West Virginia Scores Big, Flips Stud JUCO ATH Mario Alford from Arizona

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIFebruary 6, 2013

Photo Credit: 247 Sports
Photo Credit: 247 Sports

West Virginia was in need of a playmaker to make an instant impact after the departure of all-purpose maverick Tavon Austin, and the Mountaineers may have just found their next shifty star with the flipping of junior college athlete Mario Alford, who was previously committed to Arizona.

Alford joined the fold for WVU early on national signing day, signaling the first big pull by new safeties coach Tony Gibson (via WVUSports.com). Gibson joined the WVU staff in January and immediately went to work to bring Alford with him.

That work paid off in a big way on Wednesday morning.

The 4-star recruit is the No. 1 JUCO athlete and the No. 21 overall JUCO recruit, according to ESPN. Meanwhile, he's a 3-star composite and the No. 3 JUCO athlete, according to 247Sports.com.

The Georgia Military College transfer figures to immediately make his mark in Morgantown, where he'll likely hold down one of the slot positions in Dana Holgorsen's spread offense.

Judging by what Austin was able to do, Holgorsen certainly knows how to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers in space.

Alford should be able to use his speed and quickness to eat up a heaping helping of yardage off screens, sweeps and read plays.

He was used a lot out of the backfield at GMC, showing a skill set similar to that of former Clemson all-purpose back C.J. Spiller, though he doesn't carry quite the weight or size that Spiller did for the Tigers.

In the WVU spread, he's expected to be utilized more out of the slot in a fashion similar to Austin, rather than taking the role of a running back.

Alford can make quick cuts and has an elite-level burst, which Mountaineer fans should have no trouble becoming accustomed to. With West Virginia's top three receivers from 2012 gone, the position is wide open and there's little doubt that Alford will fill one of those roles in 2013.