Gold and Blue Nation

Lyons: Brown’s “strategic” recruiting vision fuels summer streak of commitments

Gold and Blue Nation

In third year of new era for WVU football, school’s director of athletics praises head coach for recruiting efforts

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As June turned to July, Neal Brown and his staff maintained their hot streak in recruiting by gaining more commitments from top targets. 

A pair of four-star prospects produced some fireworks over the holiday weekend, as speedy cornerback Jacolby Spells and powerful running back Justin Williams announced their commitments to the old gold and blue about one day apart. They join four-star quarterback Nicco Marchiol and several other talented prospects on Brown’s 2022 commitment list.

That recruiting class is also generating some buzz throughout college football: 247Sports ranks it among the top 25 in the nation, while Rivals currently places it at No. 26 in its ranking. 

WVU director of athletics Shane Lyons thinks this is all a product of Brown’s work ethic. 

“Neal’s done a great job of planning,” Lyons said last week in an exclusive interview with Gold and Blue Nation. “He’s a planner. He is very strategic in his vision of what he’s looking for.” 

Lyons said Brown and his staff have “done a great job” with recruiting in recent weeks, as several official visits have led to commitments, growing that commitment list to 12 prospects as of Monday. 

“He had his targets that he was looking at, saying ‘at this position, I need this student-athlete.’ So far, we’ve been very fortunate that we’ve gotten some of those student-athletes, and I think more will roll around here in the next several days,” Lyons said. “I’m just excited for Mountaineer football and the direction it is heading.” 

This boom at WVU follows a lengthy recruiting dead period that presented new challenges to coaching staffs across the country. But Lyons thinks Brown adapted his recruiting strategy to those challenges, allowing him to forge strong relationships with prospects. 

“Even though the dead period prevented our coaches from going off campus and then also prevented the student-athletes from coming on campus, there was a lot of technology used along the way — Zoom calls, team calls, things that we never really used in the past,” Lyons said. “In some senses, they may have gotten to know the prospective student-athletes a lot better because they had more face-to-face encounters with them.” 

Student-athletes in the class of 2022 can begin signing their letters-of-intent during the early signing period, which begins Dec. 15. 

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