Thursday, October 27, 2016

National Signing Day Recap: Defense

Now with National Signing Day completed, it’s time to look at the WVU defensive prospects where the coaching staff elected to use most of it’s available scholarships;

Let’s start with the defensive line where the Mountaineers were able to land two prospects, both of which are currently on campus. DT Jeffery Pooler is the name to watch next season given the loss of Kyle Rose in the middle of the 3-3-5 defense. Pooler has the size (6’3 290lbs.) to slide into that spot but will more than likely be second on the depth chart his first season. Pooler was named the Southwest Ohio Player of the Year as a senior after recording 82 tackles and 8 sacks. The second and most familiar player to most is DE Reese Donahue of Cabell Midland. Donahue was the WV Player of the Year this past season after 97 tackles and 16.5 sack senior season. Donahue has a motor that reminds me of Bruce Irvin and could be the pass rushing edge that WVU has been searching for.

With the departures of all 3 starting linebackers, the coaching staff set out to build a new unit for the future. LB Logan Thimons has the look of the next great WVU linebacker after a very impressive senior season where he recorded 161 tackles (single season record) and 15.5 sacks. Thimons recorded a school record 24 tackles in a game and was named the 2A Pennsylvania Defensive Player of the Year. LB Zach Sandwisch is another big name player that could see a lot of playing time as a freshman. Sandwisch was a tackling machine during his senior season after recording a 105 tackles. LB Adam Hensley is another good looking prospect that WVU pulled away from Ohio that could earn some quality playing time this season after a senior season of 77 tackles. The big prize of this class in Mountaineer Nation’s eyes has been LB Brendan Ferns, who signed with the Mountaineers this morning over Penn State. Ferns was the top prospect on the WVU board for quite awhile now and he will be an instant impact player at the position. Ferns was a monster his senior season where he recorded 118 tackles and also contributed over 1600 yards on offense with 22 touchdowns. Even with the losses that WVU faced after last season, the coaching staff was able to go out and build the next special group of linebackers to come through WVU.

The defensive backfield took a hit after CB Daryl Worley announced that he was headed to the NFL.  The coaching staff didn’t panic and instead went out and added some key pieces late in the process that will make the transition easier. The two most obvious pieces are CB’s Mike Daniels and Elijah Battle, both of whom will look to slide into the roles vacated by Worley, Chestnut, and Rumph. Both have the size and skill set to challenge the top receivers in the Big 12 after successful campaigns at the junior college level. Replacing KJ Dillon is a tough task but there is another White on the way to help. Kyzir White will slide into that role at the SPUR position which is HUGE for WVU given how important that role is in the 3-3-5 scheme. Toyous Avery was another late addition by Coach Caponi that could see playing time at the safety position but could also be used as a cornerback in the Mountaineers scheme. The freshman that will be entering this season are CB Jacob Long, CB Sean Mahone, DB Jovanni Stewart, and S Dylan Tonkery. All of these prospects are vastly underrated and WVU was able to land them over some big name programs. Long and Mahone will give the Mountaineers additional help at the CB position while Stewart was considered one of the tacklers from the safety position on his high school team in Texas. Tonkery was another early enroller that looks to follow in his brothers footsteps at WVU.

The only specialist that WVU has brought in this class in K Jonn Young, who has the ability either kick or punt for the Mountaineers next season. With the departure of Nick O’Toole, it appears that Young may fill that role.