Part 1: The resurgence in West Virginia football's recruiting

West Virginia v UCF
West Virginia v UCF / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Ever since the final whistle blew in the esteemed Duke's Mayo Bowl, the West Virginia Mountaineers have worked to evolve into a team that’s now at the forefront of Big 12 discussions headed into 2024. In particular, their recent performances on the recruiting trail have not just turned heads, but also sparked lively conversations among fans, media, and recruits alike.

West Virginia has always had the infrastructure, culture, NIL, and brand to be competitive. However, it’s the recent victories that seem to be magnetizing recruits to the school. It’s as if the winning streak has shone a spotlight on what this school and staff can achieve, making West Virginia an increasingly attractive choice.

In the past week, Neal Brown and his team have made a remarkable ascent up the recruiting board. It’s important to note, however, that it’s only June. There’s a lot that can transpire between now and the moment the commitment papers are signed. But there is plenty of reason for optimism.

Just last week, the Mountaineers were nestled in the mid-40s nationally, keeping company with teams like Louisville, Cal, Miami, North Carolina, and Maryland. But as of now, they’ve risen to the 26th spot nationally and hold the 4th position in the Big 12. It’s a significant leap that speaks volumes about their progress.

While there’s still some distance to cover until the National Early Signing Day period from December 4th-6th, Brown has the golden opportunity to lead the Mountaineers to a top 30 class - a feat not achieved in Morgantown since 2009. In the past two weeks alone, the coaching staff has been on a remarkable run, securing commitments from a number of promising recruits.

The first of those recruits committed on June 9th as Elgin Sessions, a versatile safety from Dutch Fork High School, joined the West Virginia Mountaineers’ 2025 football class. With impressive stats including 39 tackles and four interceptions in his junior year, Sessions chose West Virginia over Duke, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Cincinnati, and other offers.

After watching the tape what really jumps out is Session's top-tier coverage skills and ball tracking ability. He’s agile, with the capacity to swiftly flip his hips and run during coverage situations. Sessions is also a robust tackler, providing valuable secondary support and often attempting to force a fumble. Despite his size, he plays with a larger presence on the field. His versatility allows him to fulfill various roles in the defensive backfield, making him a valuable asset for any team.

The next day the Florida pipeline proved alive and well for the Mountaineers as they received a big commitment from Romando Johnson. A versatile edge rusher from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Florida standing at 6 feet 3 inches and weighing 250 pounds, Johnson has showcased his exceptional skills on the field. In the previous season, he recorded 28 tackles, six sacks, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Despite receiving offers from numerous schools including Florida, Miami, Louisville, Penn State, Tennessee and others.

Johnson's tape does not disappoint. Johnson's initial move off the jump and his speed outmatches who he is going up against. He stays low to effectively disguise himself in the line to pounce at whoever has the ball. He seems to prefer the 2-point stance as Johnson has the quickness and elusiveness to get past offensive linemen. Effective against the run, Johnson has the potential to add good weight and keep his speed at the college level as he develops.

Along with Florida, the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) has been kind to the Mountaineers both historically and in this recruiting cycle. On June 12th, Taylor Brown, a defensive lineman hailing from Upper Marlboro, Maryland who stands at 6 feet 3 inches and weighing 250 pounds, joined the class. Brown is a force to be reckoned with on the field due to his size and speed. In his junior year, he recorded 22 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, and one pass deflection. Brown chose West Virginia over other offers such as Pitt, Temple, Buffalo, Marshall, and more.

Brown's tape shows an explosive first step off the line of scrimmage, which allows him to gain an immediate advantage over offensive linemen. His exceptional speed is a significant asset, enabling him to challenge blockers and consistently pressure quarterbacks. Additionally, Brown's agility makes him effective in rushing from a 2-point position, enhancing his versatility within different defensive schemes. His ability to challenge offensive tackles and execute powerful inside moves gives him a well-rounded profile that can be utilized in various defensive alignments. Brown's frame will allow him to carry more weight after an off-season or two but the Mountaineers will likely us him as an edge rusher for the time being.

In my upcoming articles in this series, we’ll delve into the profiles of other recruits as West Virginia continues its impressive climb up the board. Currently, it appears that 2-3 silent commits are poised to join the Mountaineers in the coming weeks. With the football season on the horizon, the anticipation is at an all time high. Under the leadership of Neal Brown, the Mountaineers are gearing up to make a splash in the college football scene.