West Virginia Football: New Coaching Hires to Make Huge Recruiting Impact
The 2013 college football offseason is only a couple of weeks old, but it has already been a chaotic period for West Virginia. The Mountaineers have fired coaches, demoted a coach and had one stolen away by another program. Through all that, they also lost the commitment of one of their top defensive recruits.
However, over the past week, the skies have cleared in Morgantown.
WVU confirmed the additions of three coaches in three days. Cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell, safeties coach Tony Gibson and receivers coach and assistant head coach Lonnie Galloway were all officially added to the fold this week (via WVUSports.com).
Mitchell and Gibson saw their respective defensive units struggle on the field in 2012, so it remains to be seen just how their additions will translate in that regard. Galloway, on the other hand, has been a successful receivers coach at every stop he has made, including his previous three-year tenure at West Virginia.
All three of these new additions have had varying coaching backgrounds, but they all also have one thing in common—their recruiting prowess.
In the official WVU release on Gibson's hire (linked above), head coach Dana Holgorsen highlighted just that. “Tony certainly has built a reputation as an outstanding recruiter and is nationally known for his ability," Holgorsen said.
As Holgorsen noted, Gibson is no stranger to pulling blue-chip recruits. While coaching at Pittsburgh, he brought in elite running back Rushel Shell, who ran for 641 yards and four touchdowns in a backup role as a freshman.
During his stint at Michigan, Gibson also recruited dual-threat star Denard Robinson to lead the Wolverines under center. We all know how that turned out for UM.
Holgorsen had similar sentiments when speaking about Mitchell. While also lauding his developmental abilities, Holgorsen alluded to the energy, aggression and character Mitchell will bring to the West Virginia staff.
An NFL veteran, Mitchell played alongside Deion Sanders during his professional career. He, like Holgorsen, was also a member of Mike Leach's coaching staff at Texas Tech.
Finally, we arrive at Lonnie Galloway, who may prove to be the most influential addition to this staff. With the departure of quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital to Texas A&M, Shannon Dawson will transition to leading the signal-callers.
Taking his place coaching receivers will be Galloway, who was on the West Virginia staff just two years ago.
Among his recruiting conquests are two athletes who are sure to go down as Mountaineer legends—Bruce Irvin and Tavon Austin.
Irvin will be considered as possibly the best pass-rusher to ever wear the gold and blue. Austin, meanwhile, is one of the best all-purpose talents in NCAA history and may be the most dynamic athlete ever to have stepped foot in Morgantown.
Needless to day, Galloway has a bit of a thing for attracting talented players.
While the West Virginia communications department was drafting the official releases on the additions of Galloway, Gibson and Mitchell, the Mountaineers just so happened to bring in their biggest recruit of the 2013 class so far.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio receiver Shelton Gibson pledged for West Virginia on Jan. 16—right in the middle of West Virginia's string of coaching announcements.
Gibson, one of the nation's most sought-after receiver prospects, spurned Ohio State, Tennessee and Kentucky when he chose WVU, while also turning down offers from Auburn, Arkansas, Michigan State, Nebraska and many others.
Listed at 5'11" 174 pounds by ESPN, Gibson will bring to Morgantown a skill set that is a cross between that of Austin and WVU's all-time leader in touchdown receptions, Stedman Bailey.
Gibson has a quick-twitch ability and skill in the open field similar to Austin, but can also stretch the field vertically like Bailey.
With signing day (Feb. 6) quickly approaching, West Virginia has already claimed its first big addition to the already solid 2013 class. As that fateful date approaches, this new staff will be at work on the recruiting trail with hopes of making a few final additions to the class.
And if the background of this trio holds true, the Mountaineers haven't yet put the finishing touches on this year's new batch of recruits.
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