February 01, 2017

West Virginia has gone the junior college route again to shore up a defense that lost most of its starters.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen announced the signing of seven defensive backs among his 21 recruits Wednesday.

Ten of those had signed early and are already enrolled in school to get a jump on next season. They include junior college defensive linemen Jalen Harvey and Ezekiel Rose, linebacker Quondarius Qualls and cornerback Hakeem Bailey. Harvey and Qualls were teammates at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

Holgorsen, who must replace quarterback Skyler Howard, did not sign any quarterbacks on Wednesday but said it's possible another could be added in the coming months.

Holgorsen has said he expects Florida transfer Will Grier, suspended by the NCAA in October 2015 for one year for testing positive to performance enhancing drugs, to be eligible for the start of the 2017 season. Chris Chugunov is the only other quarterback on the roster with playing experience. Backup William Crest announced his intention to transfer in January.

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Other things to know:

Top 25 Class: No

Best in class: Kelby Wickline, ol, Jones County (Miss.) JC, son of West Virginia assistant coach Joe Wickline.

Best of the rest: DB Derek Pitts, South Charleston (W.Va.) HS; WR David Sills, a former Mountaineer backup who spent last season playing quarterback at California's El Camino College.

Late addition: Isaiah Hardy, ol, 6-7, 340, Lackawanna (Pa.) CC

One that got away: Four-star WR Danny Davis of Springfield (OH) HS signed with Wisconsin.

How they'll fit in: In the high-scoring Big 12, West Virginia has gone hard after junior college transfers to get immediate help, especially on defense. The Mountaineers must replace the entire defensive line, a pair of starting linebackers and most of the secondary. Some of the early signees, including Harvey, Rose, Qualls and Bailey, could see significant playing time in 2017.

''Adding guys who physically are ahead of the curve, which is what junior colleges are about, and getting them at midterm allows you to get that team ready a little bit quicker,'' Holgorsen said.

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For the full list: http://www.wvusports.com

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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