Holgorsen Happy About Class

MORGANTOWN – National Letter of Intent Signing Day actually came two weeks early for Coach Dana Holgorsen and his West Virginia University Mountaineers when seniors-to-be Will Grier and David Sills V announced their intentions to return to campus for their final years of eligibility.

“Step 1 was to get them to come back,” Holgorsen said during Wednesday’s Heart of Dallas Bowl press conference. “Getting those juniors back was huge.”

Grier, who will miss the Mountaineers bowl contest against Pac-12-member Utah, led the team with 3,490 yards passing and 34 touchdowns — completing 250 of 388 attempts with 12 interceptions — but has been on the sidelines since suffering a broken finger on his throwing hand in a 28-14 loss to Texas.

Sills, who led the nation with 18 touchdown receptions, was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award — given annually to the top receiver in the country.

“They both felt like they have unfinished business,” Hologorsen said. “Will said he came here to win a Big 12 championship and David has only been a receiver for one year so he thought another year would benefit him more than leaving.”

The rest of the Class of 2018 includes a transfer placekicker from Western Kentucky and four junior college transfers.

“We’re still adding some pieces,” Holgorsen said. “We’ll be adding more pieces. I don’t expect we’ll sign anyone tomorrow (Thursday), but we’ll be adding some more pieces in February and probably still be adding pieces before we start practice in August.”

The 18-player class — WVU can sign as many as 26 this year — is evenly split with nine offensive players, eight defensive players and kicker Skyler Simcox, who helped Western Kentucky to an 11-3 record and a victory in the Boca Raton Bowl in 2016, converting 16 of 22 field goals and 70 of 71 PATs to rank second on the team with 118 points. He attended Abingdon High (Va.), where he tallied 57 points and made 39-of-41 PATs in 2014.

Making the transition from junior college to a Power 5 school will be offensive lineman Blaine Scott, linebacker Charlie Benton, safety Josh Norwood and cornerback Keith Washington.

The lone Mountain State signee was Fairmont Senior all-state defensive end Dante Stills, who will join older brother Darius on the Mountaineers’ prevent unit in 2018.

“Because we are a program of stability. We know who we are and what we’re looking for,” Holgorsen said. “A lot of places came knocking, but our guys remained loyal to us. We’ve hung onto more than we’ve lost and that hasn’t happened before.”

Class of 2018

WVU Recruiting Class

Blaine Scott, OL, 6-4, 330, West Portsmouth, Ohio/Sciotoville Community School

Randy Fields Jr., WR, 6-3, 192, Elkton, Md./St. Frances Academy

James Gmiter, DL, 6-3, 309, Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park HS

Briason Mays, OL, 6-4, 290, Bolivar, Tenn./Bolivar Central HS

Bryce Wheaton, WR, 6-5, 207, Fuquay-Varina, N.C. /Holly Springs

Dante Stills, DL, 6-4, 284, Fairmont, W.Va./Fairmont Senior HS

Skyler Simcox, K, 6-0, 190, Abingdon, Va./Abingdon HS/Western Kentucky

Mike O’Laughlin, TE, 6-5, 230, Glen Ellyn, Ill./Fenwick HS

T.J. Banks, TE, 6-5, 240, North Versailles, Pa./East Allegheny HS

Sam James, WR, 6-0, 171, Richmond, Hill, Ga./Richmond Hill HS

Josh Chandler, LB, 5-11, 226, Canton, Ohio/Canton McKinley HS

Charlie Benton, LB, 6-3, 215, Opelika, Ala./Opelika HS/Butler CC (Kan.)

Josh Norwood, S, 5-11, 175, Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta HS/Northwest Mississippi CC

Kwantel Raines, S, 6-3, 206, Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa HS

Keith Washington, CB, 6-2, 187, Prattville, Ala./Prattville HS/Michigan/Copiah-Lincoln CC

Trey Lowe, QB, 6-3, 198, Collierville, Tenn./Bolivar Central HS

Oyenmwen “Junior” Uzebu, OL, 6-6, 290, Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta HS

Tyrese Allen, DL, 6-3, 292, Paintsville, Ky./Paintsville HS

Contact Jim Butta via email at mountaineersman@outlook.com