West Virginia will return one of the least experiences teams in the country next season.
The coaching staff's recruiting class has the potential to help that situation.
Of the 25 commitments that signed a Letter of Intent on Wednesday, nine will be coming in from junior colleges. It's a recruiting strategy that is becoming more popular in college football and one that the Mountaineers are clearly buying into.
"One thing I've seen change in college football is the amount of junior college kids being recruited," said Dana Holgorsen. "In my years in Texas Tech and even Houston and Oklahoma State, it wouldn't be unlikely to not sign any junior college players. If you look at what's happening this year, a lot of people are going after junior college players, and we were after a bunch and weren't able to get some of them and were able to land nine, which is still a pretty good number."
If there was a year in which some more experienced recruits would be needed, though, it would be this one. Holgorsen said that they took a hard look at bringing in some pass rushers.
There was also the issue of replacing all of those skill players that the Mountaineers lost.
"From a receivers standpoint, we have zero production coming back," Holgorsen said. "I mean, the oldest guy on our receiving corps right now is Kevin White. Other than that, we've got a bunch of freshmen and sophomores that are going to be out there, so it adds experience there."
White is one of three junior college receivers that were brought in, along with Mario Alford and Ronald Carswell. The group also features running back Dreamius Smith, defensive end Dontrill Hyman, offensive lineman Stone Underwood, linebackers d'Vante Henry and Brandon Golson, and punter Nick O'Toole.
West Virginia has gone the junior college route before, pulling in players like Bruce Irvin, but this year's class contains an unusually high number. The experience that comes with that is valuable, but there needs to be a balance.
"I don't think anyone would have been happy to add 25 of them," Holgorsen said, "so you've got to identify some guys that you have needs for. You don't want to bring guys in that you don't have a need for, and we had a need for those guys."
Kansas State has used junior college players consistently under Bill Snyder and has seen success in doing so. The Wildcats put together the best scoring defense in the Big 12 last year with a unit full of junior college players.
It's a matter of bringing guys in that will fit on a team, which is what Holgorsen tried to do with this group.
"It's something that we've talked about for quite awhile," he said, "and identifying those guys is not easy. You've got to spend a lot of time identifying the guys, making phone calls and then going and seeing them, and seeing if they're your type of guys."
The junior college signees come from all over the country, which is also true of the class as a whole. The 25 players come from 15 different states, and this coaching staff put a much smaller emphasis on Florida than in years past.
Those players fresh out of high school will have their work cut out for them, competing for playing time with both the returning players and the junior college recruits.
"Like I mentioned defensively, we needed pass rushers and to get some grown men- these guys are 6'4", 6'5", 6'6"- that physically will be able to compete in the Big 12," Holgorsen said. "Those guys need to come in and play right away, otherwise we wouldn't have gone the junior college route."
Now that they've gone that route, they can only hope that it