Heading into the 2018 recruiting cycle it was pretty evident that the Mountaineers must recruit the defensive line hard and they did so with success. Today they were able to sign James Gmiter, Tyrese Allen and Dante Stills. Yes, West Virginia lost Alex Williams to Ohio State, but I do not expect that to be a huge loss. Dana Holgorsen and staff will hit the JUCO route pretty hard through February. With that being said, let’s take a look at those who did sign with the old gold and blue.
James Gmiter (Bethel Park, Pa.)– Gmiter (6’4″ 310 lbs) was extremely underrated and could be nice little find for the Mountaineers. Gmiter tells me that he will be anchoring the middle at the nose position and will be given a chance to compete for playing time. Gmiter chose the Mountaineers over his other lone offer, Wisconsin.
My analysis- Had Gmiter not shut down his recruitment down so early, I believe he would have garnered interest from several more schools. He will be up for a challenge trying to battle with ESPN Freshman All-American Lamonte McDougle for playing time, but I expect him, if healthy to see the field here and there. He is a great run plugger and can fight off blocks and rush the quarterback.
Tyrese Allen (Paintsville, Ky.)– Allen (6’3″ 290 lbs) is one of the most interesting recruits in the class just based off of his highlight film. Yes, you are not hallucinating, he is the starting running back on his high school team as well and he runs it pretty well. It caught me off guard to see how fast the big man could run. Allen chose West Virginia over several offers from group of 5 schools.
My analysis- Allen could be the hidden gem on the defensive side of the ball in this class. He doesn’t necessarily have that “wow” factor, but he is very coachable and will be a developmental guy. I would expect a red shirt, but within a couple of years you may start to see Allen’s name pop up a good bit.
Dante Stills (Fairmont, WV)– Stills (6’4″ 265 lbs) was a “must get” for the Mountaineers. It is very crucial to keep in state talent home and many fans felt that West Virginia whiffed on doing so last year. Stills is a premier edge rusher and was possibly one of the most sought after recruits the Mountain State has seen in quite some time. Stills chose West Virginia over Florida and Oklahoma.
My analysis- Stills is going to have the chance to follow his fathers footsteps to being a legend. Now its not fair to compare the young man to his dad, so I’ll just say Dante could be very special. He will not win the starting job right out of the gate, but expect Stills to make a push to take someone’s job mid-season in 2018.
The offensive line had an average year, at best. There were moments where it looked like Will Grier was running for his life and other moments where he had all day to sling it. The biggest issue concerning the offensive line was the depth, which is why West Virginia made an effort to build on that. Let’s now flip over to the other side and take a look at the hogmollies up front.
Blaine Scott (Portsmouth, OH)– Scott (6’4″ 310 lbs) was originally committed to Ole Miss back in the summer, but would eventually flip his commitment to West Virginia on October 19th. ” Coach Wick and I have a great relationship and he has obviously produced really good offensive lines. He can sell a program really good and he sells what he’s done really good.”
My analysis- Scott tells me that he expects to compete for a starting job at one of the guard spots heading into 2018, due to two seniors being lost to graduation. I see Josh Sills holding onto one spot and the other spot going to a more seasoned vet. It is really tough to play on the line, let alone as a true freshman. Scott will be a solid 2-3 year starter down the road.
Oyenmwen Uzebu (Alpharetta, Ga.)– Uzebu (6’6″ 305 lbs) is the youngest player in this years class, just recently turning 17. That in itself is scary considering he may not be finished growing. Uzebu chose West Virginia over Syracuse and NC State among many others. Uzebu told me he thinks something special is building in Morgantown, “We believe we are going to bring the Big 12 back to Morgantown and we think we can bring a national championship back home, if you don’t think that way then why are you here.”
My analysis- A kid that has a lot of raw talent, his body is ready for the college level, but he as a player is not quite there. Once Coach Wickline is able to work with him and shake out some of his mechanics, he will be a great starting tackle for West Virginia. With him being so young, it is almost a no brainer to red shirt him to let him sit, learn and develop.
Briason Mays (Bolivar, TN)– Mays (6’3″ 290 lbs) chose to sign with the Mountaineers with fellow high school teammate and quarterback Woodrow Lowe III. Mays chose West Virginia over offers from Georgia Tech, Navy, Marshall and others.
My analysis- Mays is another developmental guy that I expect to red shirt, again it is just so hard to play in the trenches at this level with no experience. Not saying it can’t happen, but with the current situation it would be best for Mays to take a red shirt. Mays could see himself in the rotation as early as 2019, but I would expect 2020 to be his year to earn a lot of playing time at guard.
Overall, a pretty solid day for offensive line coach Joe Wickline and defensive line coach Bruce Tall. They got some serious talent and they may not be done just yet.