After a 5-7 season, head coach Neal Brown has to be hoping that the 2020 recruiting class will help make an impact early on to get the West Virginia football program back on track. With the talent brought in from both the high school and junior college ranks, there are certainly some intriguing possibilities for which newcomers could see the field early.
DL Quay Mays
Mays brings depth and versatility to a defensive line that is replacing a three-year starter in Reese Donahue and an impact transfer in Reuben Jones. While Mays will likely spend a good bit of time on the line’s interior, that will allow Jeffery Pooler and Darius Stills to slide out to the edge more often, teaming with Dante Stills to cause havoc for Big 12 quarterbacks.
The nephew of former Mountaineer defensive back Alvoid Mays, is already on campus as an early enrollee and will be able to get in the rotation during spring practice. Mays has the frame to take up a ton of space up the middle and brings sneaky athleticism that allows him to chase down ball carriers in space.
West Virginia struggled at times to stop the run in 2019 and a big space eater like Quay Mays could be just what the doctor ordered for Vic Koenning’s second defense in Morgantown.
OL Tairiq Stewart
It’s no secret that West Virginia struggled on the offensive line in 2019. With the status of JUCO All-American Jacob Gamble up in the air, it is left up to Stewart to bring an immediate impact up front.
Where Matt Moore places Stewart will be interesting as recruiting services list him as a guard but at 6’4”, 318 pounds, he definitely has the size to slide out to tackle. With both of the Mountaineers’ bookends graduated, it should be expected that Stewart will at least be considered for a move outside when he gets to campus this summer.
The addition of the Cleveland native at least brings options to a thin offensive line that has seen struggles due to youth, injuries, and a lack of development in recent years. Tairiq Stewart may have to play right away and if any of the Mountaineers’ recruits will be ready to hit the trenches right away, it’s him.
OL Zach Frazier
The struggles that the Mountaineers had on the offensive line often stemmed from a lack of consistency at the center position. Chase Behrndt proved to work better in a guard role, Briason Mays battled snapping troubles and Josh Sills spent most of the season on the bench with injury and has since transferred.
Despite being just a freshman, Fairmont native Zach Frazier could have an impact early on as a result of these problems. A guard in high school, the teammate of the Stills brothers spent much of his senior season doing extra work to perfect his snapping.
Additionally, what Frazier lacks for in experience, he makes up for with intelligence and elite leverage skills. The latter of these two is evident in his exploits off the field, winning a trio of West Virginia state heavyweight wrestling championships while appearing to be well on his way to a fourth consecutive title.
One of the biggest things valued by the coaching staff at West Virginia is work ethic and Zach Frazier has proven to carry that in spades, making him a likely option for early playing time in gold and blue.
EDGE Lanell Carr
Vic Koenning’s defense is predicated on creating havoc and if anyone in this recruiting class is going to do that next year, it's bandit linebacker Lanell Carr.
Carr combined strength and an outstanding burst off the edge with a very high motor to bring chaos to backfields all over Missouri and it seems likely that he will do the very same in the Big 12. Depth in the second level was a major issue for the Mountaineers and Vandarius Cowan’s timeline to return from injury is currently up in the air.
There is an opportunity to be had for time on the field next season for Carr and his raw skills make it clear that he should be given that opportunity. A talent such as this at causing problems for opposing quarterbacks cannot be kept on the bench very long.
Lanell Carr appears to be one of the most likely freshman to play a considerable amount during the 2020 season.
CB David Vincent-Okoli
Versatility is key when trying to build a team from the ground up as Neal Brown is and David Vincent-Okoli brings that to the table at a high level.
Not only is Okoli the highest rated prospect in the class of 2020, but he also brings two things West Virginia desperately needs: coverage skills and speed. The Mountaineers lose both starting cornerbacks and the Maryland native can provide new blood at the position and should be given the opportunity to compete for the spot opposite Nicktroy Fortune this season.
In addition, his ability to play both ways in high school may just carry over into the college game. Okoli spent a good bit of time at receiver and has the top-end speed to return kicks and punts, a skill that may be his ticket to early playing time even if he gets beat out on defense.
David Vincent-Okoli is one of the most anticipated recruits in this class and West Virginia fans may not have to wait very long to see him on the field.