After a 2008 season that finished with them winning the Meineke Car Care Bowl against the North Carolina Tar Heels, the West Virginia Mountaineers said goodbye to the winningest senior class in school history.
This class of 16 seniors, including quarterback Patrick White, won 40 games in their career for the old gold and blue.
However, head coach Bill Stewart, as well as assistants Doc Holliday and Chris Beatty, have been hitting the recruiting trail hard in hopes to find the next great Mountaineer. So far, they have done a great job of this as West Virginia's 2009 recruiting class is ranked 19th in the nation, according to Rivals.com.
The class consists of six four-star players, 14 three-stars, and two two-star prospects. Leading this class are Army All-American defensive back Michael Carter (Ely HS, Pompano Beach, FL) and Under Armour All-American wide receiver Logan Heastie (Great Bridge HS, Chesapeake, VA).
Carter, the No. 12 cornerback in the class of 2009, picked West Virginia over schools such as Miami (FL), Georgia, and Florida and displays impressive speed and superb skill covering receivers. The one thing that may prevent Carter from making it to the next level would be his 5'11", 154-pound frame.
Heastie will enter West Virginia as the No. 24 receiver in this year's class and chose to come to Morgantown over schools such as North Carolina and Penn State. The 6'2" receiver has great leaping ability and, like Carter, is very fast. He is able to use his large frame, along with his speed, to stretch the field and should give the Mountaineers the deep ball threat that they need.
However, he still needs to bulk up a little more before he can become a reliable threat across the middle.
Perhaps the biggest spot that the Mountaineers will have to fill is the quarterback spot left by, as Stewart calls him, "the greatest winner in college football," Patrick White. Recruiting coordinator Doc Holliday may have helped find the solution to the question many WVU fans are asking about who the man under center for them will be.
Eugene "Geno" Smith (Miramar HS, Miramar, FL), the No. 8 quarterback in the country, could possibly give Jarrett Brown a run for his money under center when the Mountaineers start the 2009 season
Like White and Brown, Smith is a dual-threat quarterback and can throw the football exceptionally well. When he gets into the open field, he shows great elusiveness and shows great zip on his passes, as well as a very quick release.
Also joining Smith in the 2009 class is his favorite receiver. Stedman Bailey, also from Miramar, signed with the Mountaineers on the same day that Smith did.
Bailey, also recruited by Doc Holliday, has shown very good hands and knows how to get open. His quickness and run after catch skills make him a perfect slot receiver for the spread offense. At 5'11", the only drawback for this very good prospect will be his size.
Last week, coach Stewart landed another big recruit when, with the help of wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, the Mountaineers got a commitment from running back Tavon Austin (Dunbar HS, Baltimore, MD).
Like their current starting running back, Noel Devine, Austin is a very dynamic back who can make things happen when he gets into the open field. He shows terrific vision and runs harder than most 5'9", 156-pound backs would. Durability could be the only issue for Austin, but he can be a great fit into offensive coordinator Jeff Mullens' spread offense as both a running back and wide receiver.
This solid 2009 class is just a preview of what is still to come for an up and coming Mountaineer team, and hopefully there will be many great days ahead for WVU football.