Neal Brown took over West Virginia football before the 2019 season, inheriting a football program in flux after incumbent head coach Dana Holgorsen left for the University of Houston.
After a 5-7 debut season in 2019, Brown and WVU went 6-4 last season, capped off by a win in the Liberty Bowl over Army. With one of the strongest recruiting classes in years beginning to take shape, Brown is beginning to construct a team he feels can compete in the Big 12.
One of those top recruits is 2022 Arizona 4-star quarterback Nicco Marchiol who committed to WVU Monday afternoon. Marchiol (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) plays high school football at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona, having moved from Denver, Colorado after his sophomore year.
Picking WVU over Arizona State and Michigan State Monday, Marchiol narrowed down his 27 offers until WVU was able to secure his commitment. He originally committed to Florida State earlier this year, but when he re-opened his recruiting process in June, the Mountaineers were quick to strike — WVU made sure to get in early even, offering him while he was still committed.
Hamilton QB and Florida State commit @MarchiolNicco drops a bomb into the arms of 2022 WR @c_anaya24 in today’s showcase. Anaya already holds a D1 offer from N. Colorado, good size and speed out of his breaks. 11.06 100 M dash on the track this spring @michaelzdebski pic.twitter.com/Use1P15n7M
— Cody Cameron (@CodyTCameron) May 20, 2021
Cody Cameron, a recruiting analyst for Rivals’ DevilsDigest.com, has followed Marchiol’s career since arriving from Colorado. He said it wasn’t really a surprise seeing Marchiol wind up committing for Brown and WVU, noting that the Mountaineers have done all the right things in attempting to bring Marchiol to Morgantown.
“We had a lot of people here who thought he was an ASU lean and might’ve committed to the Sun Devils today,” Cameron told WVSN. “But when you look at the scheme of the recruiting, I look at what the West Virginia coaching staff did and pretty much laid the red carpet out for him and said, ‘hey, we want you to be the guy. we have a pretty attractive quarterback room in terms of you could come in here in fall of 2022 and make an impact right away.'”
So, what kind of recruit is WVU getting in Marchiol? According to Cameron, “a very special young man.”
Hamilton 4-Star QB @MarchiolNicco threads the needle on a few passes during today’s showcase. First pass connects with 2022 WR @Quentin__Ross, 2nd to 2023 WR @SlatonPreston04. Talented WR prospects with big frames for the Huskies @michaelzdebski pic.twitter.com/9Qp08Wj9jF
— Cody Cameron (@CodyTCameron) May 20, 2021
“What’s interesting is he’s listed as a pro-style quarterback, and you typically see a lot those guys, they like to stay in between the tackles, but he’s got a dual-threat ability,” Cameron said. “He’s got a large, athletic frame, and he is not a small kid. He’s tough as nails, and his ability to pick up yardage with his legs — and his throwing motion is really clean, he’s precise, he can make all the throws — but that added dual-threat ability separates him from a lot of the quarterbacks I’ve seen.”
While playing at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, Marchiol’s level of competition wasn’t weak, but in moving to Hamilton, he instantly joined the top conference in Arizona. Facing off against schools like Chandler High School, the fifth-ranked team in the country last season according to MaxPreps, and Saguaro High School, which Cameron said is littered with Division I prospects, Marchiol led Hamilton to an 8-2 record — the only losses coming against Chandler.
Cameron said it was a big step for Marchiol to take, but he watched him grow — seeing improvement each week.
— Jake Nichols (@jnichols_2121) May 16, 2021
“When you look at improving, you could always improve at mechanics, but that’s something that he’s done every single day in the offseason,” Cameron said. “If you talk to his high school coaches, he said they can’t stop him from throwing. He is there every single day throwing with his receivers.”
Aside from his on-field prowess, throwing for 1,417 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushing for 535 yards and six more touchdowns in eight games, Cameron was perhaps most impressed by the way Marchiol was able to build lasting bonds so quickly with his new teammates — especially in such a difficult scenario.
Moving to a new team, in the middle of a pandemic, Marchiol didn’t have the traditional offseason or even in-season experience. Yet he was still able to connect with his wide receivers, establishing patterns and fostering that chemistry. Cameron felt that his Hamilton teammates really trusted him, especially his wide receivers and running backs.
While Marchiol has flashed his vast potential, in the air and on the ground, like any high school quarterback, he does still have room to grow and things to clean up.
— Clint Brewster (@clintbrew247) May 16, 2021
“The areas of weakness, in terms of when you talk about a high school quarterback, are mechanics, staring down one receiver, really transitioning on your read, and maybe working on your footwork, every kid can improve on that,” Cameron said. “Nicco is a kid who sees that and puts in the work and effort every single day to make that improvement.”
However, when arriving in Morgantown, Cameron said there is nothing Marchiol won’t be able to do. Nothing will be new for him since he’s already done it all. The guys around him will be bigger and faster, but Marchiol will be bigger and faster, too.
“His upside, watching his Hamilton film and just what Hamilton does offensively, they have multiple sets,” Cameron said. “They have a wide variety of passing sets and formations that they do offensively, and they’re a play-action team, they’re an RPO team and they also are under center. So, Nicco is doing everything right now.”
Cameron feels confident that Marchiol will make an impact in either his first or second year in Morgantown, depending on whether he redshirts. And Marchiol is the kind of player to truly make an impact on games.
“You want the ball in his hands 40 to 50 times, especially in this new era of RPO game offensively, and you look at the Big 12, it’s a conference that scores a ton of points,” Cameron said. “Nicco is going to be able to do that; he’s gonna put them in a situation offensively where they’re gonna have the ability to score every single drive, he’s that talented as a kid.”
There isn’t a comparison that Cameron felt for Marchiol, not liking to project high school prospects to NFL players as the comparison isn’t really fair as just 1% of college kids actually make the NFL, but his tools make him a very intriguing player.
“The lefty spin that he has, and just the tightness in his release, is really special,” Cameron said. “It’s explosive out of the arm.”
With a hard-throwing left arm, the ability to burn defense with his legs and the ability to connect with his teammates, Marchiol appears to be the complete package for WVU. He’s active off the field, Cameron said, doing a lot of work around the community.
WVU picked up a special young man who could make an instant impact for the Mountaineers very soon.