RALEIGH, N.C. —
By JOHN RABY
AP Sports Writer
CHARLESTON (AP) — Bill Stewart’s final recruiting class as West Virginia’s head coach is heavy on linemen that will provide the Mountaineers with potential help up front for years to come.
The 17 recruits announced Wednesday include three defensive linemen and four on the offensive side.
Stewart will be replaced after the 2011 season by Dana Holgorsen, who was hired last month as the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting.
Holgorsen’s offenses at Oklahoma State and Houston have been among the most potent in the country, and Stewart said there are some recruiting philosophies in the coaching switch that won’t change.
“Linemen are linemen, they’re still going to block,” he said. “Tight ends are still tight ends.”
West Virginia won’t make anyone’s Top 25 class, but in defending his recruits, Stewart ran off a list of past players including quarterback Pat White, linebacker Marc Magro, running back Steve Slaton and fullback Owen Schmitt who weren’t highly regarded by recruiters and turned out to be huge contributors.
“These guys are our stars,” Stewart said.
Holgorsen arrived in Morgantown in early January and hired three new offensive assistants, which proved to be a challenge to get started late in the recruiting process, although the defensive staff remained intact and had long-term contact with recruits.
“It was a real trip for us this year because we came in late,” Holgorsen said. “It will be a whole lot easier next year.”
In addition to the recruits, the Mountaineers previously added six players to their roster for the spring semester.
Two of them, quarterbacks Brian Athey and Paul Millard, will get much playing time in spring practice because starter Geno Smith is recuperating from a stress fracture in his left foot and could miss all or part of the workouts for the second straight year.
“Without these two quarterbacks, we would probably have called off spring ball,” Holgorsen joked. “I don’t know what else we could do, I mean I’m not going to stand back there. Those guys are going to be important.”
In looking for the next in a long line of successful running backs, West Virginia added Andrew Buie from Jacksonville, Fla., Dustin Garrison from Pearland, Texas, and Washington, D.C.’s Vernard Roberts, who is already enrolled in school.
Scouting services considered Buie to be among the highest rated players landed by the Mountaineers.
Buie ran for 242 yards and four touchdowns in leading Trinity Christian to the Florida Class 1A championship in 2010. His team lost in the state title game in 2009. He finished 2010 with 1,782 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns.
He is among six in the class of 2011 from Florida. Four recruits are from Ohio.
West Virginia has to fill eventual needs on the offensive line. The Mountaineers are looking to replace Eric Jobe and Matt Timmerman this year, with four more linemen graduating after the 2011 season.
One of the recruits on the offensive line, Parkersburg’s Justin Johnson, is the brother of current WVU starting left guard Josh Jenkins.
As always, there’s are the ones who got away.
Dominique Terrell, a highly sought cornerback from Manassas, Va., signed to play at Virginia.
Running back Jermichael Selders of Houston, who had given a verbal commitment to WVU, instead signed with Baylor.
West Virginia football signings
MORGANTOWN (AP) — Football players who signed binding letters-of-intent Wednesday at West Virginia, with player, position, height, weight, and school-town:
Jared Barber, lb, 6-1, 215, Davie HS, Mocksville, N.C.
Ben Bradley, dl, 6-3, 275, Norcross (Ga.) HS
Isaiah Bruce, lb, 6-2, 215, Providence HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
Andrew Buie, rb, 5-9, 191, Trinity Christian Academy, Jacksonville, Fla.
Dante Campbell, wr, 6-5, 205, East Ridge HS, Clermont, Fla.
Terrell Chestnut, db, 6-0, 177, Pottstown (Pa.) HS
Cody Clay, te, 6-4, 250, George Washington HS, Alum Creek, W.Va.
Dustin Garrison, rb, 5-8, 165, Pearland (Texas) HS
Russell Haughton-James, ol, 6-6, 280, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
Brandon Jackson, ol, 6-4, 320, St. Edward HS, Euclid, Ohio
Justin Johnson, ol, 6-4, 288, Parkersburg (W.Va.) HS
Nick Kwiatkoski, db, 6-2, 215, Bethel Park (Pa.) HS
Marquis Lucas, ol, 6-4, 310, Central HS, Miami
K.J. Myers, wr, 6-2, 185, First Coast HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
Shaq Petteway, lb, 6-0, 200, Steubenville (Ohio) HS
Kyle Rose, de, 6-4, 240, Centerville (Ohio) HS
Shaq Rowell, dl, 6-4, 308, Iowa Western CC, Maple Heights, Ohio