Saturday, October 22, 2016

National Signing Day Recap: Offense

Now with National Signing Day completed, it is time to take a look at how WVU finished and no better place to start than on the offense side of the ball:

QB Cody Saunders is the only quarterback that WVU took in this class and he is an undervalued prospect that fits into the WVU scheme. Saunders will give the Mountaineers some depth at the position with Crest and Sills featured at other positions. Saunders was an early enrollee which will help him get acquainted with the WVU playbook. Saunders finished his high school career with 4,750 yards passing and 37 touchdowns but also rushed for 2,230 yards for 24 touchdowns as a 3 year starter.

RB’s Kennedy McKoy, Martell Pettaway, and Justin Crawford are the backfield options that WVU took in this class and it’s a very impressive group once you look at how each will factor in the offense. McKoy will bring the pass catching abilities that the departure of Smallwood leaves in the offense while Crawford figures to be the primary backup behind Rushel Shell. McKoy was named Davidson County (NC) player of the year after a senior season of over 1800 yards rushing with 24 touchdowns and 683 yards receiving with 7 touchdowns. Crawford was the JUCO player of the year this past season after a season of over 1500 yards rushing with 14 touchdowns for Northwest Mississippi Community College. Pettaway is a hard runner that I feel was underrated in his recruiting process and will provide the Mountaineers with a physical runner not afraid of contact. Pettaway showcased his ability in the Semper Fi All American Game when he broke a 72 yard run displaying his vision and breakaway speed. Pettaway was rated as the top prospect in the state of Michigan before he transferred to Detroit King for his senior season. This is an undervalued group that could provide the Mountaineers with an even better running game than they featured last season.

WR’s Marcus Simms and Steven Smothers were the only receivers that WVU took and again these two are a special talent. When you break down the tape of these two, I see a combo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Simms was a catching machine last season and there is no reason to think that it won’t continue next season at WVU, where he enrolled early. Simms was First Team All State in Maryland after a 20 touchdown season. Smothers has been the prospect that WVU fans can’t wait to see in the blue and gold next season. His senior season Smothers recorded 19 touchdowns in a variety of different ways. Smothers could be a factor in the slot which would provide the Mountaineers with a dynamic trio at the position. I also look for Smothers to be a force in the punt return game, where he excelled last season averaging 27.8 yards a return with 1 touchdown. While WVU is loaded at the position, I expect both of these prospects to find their way on the field in some fashion next season.

TE Trevon Wesco of Lackawanna (JC) will give the Mountaineers a threat at the position that they haven’t had in a long time. Wesco has the ability to stretch the field and give Skyler Howard another option in the check down game. WVU will also feature Michigan transfer Michael Ferns on offense in a role that will be left with the departure of Cody Clay.

The offensive line will feature some underrated prospects that WVU will hope to groom after a season of learning behind the starters. JUCO Craig Smith is a name that I could see making an impact early especially if the current line has any injuries like last season. OL Chase Behrndt, Josh Sills, and Jacob Buccigrossi are definitely good gets for WVU especially considering WVU went into SEC country and landed Behrndt. Sills is another good get in the state of Ohio while Buccigrossi is looking at a redshirt this season considering he is recovering from a season ending injury as a senior. All three will be projects for WVU but all have the talent to be good guards in the WVU scheme.

The wildcard on offense here is ATH Jacquez Adams, who was an early enroller from Milford Academy (NY). Adams has the ability to play quarterback, running back, or wide receiver so the Mountaineers will have flexibility with him. During his career at Franklin High (MD), Adams accounted for over 4,800 yards passing for 51 touchdowns with 1,935 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns. Adams also could join his brother, Jordan, in the defensive backfield for WVU but I look for the Mountaineers to use him mainly on offense.