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ViolaÚ Holgerson Happy With Haul

February 5, 2014
By TONY VIOLA , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN -Quarterbacks seem to be everything in the Big 12.

It's only fitting that the question on everyone's mind was whether or not West Virginia nabbed one on National Signing day.

The answer is yes. Yes, it did.

Baltimore native William Crest leads a class of 21 players who committed to WVU on Wednesday. Rivals and ESPN both rank the class as the 37th best in the nation.

''We've done a lot of the same things as last year with this recruiting class,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. ''We had recruits from 14 different states, and this year we've got 11 states covered. Our overall numbers right now are at 22 for this year's class. We had six guys come in at the semester. They've all been working out and doing a great job.''

While Crest, the No. 7-rated, dual-threat quarterback by Rivals, is sure to please fans with visions of Pat White running around defenses still in their heads, the real gem of this class seems to be cornerback Dravon Henry.

The Aliquippa Pa., native was ranked as the top prospect in the state by ESPN and turned down offers from Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State, among others, to become a Mountaineer. Holgorsen will likely place the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Henry at safety.

''I'm really excited about our safeties,'' Holgorsen said. ''Obviously that starts with Henry. (Tony) Gibson is Mr. Pittsburgh right now and did a great job getting up there and getting him. To be able to get a guy like Henry, who is one of the better players in Pittsburgh and the whole state of Pennsylvania, and can play a lot of different positions is great. We will be able to use him to put together what we think will be one of the greater secondaries in college football. We will continue to develop and the younger guys will get better.''

Holgosen and company also received a pleasant surprise when running back Donte Thomas-Williams chose WVU instead of Florida State.

A native of Durham, N.C., Thomas-Williams (6-0, 221) finished with 2,400 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns as a senior and also had 20 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns at Hillside High. He earned a four-star ranking by ESPN, 247Sports, Rivals and Scout.

''He was one of our highest targets at running back,'' Holgorsen said. ''The guys did a great job of identifying him. He's a big kid, runs fast and is talented. He has a ton of upside. I'll give (Lonnie) Galloway and (JaJuan) Seider credit for dual-recruiting him. He's been up here three or four times and that'll work out good for us.''

Crest (6-2, 210) comes to Morgantown after he completed 122 of 216 passes for 2,232 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 672 yards and eight scores as a senior at Dunbar high.

''I hate saying too many good things about guys before they actually get here, but he's just a very eager guy,'' Holgorsen said of Crest. ''He's bright-eyed, he smiles, he lights up a room and people are drawn to him. His skillset is good. He's athletic and has broad shoulders and a strong arm. What's the adjustment period going to be from a mentality and knowledge standpoint? I can't answer that question until we actually start coaching him. His skill set is great, as well as his personality, leadership qualities and home life. He's a great kid, and people are drawn to him.''

Crest isn't the only signal caller in this class, though.

Junior College transfer Skylar Howard will join Crest along with Paul Millard and Clint Trickett to compete for the starting job. Redshirt freshman Ford Childress is no longer with the program for reasons that have not yet been made public.

Howard (5-11, 200), who enrolled at WVU at the start of this semester, completed 67.4 percent of his passes at Riverside City College in Calif. for 3,151 yards and 33 touchdowns. JCGridiron.com ranked him as its No. 4 dual-threat junior college quarterback in 2014.

''I, as well as 1.8 million people, hope we can pick a starter out of these four,'' Holgorsen said. ''If you look at our situation, Trickett got hurt, and then got better and then got hurt. He'll get better in the offseason with just mentality, and Millard will continue to get better. With that said, both of their performances weren't good enough. Hopefully they get better, or someone will pass them up.

''With that said, we've been very candid with those guys as that being the current situation. Howard is here and is studying hard, is throwing with the guys and is here a lot. I haven't been able to coach him yet, but obviously Coach (Shannon) Dawson did a great job watching him through 11 games and getting him on campus. The film supports what we think he can be.''

In total, West Virginia received letters of intent from five offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three cornerbacks, three linebackers, three wide receivers, two Quarterbacks, a safety and a running back. Pitt transfer Rushel Shell was put on scholarship for the spring semester and will count in this class.

Tony Viola can be reached via email at tviola@theintelligencer.net

 
 

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