MORGANTOWN - There was a lot of back-patting and high-fiving Wednesday afternoon at the Milan Puskar Center, as coach Bill Stewart announced the 2010 football recruits, saying ''we feel we have a special class, not of just athletes, but of fine young men.''
The bell cows of the 19-man group are thought to be the safeties, receivers, and quarterbacks, but offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen wasn't ready to anoint anyone just yet, considering only one - highly touted receiver Deon Long - is actually on campus.
''No question, they're really, really, good,'' Mullen said of what, on paper, looks to be the finest group of receivers ever to come to Morgantown at the same time. ''But let's see. They're high school kids.
''They ain't been hit in the mouth by Robert Sands yet. They ain't been hit in the mouth by J.T. Thomas. They ain't had to stalk block Brandon Hogan.''
Then he started mixing his metaphors.
''We just bought the lottery ticket, but they ain't drawn the numbers yet. We've got some good numbers; it's a good spread. We're in pole position, but we ain't won the race yet.''
You get the point.
There are a lot of stars attached to some of these guys by the various recruiting outlets, but Stewart said he pays very little attention to any of it. He said he's glad those things are around to keep people employed and to create interest, but it's foolish for coaches and recruiters to buy into it.
Still, according to those people, the Mountaineers coaches are sitting in living rooms with lingering high-dollar cologne scents of the big boys.
Stewart told a story about how he and offensive line coach Bill Kirelawich talked during several trips to see different prospects, with Kirelawich often taking time to ask Stewart, 'you know who we are going up against?' I said 'yes I do' and he said, 'It's awesome Stew.' This goes to show you, you don't have to be what we say you are, you can be what you want to be if you go out and work and pay diligence and treat people right.''
Two of the receivers - 6-foot Dante Chambers and 6-3 Ivan McCartney - were teammates at Miramar High School in Florida, the same school that produced Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith.
''That was not a package deal,'' Stewart said.
Chambers doesn't necessarily fit the profile Stewart said the Mountaineers were looking for, in that he's about the same height as the head coach.
''I want them fast, I want them tall, I want them rangy,'' Stewart said.
But Chambers' speed already ranks him among the fastest West Virginia players. McCartney played in the U.S. Army All-American Game, which added to his legend.
''Both players stand on their own merit,'' Stewart said of Chambers and McCartney. ''I am sure enough will be said about him. He is special. He can stretch a field and he can go get the ball. The poor fellow (McCartney) will have a hard time living up to his billing.''
Quantavious Leslie, a 6-4, 180-pounder out of Hogansville, Ga., rounds out the receivers.
''He is a knee-bender and just a big long spider-armed kid,'' Stewart said. ''He has a chance to be an outstanding receiver.''
The quarterbacks, both with big reputations who ultimately spurned offers from some big-time programs, are Jeremy Johnson, a 6-2, 175-pounder out of Kountze Texas, and Barry Brunetti (6-0, 207) out of Memphis, Tenn.
Johnson was thought of as a Top-10 dual-threat quarterback who runs a 10.6 in the 100 with a 24-foot long jump. Brunetti is a big-armed Parade High School All-American who has not lost a football game he has started in since the seventh grade.
Might three, along with Smith and Pat White's little brother Coley, be a crowd?
''They both know they're coming,'' Stewart said. ''They're both Elite 11 types of players and they also know we have an Elite 11 quarterback waiting here. When you can find three guys that want to compete for one job, those are three pretty special guys. Hopefully they all stay, but we only have one football. That will be great competition.''
The safeties, too, come with big upside.
Travis Bell, (6-2, 187) out of Belle Glade, Fla., had 10 interceptions as a senior.
''He roams sideline to sideline really well,'' Stewart said.
Michael Dorsey (6-3, 210) ran the Wildcat as a quarterback at Warren Harding last season.
''One fine football player,'' Stewart said. ''Great student.''
The only in-state player on the recruit list is Bridgeport High's Wes Tonkery (6-1, 190).
The lone running back in the class is Trey Johnson (5-10, 172) out of Richmond, Va.
''He may be the fastest man in Virginia,'' Stewart said. ''He's not tall, tall, but he's tall enough. When he sticks a foot in the ground, (Running backs) Coach (Chris) Beatty could not have found a better guy. He is a great kid.''
Among the defensive backs, Stewart tried to stay under the radar when he went into Georgia to find Qudral Forte (6-1, 190).
''I was giving other names to divert other people,'' Stewart said. ''He's good enough to be a major-college quarterback. I said that I wanted players that were fast, tall and rangy. I will show you his film as a quarterback and as a safety. Wow.
''I didn't know in my later years, I'm going to be an FBI agent.''
The other DB that will be welcomed to the program is Avery Williams (5-10, 173) out of Washington, D.C.
Defensive end Bruce Irvin (6-3, 235), is a ''big, explosive pass rusher,'' Stewart says. ''We were absolutely thrilled. We had to fight them off, this was a tough one. This is a JUCO Player of the Year, probably the No. 1 pass rusher in America. We need that.''
Trevor Demko (6-6, 245) is another defensive end the Mountaineers identified to provide future help at a position that was thin at times in 2009.
Along the offensive line, Quinton Spain, another Army All-American game participant, is the big name, and he's a big guy at 6-6, 330. Stewart saw him play basketball and couldn't have been more impressed. He thinks his versatility could make him a candidate to play defense, if needed, some day.
Marquis Wallace (6-5, 290) was the other offensive linemen to sign with West Virginia.
Stewart brought in three linebackers Doug Rigg (6-1, 215) out of Oradell, N.J., Troy Gloster (6-0, 200) out of Germantown, Md., and Jewone Snow (6-3, 230) out of Canton, Ohio.
The coaches says Rigg can run and hit, and that it's always a coup to get kids out of Canton, particularly when their fathers went to Michigan, as was the case with Snow. Years ago, Stewart tried to get Gloster's brother at West Virginia. Drew Gloster ultimately chose Maryland, but Stewart always stayed in contact with Troy.
''Every time we talked to Drew, we would talk to Troy,'' Stewart said. ''You always recruit the little brother. Never neglect the little brother. This is a great reward from about eight years ago.''