On his first national signing day at West Virginia, head coach Neal Brown left no doubt on his opinion of the DMV as a recruiting hotbed.
“The DMV, that’s one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the entire country,” Brown said back in December. “We’ve got to have a stronger presence in there. Going in there with a short amount of time, I thought we did a pretty good job. I’m really excited about the guys we brought out of there.”
Brown said this right after officially signing 18 players his 2020 recruiting class, which included Maryland natives David Vincent-Okoli and Jordan White. The DMV is the tri-state area of Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Again for the 2021 class, Brown has been aggressively recruiting the DMV area. According to 247Sports’s database, Brown has offered two players out of DC, 16 from Virginia and 24 from Maryland. Until today, Brown had not yet gotten a 2021 commitment from the area.
The first domino to fall for WVU was wide receiver Kaden Prather, who announced his commitment to West Virginia earlier today. With 39 scholarship offers, Prather is one of the hottest Maryland recruits in the 2021 class. His commitment can make WVU a real player in the area.
Prather is also active on social media with a number of Maryland’s other top recruits, including four-star receivers Dont’e Thornton and Jalil Farooq and safety Zakee Wheatley.
— “The Real Joker🃏🤷🏽♂️” (@IamDTJ11) April 7, 2020
Thornton, Farooq and Wheatley all also hold offers from WVU, although Wheatley has already committed to Penn State and Thornton does not have WVU in his top-six.
In Prather’s commitment, West Virginia had another big victory in the DMV other than just getting a talented recruit, Brown and co. beat out a number of other big programs to get Prather.
On April 4, Prather released his top-five schools. A list that included WVU, Big 12 rival Oklahoma, South Carolina and DMV powerhouses Penn State and Maryland. To beat out all of those school for a prospect of Prather’s caliber is a good sign for WVU’s future in the area.
Penn State especially will be a big hurdle for WVU to overcome in the DMV. James Franklin appears to recruit the DMV as well as any coach in the county. In last year’s class, Franklin pulled nine recruits out of the area, four from Virginia and Maryland each and one from DC.
In the DMV last year, Franklin went 5-0 against Brown over recruits both had offered. PSU signed Curtis Jacobs, Golden Israel-Achumba, Jimmy Christ, Joseph Johnson and KeAndre Lambert, who all also had West Virginia offers. Meanwhile WVU didn’t get a single commitment from a DMV player that was also a Penn State target.
Franklin is again finding success in the area this year. He already has three commitments from Maryland players, the aforementioned Wheatley as well as quarterback Christian Veilleux and tackle Landon Tengwall. All three also held offers from West Virginia, but now Brown has at least one of Franklin with Prather’s commitment.
Through his 2021 recruiting, we have already seen Brown put a large focus on in-state recruiting. We have also seen him start to take on Pitt and Pat Narduzzi for recruits in Ohio and Western Pa and now he’s going into the DMV to challenge Franklin’s turf.
With the Backyard Brawl returning in 2022 and the WVU-PSU rivalry coming back in 2023, Mountaineer football games might start being full of familiar faces on both sides.