West Virginia Recruiting Class: Take That, Michigan!

Frank AhrensSenior Writer IFebruary 6, 2008

Coach Bill Stewart introduced WVU’s 2008 football recruiting class yesterday.

If you’re to believe him, every one of the student-athletes is a world-class athlete—“fast,” “strong” and with a “high-motor.”

Further, they are all fine young men, a credit to their wonderful families and terrific high school coaches.

Also, I believe, at least one cured cancer as a true sophomore. But that’s why folks love Coach Stew. He even referred to one as the “bell cow” of the class, whatever that means.

I won’t break down the class, because I don’t know enough to, but then again, neither does anybody. But here's Coach Stew's take, for what it’s worth.

I will allow that the many high school scouting businesses that have popped up in recent years, as interest in high school recruits has taken on the fervor of the NFL draft, spend more time looking at and thinking about high school football players than I do.

But it’s worth noting that year after year, Notre Dame’s recruiting class has been ranked in the Top 10, even at number one, and the Irish have not won a national championship since 1988 (beating WVU).

Meanwhile, West Virginia, which has never had a Top 10 class, has won 11 games each of the past three seasons and three bowl wins (including two BCS wins). Further, WVU has only had two so-called five-star recruits up until this year, one a boon so far (Noel Devine) and one a bust (Jason Gwaltney).

WVU secured its third five-star recruit this year, Parkersburg (W.Va) offensive lineman Josh Jenkins (the aforementioned “bell cow”).

Further, it seems the recruiting services evaluate the high school players in a vacuum, by necessity. Which means that a five-star running back of a certain sort may flame out in a spread-option offense such as WVU’s, and that offense may turn an overlooked back (Steve Slaton, for instance) into an All-American.

Finally, it’s worth noting that WVU also failed to secure a Top 10 class under its former head coach. He did manage to sweet-talk Devine, and Pat White and Slaton came to WVU on his watch, but by all accounts, former offensive line coach Rick Trickett (now at Florida State) was responsible for White. And the former WVU head coach lucked into Slaton after Maryland dumped him.

So for all the doom-saying from the national college media who worship at the self-made alter of the current Michigan head coach, who said he would not only take all the quality assistant coaches but also the top recruits with him, well, not so much.

Keeping Jenkins in state even after the coaching change is even better.