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WVU’s Neal Brown Bets Big on Buckeye State with Five New Signees from Ohio



Neal Brown
(WVU Athletics/Ben Queen-USA Today)

Across his two recruiting classes with West Virginia, football coach Neal Brown has talked about his strategy of controlling the area within a six-hour radius of Morgantown. That area contains one of the most talent-rich, and recruiting-competitive states in the nation with Ohio.

“It makes geographical sense,” Brown said during his signing day press conference Wednesday. “What we’re trying to do is, within a six-hour of radius, do a really thorough job. We signed a great player from here in state, we signed a great player from the DMV area and then we signed guys from Ohio that we think have tremendous potential.”

A renewed push in the Buckeye State from Brown and his staff this recruiting cycle resulted in the most Ohio recruits WVU has signed in years. During the early signing period Wednesday, the Mountaineers signed running back Jaylen Anderson, defensive back Andrew Wilson-Lamp, offensive lineman Tomas Rimac, defensive end Hammond Russell and tight end Treylan Daivs.

None of these recruits came easily for Brown as all held multiple other scholarship offers from power five schools. In total, WVU offered 27 players in Ohio scholarships and was able to sign those five.

“You’re going to have to win some battles when you go there because it’s recruited by the Big Ten, it’s recruited by Iowa State and we won our fair share,” Brown said. “You don’t win all your battles. I don’t care what logo you’re wearing you don’t win all of them. But we won a good percentage in the state of Ohio and we’ve got to continue to do that.”

Five signees from Ohio is the most West Virginia has had in a single recruiting class since 2016. In 2020 WVU made 24 offers and signed zero. In 2019 WVU made 21 offers and only signed defensive lineman Jalen Thornton. In 2018 WVU offered 24 players and signed offensive lineman Blaine Scott and linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo. And in 2017 WVU offered19 players and did not sign a single one.

The 2016 class had21 offers and WVU signed seven of them. Offensive lineman Josh Sills, defensive end Jeffery Poolers Jr., linebacker Brendan Ferns, center Adam Hensley, linebacker Zach Sandwisch, safety Sean Manhone and cornerback Jacob Long all signed with the Mountaineers.

“It’s an area that I became familiar with when I was at Kentucky and we really recruited it hard,” Brown explained. “I have a respect for football in that state and how it’s coached and how it’s played. There’s a lot of tough kids there that I think translate over to West Virginia in a really good way.”

It appears Brown and company will be going hard at Ohio players again in 2022. WVU already offered 14 players from Ohio for next year’s class, the sixth-most of any state.

“We’ve got multiple coaches that are in there recruiting,” Brown said. “They’ve done a really great job building relationships and we’ve continued to hit that state hard. There’s really high-level football, traditionally. This was a really solid class in that state this year. We’re going to continue to have a strong presence in Ohio.”

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