West Virginia Football: 5 Recruits Most Likely to Start as Freshmen

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 8, 2013

October 20, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen looks on from the sidelines against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia saw contributions from a number of freshmen during its 2012 college football campaign.

Two of the Mountaineers best defenders, Karl Joseph and Isaiah Bruce, both shined in their first seasons on the field in Morgantown.

WVU also used numerous freshmen at wide receiver alongside the best pass-catching duo in college football.

So, head coach Dana Holgorsen has clearly shown he is not afraid to give the nod to a freshman if he has earned his spot on the field.

Let's take a look at a few freshmen who could crack the starting lineup next season in Morgantown:

Darrien Howard, LB

There should be no surprise here, as Howard is currently West Virginia's top recruit for the class of 2013.

He's the only player in WVU's class right now ranked in the Top 300 by ESPN and will be joining a linebacking corps looking to replace two starters.

The Dayton, Ohio native primarily plays the inside position and with Bruce, Doug Rigg, Jared Barber and others returning, he may have a tough time earning a starting slot.

However, at 6'1" 260 pounds, he's still probably the most game-ready player coming to Morgantown.

Howard may not be at the top of that initial depth chart, but if any of the incumbent linebackers falter, he could work his way to the top over the course of the season.

Malik Greaves, S

We all know the West Virginia secondary is in need of help.

And starting safety Darwin Cook didn't have his best year.

This opens the door for Greaves (and JUCO transfer Terrell Pinson) to step in and earn a starting spot.

Joseph paved the way for a safety to make the starting lineup early last season and could certainly help groom Greaves into doing the same.

Joseph did it by simply playing harder than just about every player on the field for the WVU defense and tackling well.

At 6'2" 205 pounds, Greaves is certainly cut out do do the same.

Al-Rasheed Benton, LB

The story for Benton is much the same for that of Howard.

The WVU linebacking corps will have two open slots, and Benton will be in competition to earn one of those slots.

It's tough to predict who (if anyone) will crack the lineup, especially with numerous returners at the position. Not many people predicted that Bruce would have such an impact last year.

At the same time, with four slots on the depth chart for linebackers, Benton could certainly make his way on the field if he shows the same consistency and intensity that Bruce showed.

Marcell Lazard, OL

Only two linemen will return to the starting lineup for West Virginia.

More likely than Lazard starting are some of the Mountaineers redshirt freshmen and sophomores. 

However, Lazard entering that picture is far from out of the question as well.

WVU's returners, Quinton Spain and Pat Eger, were far from consistent in 2012 and will have to improve going forward.

At 6'5" 290 pounds, Lazard is about as physically ready as a lineman can be going into the college ranks, but at the same time, WVU has been slow to start young linemen. 

DeShawn Coleman, RB

Perhaps more likely to earn a starting slot at running back will be JUCO transfer Dreamius Smith.

However, one look at the tape of Coleman and its clear that he has the talent to earn a spot as well.

He is undersized (5'11" 170 pounds) and wasn't a very highly-touted recruit, but he seems to have the speed, quickness and instinct that can't be taught.

With that kind of skill, Coleman could add weight and blossom into a starter for WVU.

It just remains to be seen if he'll make the field next year with other small backs Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison in front of him.


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