The transfer portal giveth and taketh away. The Mountaineers have seen a number of players enter the portal since the start of the 2021 season and will have to hit the portal themselves this offseason to add depth in some areas and potentially starters at other spots.
Who could West Virginia be targeting in the portal? Well, it's hard to get a good idea considering the amount of players that are in the portal but below are five names that seem to make sense for Neal Brown and his staff.
WR Frank Ladson (Clemson)
Can the Clemson to WVU pipeline strike twice this offseason? Possibly. The Mountaineers are in need of some help at receiver following the transfers of Sam Brown and Isaiah Esdale. Kaden Prather should be ready to step up into a solidified role alongside Winston Wright Jr. and Bryce Ford-Wheaton but you'd imagine that Neal Brown would like to have four guys he can rely on. Ladson could be a possibility. The 6'3", 205-pound receiver caught 31 passes for 428 yards and six touchdowns in 20 career games with the Tigers.
DE Zeiqui Lawton (Cincinnati)
Lawton, a Charleston, WV native, had West Virginia in his top five alongside Cincinnati, Boise State, Illinois, and Oregon before finally settling on the Bearcats. After spending one year with Cincinnati, Lawton is back on the market again and West Virginia is once again in the picture. Lawton told Mountaineer Maven that he has been in touch with the WVU staff and will be visiting WVU this weekend.
DE Joseph Boletepeli (Maryland)
Boletepeli had an interesting recruitment in the transfer portal a couple of years ago. After leaving NC State, he committed to West Virginia but ended up enrolling at Maryland instead. He recorded eight tackles and one tackle for loss in 2020 but did not appear in a game in 2021. Neal Brown has said publicly that they would ideally like to add another defensive lineman in the 2022 class, particularly one that can play right away. Given the previous ties, it makes sense.
S Dell Pettus (Troy)
Pettus is a former Neal Brown commit and is now looking for a change of scenery after head coach Chip Lindsey had been relieved of his duties. In three years at Troy, Pettus has tallied 175 tackles, three tackles for loss, eight pass breakups, and one interception. Some of the honors he has accrued over the last few years include 2019 Freshman All-American (Pro Football Focus), 2019 All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention, and 2020 All-Sun Belt Third Team.
S Ray Thornton (Clemson)
The one area on WVU's roster that probably needs the most help is the secondary. The Mountaineers are extremely low on numbers in the back end and those they do expect to have in 2022 have very little experience. Running back Lyn-J Dixon who transferred from Clemson to West Virginia mentioned Neal Brown in a tweet to try and convince him to go after Thornton. In 14 games with the Tigers, Thornton registered 21 tackles and one pass breakup. He could have up to four years of eligibility if he chooses to take advantage of his COVID year.
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