Last week I examined the eleven athletes in the 2009 class who are no longer playing football in Morgantown.
While that's a large amount of attrition for one signing class, the players who have stuck around (56% of the signing class remains on the roster) have provided the fans with lots to cheer about over the past three seasons.
Have the accomplishments of these current players outweighed the 44% of their peers who are no longer with the team, even if it means a lack of depth at multiple positions and playing below the 85-man scholarship limit for multiple seasons?
Let's look at what the 2009 class produced (all rankings from Rivals.com):
Shawne Alston – Sr. – 3* RB from Hampton, Va.
Selected WVU over offers from Illinois, Maryland and Penn State
He enters his final season with WVU as the starting ‘B' back in Dana Holgorsen's offense. Alston tallied 12 rushing touchdowns last season and scored the winning touchdown in two of the final three regular season games. In the victory over Rutgers in October, he rushed for a career-high 110 yards. He saw limited action his freshman season and then played in every game in 2010, recording a season-high 75 rushing yards against Cincinnati. With a full season starting in the backfield, Alston could be a candidate to go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2012.
Tavon Austin – Sr. – 4* RB from Baltimore, Md.
Selected WVU over offers from Boston College, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Pitt and Rutgers
Austin enters his senior year as the nation's reining single season all-purpose yardage leader and is one of the most feared playmakers in all of college football. He shattered the all-time WVU single season receptions record last year (101) and was named an all-BIG EAST first-team performer at wide receiver, while also earning the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year award. Austin is quite possibly the most elusive playmaker to ever wear a WVU uniform, and Mountaineers everywhere will be forever grateful that former assistant coach Lonnie Galloway was able to secure and maintain his commitment over the likes of UNC, Michigan and Maryland. He enters the fall as the starting ‘Y' receiver in Holgorsen's offense as well as the No. 1 punt and kick returner.
Stedman Bailey – r-Jr. – 4* WR from Miramar, Fla.
Selected WVU over offers from Illinois, Iowa, Ole Miss, Rutgers, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin
While Austin has shown the ability to take the ball to the house on any play, Bailey has, somewhat quietly, turned into one of the most consistent receivers in Mountaineer history. Not only does he have the best hands on the team, but last season Bailey flashed the speed to become a dangerous deep threat. He finished 2011 with 1,279 receiving yards, which is the all-time WVU single season record, and 12 touchdowns on 72 receptions. His diving catch in the final seconds of the South Florida game last season led to the game-winning field goal, which ultimately allowed the Mountaineers to receive their Orange Bowl berth, and everyone knows how that turned out. Bailey will enter 2012 as the starting ‘X' receiver and team up with Austin on kickoff return duties.
Cole Bowers – r-Jr. – 3* OL from Ona, W.Va.
Selected WVU over offers from Marshall and Virginia
Bowers career has been a story of up-and-downs on the field. After redshirting his first year on campus, he saw action in 10 games in 2010 and started three of them at right guard. Bowers also registered seven knockdowns and was named to ESPN.com's all-BIG EAST freshman team. Last season, he found himself buried on the depth chart and only played in one contest (Norfolk State). While Bowers is still currently on the team, his name was nowhere to be found on the official two-deep depth chart following the conclusion of spring practice.
Will Clarke – r-Jr. – 2* DE from Pittsburgh, Pa.
Selected WVU over offers from Akron and Pitt
Clarke was the final signee in the 2009 class as he didn't ink his Letter of Intent until March 27th of that year. He played in four games in 2010 in a backup role, but his workload increased significantly last fall. Clarke appeared in all 13 games, starting 11 of them, and tallied 34 tackles (5.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks). He enters the 2012 season as the starting defensive tackle in the new 3-4 scheme being installed by first-year coordinator Joe DeForest. Before arriving at WVU, Clarke was listed at 240 pounds and now stands an impressive 6'6" and 269 pounds. He was named an Iron Mountaineer Award winner the past two years for his dedication in the weight room.
Darwin Cook – r-Jr. – 2* DB from Cleveland, Ohio
Selected WVU over an offer from Cincinnati
Coming out of Shaw High School, Cook was a speedy 180-pound defensive back unsure if he would wind up playing safety or cornerback on the next level. Three years later, he is a returning 13-game starter at safety who recorded 85 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries last fall. Cook is best known for his 99-yard fumble recovery in the Orange Bowl versus Clemson and running over Obie (Orange Bowl mascot) in the end zone afterwards. He enters the 2012 season as the starting boundary safety (strong side), but he is expected to be pushed in fall camp by true freshman Karl Joseph.
Pat Eger – r-Jr. – 3* OL from Jefferson Hills, Pa.
Selected WVU over offers from Buffalo, Marshall, Maryland and Miami (OH)
Eger started 12 games at right tackle on the Mountaineers' offensive line last fall after playing in three contests as a redshirt freshman. If he stays healthy and produces, Eger has an opportunity to become a three-year starter for the Mountaineers and be a vital part of some very talented offenses in Morgantown. He remains the starting right tackle entering the fall, but he could also be pushed in fall camp by incoming JUCO signee Mark Glowinski.
Curtis Feigt – r-Jr. – 2* OL from Mercerburg, Pa.
Selected WVU over an offer from Boston College
A native of Germany, Feigt played his sophomore year of high school football overseas before moving to the states. At WVU, he has slowly moved his way up the depth chart since his freshman season and currently finds himself backing up Eger at right tackle in the latest two-deep. Feigt saw very limited action in 2010 but appeared in four games last season, including a start late in the year against South Florida when Eger went down with an injury.
Terence Garvin – Sr. – 3* DB from Baltimore, Md.
Selected WVU over offers from Maryland and Syracuse
Garvin enters his senior season after starring the previous two years in the defensive backfield and tallying 24 career starts. After playing a backup role in 2009, Garvin started as a sophomore the following season and registered 76 tackles (4.5 TFL), two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Last fall, he continued to make plays for the Mountaineers (72 tackles, 5.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks) even though his season was cut short due to injury. Garvin had to miss the Orange Bowl in order to have surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his knee. As a result, Garvin also missed spring practice this year while rehabbing, but he is expected to make a full recovery and is currently slated as the No. 1 ‘STAR' linebacker on the depth chart.
Brodrick Jenkins – r-Jr. – 3* ATH from Fort Myers, Fla.
Selected WVU over offers from Boston College, Iowa, Louisville, N.C. State, Pitt, South Florida and Wisconsin
A native of former WVU great Noel Devine's hometown, Jenkins was recruited as an athlete but quickly moved to cornerback once arriving on campus. After being used as a backup cornerback in 2010 and appearing in all 13 games, he saw his role increase last fall as a redshirt sophomore and started the final three games of the season, including the Orange Bowl. Jenkins registered 27 tackles and two interceptions on the year and enters 2012 as the starting field cornerback (weak side) on the depth chart, in addition to backing up Austin as the main punt return threat.
Nick Kindler – r-Jr. – 3* OL from Camp Hill, Pa.
Selected WVU over offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers and Virginia
Kindler enters the upcoming season as the backup left tackle to Quinton Spain after providing depth last year and appearing in all 13 contests. Following a redshirt his first year on campus, he was a third-string offensive lineman in 2010 and did not see any playing time while battling an injury all season.
Pat Miller – Sr. – 3* DB from Birmingham, Ala.
Selected WVU over offers from Kentucky, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Oregon and UAB
Miller has sporadically been the subject of verbal abuse from Mountaineer fans over his collegiate career, but his 52-yard interception return for a touchdown against South Florida turned a few of those doubters into believers. After seeing backup time as a freshman, Miller started two games his sophomore year but was still behind on the depth chart to veterans Brandon Hogan and Keith Tandy. Last year, Miller received the majority of starts opposite Tandy and seemed to improve as the season progressed. He recorded two interceptions, both in the final two games of the season, and 66 tackles along with three pass break-ups. Miller is currently listed as the starting boundary cornerback, even though he missed the majority of spring practice after breaking a small bone in his right foot on April 3rd. He is expected to re-join the team this summer and be 100% for the start of fall camp.
Taige Redman – r-Jr. – 2* LB from Keyser, W.Va.
Selected WVU over offers from Marshall and Ohio
Redman's recruitment to WVU didn't seriously heat up until…well, National Signing Day. Previously that morning, the Mountaineers had lost out on LB target Ka'lial Glaud when he flipped a coin (literally) to decide between WVU and Rutgers, and ultimately the Scarlet Knights won out. That led to a phone call between the WVU staff and Redman, minutes before the high school linebacker was set to sign his Letter of Intent with Ohio University. Obviously, Redman had a change of heart after that call and the rest was history. On the gridiron, Redman saw his first live action last season, appearing in all 13 games on special teams. This offseason, the coaching staff awarded Redman as one of four Iron Mountaineer Award winners for his hard work in the weight room. He enters the fall as the third-string ‘WILL' linebacker, but his athleticism should get him on the field for defense and special teams.
Geno Smith – Sr. – 4* QB from Miramar, Fla.
Selected WVU over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Miami (FL), Michigan, Oregon and South Florida
This Floridian finished the 2011 season as the all-time single season passing leader in Mountaineer history, throwing for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns (7 INT) while completing 66% of his passes. During his junior year, he was named the Orange Bowl MVP and also garnered first-team all-BIG EAST honors. Smith began his career as a backup to Jarrett Brown and then leaped into the starting role during his sophomore season, when he threw for 2,763 yards and 24 touchdowns en route to first-team all-conference honors from ESPN.com. Smith boasts a 19-7 overall record during his two seasons as the starting signal-caller. Entering his senior season, he is listed as a Heisman candidate by almost every major media outlet and The Sporting News recently named him the 16th best player in college football.
And that completes your 2009 recruiting class.
Keep in mind that this crop of players doesn't reflect any transfers that may have entered the program during that time and improved the overall depth of the team.
However, looking at the bigger picture, there were twenty-five athletes signed that year, and fourteen of them are still around. Of that group, Austin, Bailey and Smith all have the potential to be second-round or higher NFL Draft picks in 2013 (assuming Bailey goes pro), and the star quarterback figures to be a legitimate Heisman contender this fall.
No head coach hopes for one of his recruiting classes to be almost half gone three years later, but the reality is that the average attrition rate for all of college football is probably only slightly below that 44% figure.
When you consider that 71% of the players who are still around from that class will have started multiple seasons at WVU by the end of this year and that the majority of them have the potential to play in some fashion on the next level, things could be worse for Mountaineer fans.
Add in the fact that three guys have the potential to be All-Americans this fall, and you'll be hard pressed to find many people complaining about the results of February 3rd, 2009, even if the overall depth of the team took a hit.