The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

February 2, 2012

WVU gets recruits to follow in alums' footsteps

BECKLEY — West Virginia continues to reap the benefits of recruits who follow in others’ footsteps.

Deontay McManus of Baltimore’s Dunbar High School signed a national letter of intent with the Mountaineers on Wednesday. It’s the same school that produced WVU star Tavon Austin.

The parade of recruits from Miami’s Miramar High School continued with the signing of wide receiver Devonte Mathis. He’s following Miramar alums Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey to WVU. But the Mountaineers couldn’t land Miramar’s biggest prize — defensive back Tracy Howard, who signed with Miami.

Orange Bowl champion West Virginia signed 21 recruits — 12 on offense. Eight are from the state of Florida, including four wide receivers. They add to the 20 players from the Sunshine State already on the roster.

“West Virginia’s always done well in Florida,” Holgorsen said. “The exposure we got down there I certainly don’t think hurt.”

While Austin is known for his speed, the 6-foot-1 McManus is more of a physical wide receiver. He led Dunbar to back-to-back state championships and chose the Mountaineers over 18 other scholarship offers, among them national champion Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State and Oregon.  

Although McManus didn’t return a telephone message, his coach at Dunbar, Lawrence Smith, said Austin’s connection to the Mountaineers had a lot to do with McManus’ signing. The pair share the same jersey number.

“He really looks up to Tavon and it’s going to be a good deal for him,” Smith said Wednesday.

McManus was a two-time all-state selection on defense. He caught 40 passes for 590 yards and six TDs this season and was solid on returns, much like Austin, the nation’s all-purpose yardage leader.

“We’re fired up about getting him over here as soon as we can to teach him what to do and to get him out there,” Holgorsen said. “Physically, I can tell you he’s ready to play at the next level.”

The 6-2 Mathis caught 35 passes for 552 yards and eight scores. In 2010 he played quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

“He did a whole bunch of things,” Holgorsen said. “And you talk about getting as many guys as you can with that body type that can play that many different positions, you’ve got a guy that’s going to be extremely productive.”

Holgorsen’s first recruiting class at West Virginia has two players from Texas. Two other players from Texas were added to the roster in January and are enrolled for the spring semester, including 6-4 quarterback Ford Childress.

“It’s a priority,” Holgorsen said of Texas.

Three players signed with the Mountaineers despite the departures of three assistant coaches who recruited them. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich and defensive backs coach David Lockwood joined Rich Rodriguez’s staff at Arizona last month. Two of the three vacancies have been filled and Holgorsen has said he’ll announce the coaching responsibilities once his staff is complete.

Three of the recruits are defensive linemen and two are linebackers. Holgorsen said WVU’s defense will switch from its longtime 3-3-5 scheme likely to a 3-4 for next fall, and he wanted to recruit more “edge rush” players who will fit that change.

Holgorsen signed four recruits apiece at defensive back and on the offensive line. Two are running backs and one is a tight end.

“We were able to get a little bit of everything,” he said.

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