After a one-day hiatus, EerSports returns to our series analyzing West Virginia’s recruiting efforts in various states. Today, we take a look the adjoining commonwealth of Virginia plus the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
Spain (right) is looking to buck the recent trend of Virginia flameouts for the Mountaineers.
Surprisingly, Virginia and D.C. have been less than kind to the Mountaineers over the years. Recruiting the area hasn’t been all for naught, though.
Garrett Ford, Sr. was a dependable back in the late 1960’s who compiled over 2,400 total yards and 20 touchdowns in his three year collegiate career.
D.C. native Jerry Porter flip-flopped back and forth between wide receiver and safety in the late 90’s, finishing with 591 career receiving yards and seven touchdowns on offense and 101 tackles and six interceptions on defense. He was eventually selected in the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft and had a nine year professional career.
Paul Woodside, who started at kicker for the ‘Eers from 1981 to 1984, holds numerous West Virginia records and set the NCAA mark for most field goals made in a season with 28 (it has since been surpassed). On top of his amazing career marks, he’s also sentimentally known for his game-winning field goal against Penn State in 1984 – the first time WVU had beaten the Nittany Lions in almost three decades. He was listed on All-American teams three straight years and inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.
Before there was Dan Mozes, there was Consensus All-American center Mike Compton from Richlands (VA), who suited up in Morgantown from 1989 through 1992. He started his final three years, was All Big-East for the last two and universally considered an All-American as a senior. He was drafted in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft, had a twelve year NFL career and was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
And in recent years, it’s no secret that there have been good signings with lots of potential but the actual product on the field has been an unmitigated disaster. From 2009 through 2011, players such as Logan Heastie, Deon Long, Marquis Wallace, Trey Johnson, Dominik Davenport, Jerrard Hunter and Vernard and Vance Roberts all signed with West Virginia. Only Johnson made it past the first semester, and he was gone before the end of his second year.
WVU is in the top two for Mizzell, a four-star back in 2013.
Currently, the Mountaineers’ roster shows eight players coming from the neighbors to the east – six on scholarship and two walk-ons. Donovan Miles (fullback) and Nick Cadwell (linebacker) are two players who are pushing for playing time, while three Virginia natives will be starting for WVU – Shawne Alston (running back), Tyler Bitancurt (kicker) and Quinton Spain (tackle). Top that off with cornerback Avery Williams from D.C., and there’s another player from the area who will likely see playing time this fall.
No one will be joining them this fall, though. For the first time since 2002, West Virginia failed to secure a player from Virginia or D.C. In fact, each of the last nine years, the Mountaineers had signed at least two recruits from the Old Dominion before coming up empty this February.
The staff – or more precisely, assistant coach Daron Roberts – is making a concerted effort to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
West Virginia leads for unoffered Audrex Harris and is in the top two for four-star back Taquan Mizzell. The ‘Eers were the first to offer safeties Brandon Ravenel (North Stafford) and Chris Holmes (Chancellor), placing themselves in good position for the long run. They’re also in heavy pursuit of three-star prospects DaeSean Hamilton (receiver) and Oren Burks (linebacker), but are fighting an uphill battle against the in-state Hokies and Wahoos.
It’s no surprise that in a loaded 2014 class, West Virginia has extended early offers to some elite Virginians already. Steven Moss, Anthony Scott, Jamil Kamara, Andrew Brown, Quin Blanding and Travon McMillian have all received WVU pledges this spring, despite the almost two years until National Signing Day.