The state of West Virginia’s top 2017 prospect, Derrek Pitts, is set to announce his collegiate intentions on Wednesday (tomorrow) and the Mountaineers look to be in a favorable position. However, outside of the top rated South Charleston athlete WVU has not fared well securing in-state talent in the 2017 class.
Last year the state of West Virginia saw 11 athletes sign letters of intent to play major college football. Of those 11 Reese Donahue (Cabell Midland) and Wes Tonkery (Bridgeport) signed with the Mountaineers. Tyrhee Pratt orginally signed at WVU before decommitting. However, that decommitment was not a result of not wanting to play in Morgantown but was due to extenuating circumstances.
With the crop of in-state athletes, the 2017 class could surpass last year’s record number. There is a glaring difference though, WVU is losing athletes to major division 1 schools outside the state. Of the 11 athletes to play D-1 football in 2016 only two had WVU offers, Tonkery and Donahue. This season the Mountaineers have already lost three to out-of-state schools.
Since 2010 only one in-state recruit left the state of West Virginia despite being offered by WVU, that was Ryan Switzer in 2013. Since that time all in-state athletes who have been offered by WVU have committed to the Mountaineers.
This season Capital’s Dorian Etheridge (Louisville), Spring Valley’s Riley Locklear (Tennessee), and Point Pleasant’s Seth Stewart, who originally committed to Marshall before flipping to LSU, all had WVU offers. One player being left off this list by most is Gerrik Volmer who has also committed to Louisville. Volmer, a 6’5 280 lb offensive tackle who is originally from Philippi, played in Watertown, Connecticut this past season. However, Volmer did not have a WVU offer.
This is an uncommon trend within the state. As West Virginia continues to produce quality Division 1 athletes the Mountaineers are seeing more leave for schools outside our borders.
Yes, recruiting is a fickle game and there are circumstances surrounding every athlete that we are not privileged to. But losing in-state talent to out-of-state schools is a rarity here.
What makes this potentially more troubling is this trend may have just started. Billy Ross, the senior offensive tackle out of Huntington, also seems to be favoring schools other than WVU. The three star athlete is expected to announce his decision on July 31st between North Carolina (favored), Tennessee, and Florida State.
One of the biggest concerns is Louisville. Many believe this could simply be a phase though as recently departed assistant coach Lonnie Galloway may have recruited Dorian Etheridge away from WVU when he left for the Cardinals. Losing an athlete to a bordering school is always a little tougher and again is something that is not that common.
While the commitment of Pitts would definitely help ease the pain of losing great in-state talent the fact will remain, WVU is no longer just competing with Marshall, they are competing this major Division-1 schools and this season that they are losing that competition.
Featured image credit USA Today