Ranking the Best WVU Recruiting Gems Since 2010
Earlier this week, we took a look at some of the biggest recruiting busts since 2010. Well, today we look at ten recruits who played well above their high school ratings and expectations coming into the program. So, let's get to it!
10. WR Daikiel Shorts Jr. (2013)
Coming out of high school, Shorts was considered to be a complimentary receiver. Instead, he became Mr. Reliable on third downs and in clutch situations throughout his career. Not even the folks in Morgantown believed he could ever become a No. 1 option, but he never needed to be. He excelled in his role and got a shot as an undrafted free agent with the Buffalo Bills before he pursued a career in coaching, where he is on Dana Holgorsen's staff at Houston.
9. WR Ka'Raun White (2015)
Ka'Raun was easily the most overlooked of the three White brothers as the only other offers he held were Akron and Idaho. Although he never amounted to the type of player his brother Kevin was, he had a very successful career and became one of the team's top targets throughout the 2017 campaign. He finished that season with 61 receptions for 1,004 yards and 12 touchdowns.
8. OT Colton McKivitz (2015)
McKivitz was offered by a slew of MAC schools and West Virginia, so it was a rather easy choice for the Belmont, Ohio native. He came to Morgantown a little raw, but developed at a fast rate which allowed him to see the field early on in his collegiate career. He's been a staple on the Mountaineers' offensive line over the past few years and is now preparing for the 2020 NFL Draft.
7. OT Yodny Cajuste (2014)
When you talk about hidden gems, Yodny Cajuste is the exact definition of that meaning. He was right in Florida and Florida State's backyard and the Mountaineers got in on him early and won him over. He played on both sides of the ball in high school and quite honestly, had the talent to play on the defensive line, but was better suited to be West Virginia's anchor at left tackle for four years. Despite battling a few injuries, Cajuste was able to play his way into the NFL as he was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 2019 NFL Draft.
6. RB Wendell Smallwood (2013)
Smallwood burst onto the scene in 2014, eclipsing the 700-yard mark, but really broke-through during his junior season rushing for 1,519 yards and nine touchdowns. He became the first player in team history to lead the Big 12 in rushing yards for an individual season.
5. QB Skyler Howard (2014)
By far the most underrated player to ever play at West Virginia, Howard still doesn't get the respect he deserves. He led the Mountaineers to a 10-win season and is the only quarterback to do so since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012. Not one school offered Howard out of high school at FBS level, so he chose to walk-on at Stephen F. Austin as a running back, before transferring to Riverside Community College to chase after his dreams as a quarterback. He may not have boasted the greatest numbers of all-time, but he ranks in the top five in many passing categories in school history. And if you think he is too high on this list, just imagine what the 2015 and 2016 seasons would have been like without him as the starter...
4. DL Darius Stills (2017)
Although Stills has one season remaining in Morgantown, I had to include him on this list. At one point, he was Rutgers bound before West Virginia finally came in with an offer. Many believe Holgorsen and company just offered so that they had a good chance to land his brother, Dante. Well, what they didn't know is that he would become the team's best defensive lineman by his junior season. He finished this past season with 43 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six sacks. Another stellar season could put him at the top of NFL scouts' draft charts.
3. LB David Long Jr. (2015)
As an undersized linebacker, no one expected much from David Long, but I loved his film coming out of high school and thought he would be a playmaker for the Mountaineers- I just didn't think he would be THAT good. He was known as Mr. TFL as he constantly wreaked havoc in the backfield, especially during his last two seasons where he combined for 35 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
2. LB Nick Kwiatkoski (2011)
"Kwiat" only had a handful of offers coming out of Bethel Park High School in Pennsylvania with the only other Power Five school involved being Boston College. He had a tremendous five-year career and went on to be one of the more consistent, reliable linebackers in the team's recent history. Kwiatkoski was not only good at stopping the run, but in pass coverage as well.
1. WR Kevin White (2013)
One of the most exciting receivers to ever lace up for the old gold and blue was an absolute hidden gem. The Mountaineers plucked him out of Lackawanna junior college and had a breakout senior season in 2014. He dominated in the first game of the season against No. 2 Alabama posting 143 yards on nine receptions and one touchdown - which turned some heads. He's had a rough time staying healthy since joining the NFL, but college programs across the nation wish they had pursued him. Texas Tech was the only other Power Five school to extend White an offer, which is quite shocking. He was named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and was No. 7 overall pick by the Chicago Bears.
What are your thoughts on the list? Let us know you thoughts in the comment section below!
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