The WVU football team lost out on the top-rated recruit from the Mountain State in the Class of 2017. On Wednesday, South Charleston’s Derek Pitts decided to commit to Penn State over his native WVU.
The thing about that, though. Pitts has no direct ties to West Virginia University, the Mountaineers or head coach Dana Holgorsen. Just because Pitts was from West Virginia, he did not need to be wearing the old gold and blue.
It would have been nice, yes, because Pitts is highly regarded as a four-star recruit with blazing speed, a knack for getting to the football and making plays.He was garnering attention from all over the country with upwards of 30 offers from the top football schools in the country.
Really, he is no different than any other Division I prospect. What was unique about Pitts is that he’s from a state that doesn’t always produce elite talent, like it has been this season.
There are about seven prep prospects playing high school in football this season who will likely play at a Division I school. Some, like Pitts, have already made their college decision.
Capital linebacker Dorian Etheridge is going to Louisville, Point Pleasant offensive lineman Seth Stewart committed to LSU and Spring Valley offensive lineman Riley Locklear has announced his intentions to play at Tennessee.
Locklear, like Etheridge, Stewart and Pitts may not be diehard fans of the Mountaineers, like most of the 1.8 million people who live within the Mountain State boundaries. In fact, the Locklear family has their own pre-established alliances.
“Locklear’s family are big Marshall people, and his brother plays there, so he didn’t grow up a WVU fan,” said Rivals recruiting writer Keenan Cummings of WVSports.com. “That was always going to be an uphill battle. Odds were he was never coming to West Virginia. He apparently was going to FSU or Tennessee.”
He chose the Volunteers and he will not regret his decision.
A wealth of talent is leaving the Mountain State. Good for them. Seriously.
Just because a top recruit doesn’t play for their home state doesn’t mean that the entire system of recruiting is broken. States like Texas, Florida and Ohio produce elite football players for the rest of the country to take advantage of and adopt has their own. West Virginia, the state, should be proud of the rise of their prep prospects.
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Plus, by schools from the ACC and SEC coming in to target the Mountain State’s recruits, that allows for greater exposure to all young athletes across the state.
In a small state like West Virginia, any added influence is a good sign. If top college football programs want to come in and take a look, by all means they should be allowed. It is not the WVU football team’s responsibility to lock down every player who happens to be a top recruit within the state.
The Mountaineers, and head coach Dana Holgorsen, have already done a great job at stocking the roster with players from West Virginia. There are currently 26 players from West Virginia in the program, with more on the way, as Holgorsen offered a wealth of walk-on opportunities to other players from around the Mountain State.
In the Class of 2017, linebacker Maverick Wolfley of Morgantown has committed to the Mountaineers. His family members are Mountaineers, through and through.
That’s not the case with the other prep players. In fact, it’s probably cooler for these kind of players to head out of the state. The WVU influence is strong throughout the state of West Virginia because it is the biggest show in every small town throughout the Mountain State. Not everybody is a WVU football fan, but someone who lives next door to them like is a diehard Mountaineers supporter.
When the Mountaineer drum is beating loudly, it’s good to see what else the country has to offer.
These recruits will find a home somewhere else. Actually, they could flip their commitments by the time signing day rolls around next year.
Still, it’s up to a recruit to do what is best for him and his family. The Mountaineers will do that, too.
Holgorsen will get his guys. Life will go on in the college football world.