MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s 2022 recruiting class has begun to solidify as the first signees have sent their National Letters of Intent to Morgantown.
Neal Brown now has 22 signees in his 2022 class, which consists of 17 high school prospects, three junior college additions and two Division I transfers.
He’s not done, though. By next season, Brown plans on upping his class to 32 new Mountaineers —specifically, 25 from high school plus seven transfers.
As it stands, WVU’s 2022 class holds some of the highest rankings from any outlet since recruiting classes began being ranked. Rivals slots WVU as having the 22nd-best class in the country (the best-ever ranking from the site), while 247Sports puts the Mountaineers at No. 32 (the highest since 2013).
Here are some of the highlights from WVU’s first day of the early signing period:
The top gets on offense
Nicco Marchiol has stolen headlines across the WVU football media landscape, as he picks up award after award for his historic senior season at Hamilton High School, but he is far from the only quality pick up on the offensive side of the ball.
For one, WVU snagged the top prospect in West Virginia in Spring Valley High School tight end Corbin Page. The 6-5, 243-pound First Team All-State selection is a consensus top-30 tight end in the nation, and could make history if he takes the field next year: WVU’s right side of the line would be made up of guard Doug Nester, tackle Wyatt Milum and Page, a trio of Spring Valley products.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened to have your right guard, right tackle and tight end all from the same school,” Brown said. “…So a pretty neat story there.”
Page is one of three pass-catchers joining the program, but that group is headlined by Alabama native Jarel Williams. A three/four-star recruit and one of the top prospects in Alabama, Williams caught 13 touchdowns in his senior season and picked the Mountaineers over 19 other scholarship offers, including Michigan, Pitt, Florida State and Notre Dame.
Calling in reinforcements for the secondary
Brown didn’t mess around when it came to his defensive recruiting — especially in the secondary. Five of WVU’s 12 defensive signees are defensive backs, and the list is topped by speedy cornerback Jacolby Spells, a four-star recruit from Miami.
“He brings exactly what we talked about — versatility….Every position in the back-end — safety, corner, our spear position — he can play,” said WVU defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley on the 2021 Mountaineer GameDay National Signing Day Special.
WVU’s staff is also excited about safety Mar’Ques “Hershey” McLaurin, one of WVU’s junior college prospects in this class and one of the top defensive backs in the NJCAA. McLaurin is an intriguing prospect, especially because he was one of the best high school quarterbacks in Mississippi, having thrown for over 6,000 yards and 73 touchdowns as a four-year starter.
In front of them, though, lines up one another one of the best signees of the season in Lee Kpogba. Rated as one of the top prospects in this year’s junior college class, Kpogba comes to WVU with three years of eligibility and two years of Division I experience under his belt, having racked up 44 tackles in two years at Syracuse at the start of his college career.
Why not both?
One of the most interesting gets in this class could be the first signee of 2022, as kicker/punter Oliver Straw sent his NLI to Morgantown from London in the early hours of signing day. The Melbourne, Australia native is a dual US and Australia citizen and took his only Division I offer from WVU as a three-star prospect.
The best part? With experience from Australian-rules football, he can roll out either left or right, kick with both feet, and he can do it in either a spiral or end-over-end.
“Tyler [Sumpter] has done a nice job, he had a much better year two than he did year one, but what Ollie will give us the opportunity to do is change field position,” Brown said. “We’ll kick away from returners, people will have to use two returners, two returners means less rushers. He can potentially be a game-changing type of a player within special teams.”
Straw is a product of ProKick in Australia, which has trained five Ray Guy Award winners so far. In fact, former WVU punter Josh Growden is currently a coach there.
“If you look across college football, most of the guys from Australia are from ProKick,” Brown said. “They do a good job of training guys there. Ollie, he’s unique.”
Straw is one of a few of international prospects in this year’s signing class. Williams, the Alabama wide receiver, spent time in Germany as a kid, while Aric Burton, a defensive end, grew up in Heufeld, Germany before transferring to Clearwater Academy International. Additionally, Kpogba grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but is a native of Ghana, while Georgia defensive lineman Asani Redwood also hails from Jamaica.
For a full recap of the team’s 2022 signees, don’t miss our full replay of the Mountaineer GameDay National Signing Day Special.