Signing day roundup: West Virginia, Duquesne, Robert Morris cement classes
February 3, 2016 8:28 PM
Ben Queen/USA TODAY Sports
West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen.
By Craig Meyer / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As it prepares for its fifth season as a member of the Big 12, West Virginia’s incoming 2016 class features two things that have given it quite a bit of success in the past — a play-making wide receiver from Maryland and someone with the last name ‘White.’
The Mountaineers announced their 27-player recruiting class Wednesday, a group headlined by Reisterstown, Md., wide receiver Steven Smothers and defensive back Kyzir White.
“We had a successful day today,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I know everybody across the country is saying the same thing, but for the first time since I’ve been here, there have been no surprises.”
Between his home state and relatively small stature (5-9 and 154 pounds), Smothers has consistently drawn comparisons to former West Virginia standout Tavon Austin, who was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the eighth pick in the 2013 NFL draft. A two-time first-team all-state honoree, he finished his high school career with 65 touchdowns and 20.3 yards per catch.
White is one of two West Virginia signees in the class rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, with the other being Saint Clairsville, Ohio, linebacker Brendan Ferns. A transfer from Lackawanna College, White is the youngest brother of Kevin White, a former West Virginia standout who is now a wide receiver with the Chicago Bears, and Ka’Raun White, a wide receiver who just finished his sophomore season with the Mountaineers.
The class also includes two WPIAL products in North Hills offensive lineman Jacob Buccigrossi and Freeport linebacker Logan Thimons, the latter of whom was selected to the Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 in 2015. Both Buccigrossi and Thimons enrolled at the university last month.
The Mountaineers’ haul — 14 offensive players, 12 defensive players and one specialist — is rated by Rivals as the 39th-best class in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Among Big 12 schools, it ranks fifth.
One year after securing some of the WPIAL’s top playmakers, from quarterback Brett Brumbaugh to running back P.J. Fulmore, Duquesne announced its incoming 19-player class that along with 13 freshmen, included six transfers, including linebacker Gary Wooten and defensive back Daquan Worley, both of whom are mid-year transfers from Penn State.
Five of the freshmen are from the WPIAL: Pine-Richland linebacker Tommy Jurkovec, Washington defensive lineman Khalid Blount (the son of former Steelers star Mel Blount), Seton-LaSalle tight end Billy O’Malley, McKeesport offensive lineman Lyle Petrosky and Pine-Richland kicker Jacob Gill.
Duquesne, with six returning starters on both offense and defense, is coming off a 2015 season in which it finished 8-4 and won the Northeast Conference championship. It has claimed at least a share of the conference title in three of the past five seasons.
Robert Morris had a three-win improvement last season after a disastrous 1-10 campaign in coach John Banaszak’s debut in 2014 and will look to build on that momentum with the addition of 20 new players for next season.
All but one of the incoming prospects are freshmen, with the exception being wide receiver Eldin Adu, a transfer from Kent State who will be a junior this season. The class also includes seven players from WPIAL schools, highlighted by running back Harrison Dreher (Clairton) and wide receiver Tim Vecchio (Penn-Trafford). Dreher was the leading receiver and second-leading rusher for the Bears; Vecchio was a Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 honoree.
Of the 20 incoming players, 14 are on offense, where Robert Morris averaged just 14 points per game last season.
WPIAL-City League players headed to other FBS schools:
ARMY – Anthony Battaglia, Pine-Richland (DB, 6-1, 195).
BOWLING GREEN – Terence Stephens, West Allegheny (RB-DB, 6-1, 190).
IOWA STATE – Tymar Sutton, McKeesport (LB, 6-0, 210).
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