Jack Allison Heads West Liberty’s 2020 Recruiting Class

West Virginia quarterback Jack Allison (11) attempts a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

WEST LIBERTY — Jack Allison, a graduate transfer quarterback from West Virginia University who threw for more than 270 yards in a post-season bowl game for the Mountaineers, heads up a 2020 recruiting class that has created a lot of buzz around the West Liberty football program.

While the Hilltoppers are still finalizing the paperwork on a few late-comers, veteran coach Roger Waialae’s current list contains an impressive 24-man mix of high school seniors, early enrollees and transfers from other 2- and 4-year institutions.

Allison, who had announced in November that he would be leaving WVU and entering the NCAA transfer portal, broke the news of his commitment to the Hilltoppers himself on social media a week ago. Waialae provided some insight into how a Mountaineer became a Hilltopper.

“One of our current players was in Morgantown visiting some friends on the football team,” Waialae said. “They happened to run into Jack and talked about what it was like to play here and go to school here. Apparently, that sparked his interest in the program because Jack gave me a call. After we talked, Coach (Brandon) Tate and Coach (Chris) Riley took over the recruiting process.

“Jack had gone home to Florida so we walked around campus with an iPad giving him a virtual tour so he could see what the campus was like. I talked to him more specifically about what we do offensively and Coach Tate and Coach Riley got back together with him and sealed the deal.”

Allison will sit out spring drills while tying up some loose ends back home in Florida but plans to hit the ground running — or throwing, as the case may be — when preseason camp kicks off in August.

“The first thing you notice about Jack is the big-time arm,” Waialae said. “He was ranked one of the top pocket passers in the country coming out of high school. He’s seen a lot of collegiate action at a very high level so he understands the speed of the game. I really like his maturity level and work ethic, as well.

“He’ll still have to prove it on the field when he gets here. We have three returning quarterbacks (junior letterman Erick Taylor along with redshirt freshmen Jamie Diven and Jordan Wood) who will be competing in the spring. When August gets here, I’ll go with the quarterback who gives us the best chance to win.”

A former 4-star recruit out of Palmetto (Fla.) High School, Allison turned down Alabama and several other SEC schools to sign with the University of Miami. He sat out a redshirt year with the Hurricanes, suffered a shoulder injury in spring drills and transferred to West Virginia.

He was the Mountaineers’ 2017 Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year while sitting out his transfer season and wound up playing in 10 games over two seasons at WVU. His two biggest performances came in the 2018 Camping World Bowl against Syracuse when he completed 17 of 35 passes for 277 yards and a TD and this past season when he completed 18 of 24 passes for 140 yards and a score against Iowa State.

While Allison’s signing attracted the bulk of the attention, Waialae was just as excited about the rest of the Hilltoppers’ 2020 recruiting class.

“We were already looking at one of the strongest high school classes we’ve had in years,” Waialae said. “We always go hard after offensive and defensive linemen and three of our guys (Brenden Luffey, Dominick Thomas, Elijah Mike) were among the six finalists for the inaugural Bill Fralic Award as the top high school lineman in Western Pennsylvania.

“We got some really good local guys from the OVAC and just signed a transfer from Northern Colorado (Brodrick Thomas) who was the leading tackler and captain of his Texas state championship team in high school. I’m excited for the start of spring ball but I can’t wait to see all these guys on the field in August.”

Waialae and his Hilltoppers begin spring drills on March 20.


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