West Virginia University's football program won't announce the recruits that will make up its 2012 class until early February, but that hasn't stopped five future Mountaineers from making the trek to Morgantown to enroll early and begin their football careers at WVU.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen announced on Monday that five players have enrolled for the spring 2012 semester. The group includes quarterback Ford Childress, defensive tackle Imarjaye Albury, wide receiver Jordan Thompson and safeties Karl Joseph and Sean Walters.
As a starter the past two seasons at Houston Kinkaid High School (Texas), Childress led his team to a 20-1 mark, winning back-to-back Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC) championships.
The 6-foot, 4-inch signal-caller completed 184-of-292 passes for 3,171 yards and 41 touchdowns with only seven interceptions in 10 games as a senior. He threw for 300 or more yards in six games and 400 plus yards in another -numbers that appear to be a perfect fit in Holgorsen's pass-oriented spread attack.
More importantly, Childress will have a year to play behind veteran Geno Smith, who is coming off of a record-breaking performance in WVU's 70-33 win over Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl.
With little, or no, pressure placed upon him to contribute immediately, Childress should have more than enough time to learn the Mountaineers' offensive scheme and be prepared to battle Paul Millard for the starting job in 2013.
Thompson's addition will also go a long way in filling a hole for the old gold and blue. The Katy (Texas) High School standout finished 2011 with 66 receptions for 1,117 receiving yards (17.8 ypc) and 17 touchdowns.
At 5-foot, 9-inches and 163 pounds, Thompson will immediately draw comparisons to WVU's Tavon Austin. And, just like Childress, the return of the Big East's Special Teams Player of the Year will give him an opportunity to learn the playbook without having to contribute immediately.
Defensively, the loss of standouts Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller from WVU's 3-3-5 stack alignment will be huge. However, the addition of Albury, who finished 2011 with 45 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and four sacks, hopefully will ease those losses while the additions of Joseph and Walters to the secondary can only give the Mountaineers much needed depth in a defensive backfield that requires a minimum of five players on every down.
Joseph recorded 126 tackles (97 solo) as a senior at Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla., while Walters finished with 89 tackles, 29 pass breakups and one interception during his final season at Hallandale High School in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The addition of the five, however, will not count toward WVU's allotment of 25 scholarships -the maximum allowed by the NCAA for any one recruiting class. In fact, the quintet will count toward last year's recruiting class, that brought in only 18 players.
More importantly, the early enrollments will keep the Mountaineers from losing those scholarships and will allow Holgorsen and his staff to sign as many as 32 players for the upcoming season. Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org