MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The early signing window for Division I football opens in less than a month and will mark the next step in an unprecedented period for recruiting.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA has implemented a dead period on recruiting, dating back to the competition stoppage in the spring. That means Division I football coaches at WVU and around the country have not been permitted to recruit athletes in person for months.
Despite this, head coach Neal Brown still believes that the Mountaineers will put together a solid signing class in December.
“If you look offensively, we’ve recruited probably at the highest level we ever have, with the people that we beat and the rankings those guys have,” Brown said this weekend on the latest episode of The Neal Brown Show. “I think defensively, we’ve got some guys that are under the radar that are gonna fit our mode.”
Along with complications caused by the pandemic, there’s another pending rule change that’s making this recruiting period even more challenging: the NCAA is expected to approve a new rule this winter that will grant immediate eligibility to first-time transfers.
This could potentially be a game-changer for WVU and other programs, but Brown realizes it is a double-edged sword. He said West Virginia will seek potential four-year transfers on the offensive line, in the secondary and at linebacker this offseason.
“Those are positions that, definitely, a four-year transfer can come in and immediately give us help,” Brown said.
But, the head coach admits that it’s not out of the question that current Mountaineers could seek a transfer away from Morgantown under this same rule.
The challenge, Brown said, doesn’t just lie in keeping the right amount of scholarships open for potential transfers. It also lies in keeping current Mountaineers engaged and developing within the program as an exciting third year of a new era approaches.
“I’ve always said year three gives you an opportunity, and I really believe that,” Brown said. “If we’re able to continue to develop the guys within our program, and we retain them, which is important — because our guys are gonna have the option to go other places just like everybody else, so we’ve got to do a really good job of building those relationships and retaining them. But, if we do that, and we recruit the right people and add the right pieces, year three is where you should start having some depth, and then you continue to build as you build your program.”
Brown said the Mountaineers will try to fill needs in at least four areas on National Signing Day: at wide receiver and offensive line on offense, and at linebacker and in the secondary on defense.
The early signing window for Division I football runs from Dec. 16-18.