is to expect a drop in the rankings. 247Sports has officially dropped WVU from their top 25 and they now sit 28th. A drop in the class rankings was to be expected even without the de-commitments. The class was rated highly, due to quantity compared to the other programs.

Right now, even after the two losses dropped their class to 16 total recruits, there are only eight programs with lower rated recruiting classes and more recruits. Hell Duke was a team that jumped WVU, and they have 25 three-star recruits, no four or five-stars.

There are 13 current programs with two or more four-star recruits ranked lower than WVU because they have less total recruits. Some have a bunch like No. 69 Auburn (five), No. 46 Florida State (five), No. 33 Michigan (five), No. 31 Stanford (six), No. 41 Texas A&M (six four-stars and a five star) and No. 60 UCF (Four). Those all will jump WVU at some point.

I’ve been saying for awhile now that the class of 2023 wasn’t going to end up as the highest rated class in WVU history, which is currently No. 24. I never meant that as an insult to the class, but more of the reality. Using 247Sports’ ratings, classes with only one four-star recruit, in this case Rodney Gallagher, do not find themselves in the top 25 when things are all said and done.

This year, every class in the top 45 had at least two four-star recruits. In 2021, each of the top 39 classes had at least two. In 2020 the top 34 teams each had more than one four-star recruit. In 2019 you had to go to Virginia’s class at No. 39 to find the highest rated class with only one four-star recruit. You get the picture.

The team doesn’t need a highly rated recruiting class. It just doesn’t. It’s more likely to finish in the 30s than anywhere near the top 25, let alone the highest rated class in program history, and that’s okay.

Because what the program will succeed with is a bunch of three-star recruits who commit themselves and buy in to the program. It’s how similarly sized programs have found success while not having a top 25 class.

Iowa State has been one of the top programs in the Big 12 under Matt Campbell. His highest rated recruiting class is this year’s No. 39 ranking. He’s only ever had two classes higher ranked than WVU.

Cincinnati was just in the College Football Playoff and put up a fight against Alabama. Head coach Matt Campbell’s highest rated class is this year’s No. 42. He’s never had a class ranked higher than a WVU class.

Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi just won a power-five conference with a Heisman candidate quarterback in Kenny Pickett that was a three-star recruit. His team is a dark horse to make the College Football Playoff this year. His highest rated class is 2021’s No. 29 ranking. He’s only had two classes ranked higher than a WVU class.

Even WVU historically has not been a team to win due to highly rated recruiting classes. Their highest rated class is No. 24, that’s not high when looking at an all-time best. And they’ve only cracked the top 25 twice.

Point is, this WVU class is a good class, but that doesn’t mean it will reflect in the rankings. What WVU needs is players to buy in to their program and you’re more likely to get that from three-stars looking to prove themselves than highly rated prospects looking for the quickest path to the NFL.

And this class has that, even with the negative feelings surrounding two de-commitments, this is still a class clearly excited to be at WVU. The main problem during head coach Neal Brown’s tenure is losing more players to transfer than any other power-five school.

You don’t lose those players if they want to be at WVU. It’s again why schools like Cincinnati, Iowa State and Pittsburgh have had success. They’ve built a winning culture on the backs of three stars wanting to prove themselves and bought in to that type of culture.

And it’s why this class, no matter where it ends up in the rankings, is still a great class.

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