With his team now out of bowl contention, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen spent the majority of today's media teleconference talking about recruiting and building up the program - a problem he says is not unique to the Mountaineers. Still, he feels the classes he and his staff are putting together will make WVU a better team in the years to come.
Holgorsen says the program is building depth thanks in large part to the last two classes.
"I think it’s getting better. If you look at the people we’re putting out there on the field, (they were) part of the recruiting class last year, part of the recruiting class the year before," he said. "Your challenge is just to try to get that better. I do think that our recruiting has gotten better and think it will continue to get better."
With the increase in recruiting talent - and the lack of depth on the team - some tough decision have been made regarding redshirts.
"I think you redshirt them for a reason. I’m looking at 30 guys on my sheet that are redshirting currently, and again, probably half of those are walk-ons, a little less than half," said Holgorsen. "I wish we could have redshirted Marvin Gross, Darrien Howard, Jeremy Tyler. Those guys needed to be redshirted. You need those guys to develop."
Occasionally, though, a few players break the mold and are talented enough to get on the field as soon as they arrive on campus.
"There are instances, like Daryl Worley, who could come in as a true freshman -.like Wendell Smalwood and Daikiel Shorts, too - and getting those guys to play at a pretty good level for being a true freshman is not really where you want to be," he said. "That’s going to happen every now and then, but the majority of the time you want to redshirt them. You want to develop them. Then, you want to get those guys seasoned a couple years into it."
This improvement in recruiting and the experience for the younger players has the Mountaineer head coach excited about the future, despite this year's poor performance.
"I’m very comfortable with (where the program is headed). Nobody is happy with 4-and-7. Nobody is happy with being home for the holidays," he said. "It’s the first time it’s happened with West Virginia in quite sometime. I’m not happy with that. We’re building a program and the recruiting is going to continue to get better."
The move to the Big12, which has already helped boost recruiting, will continue to help that, even as WVU faces tougher opponents on the field.
"We’ve only had a couple recruiting classes to be able to sell them on the Big12," said Holgorsen. "When you go into kids homes and you can sell the Big12, you can sell the different venues and the caliber of play, you’re going to end up getting a better kid because of it, and we’ve only done the for a couple years."
But conference affiliation alone won't get the trick done. Holgorsen called on the University as a whole to help lift the football team back to prominence.
"We need to step our game up as a University and continue to build facilities and stay in line with everybody else across the country," he said. "We need to continue to improve. We need to continue to build our roster. We need to continue to develop our kids and have Big12-caliber depth at all positions."
"We’ll get there over the next couple of years. The depth will be better, the recruiting will be better and the product on the field will be better as well."