Predicting the Impact of WVU’s Early Signee Class

WVU’s group of 20 early signees is a huge injection of talent into the program, particularly in areas where the team needs it most. This class is loaded with talent at defensive back and offensive line, two areas where depth and new talent is needed. While many of these young men will redshirt their first year on campus, several will see playing time in their true freshman year, and some may even be day one starters. Below is my prediction of who we will see early, and additional thoughts on who could go on to be a standout talent.

Jacoby Spells

Position: Cornerback

Measurables: 5’11”, 170lbs, 10.8 100M time

Ranking: 4 star, 27th by position, 223rd overall

Projection: Jacoby should see time early as a rotational player in the secondary. Daryl Porter Jr. and Charles Woods should retain their starting roles with Nicktroy Fortune seeing significant playing time as well. However, don’t be surprised if by the end of the season, Spells is atop the depth chart for one of the outside corner spots. Long term, Spells has the upside to be a true shutdown cornerback that ends up on an All-American Team before moving on to the NFL.

Nicco Marchiol

Position: Quarterback

Measurables: 6’2″ 216 lbs

Ranking: 4 star, 20th by position, 278th overall

Projection: Nicco has set lofty expectations for WVU fans before he has even step foot on Mountaineer Field. It’s understandable, though, as his senior year included him being named the Gatorade Arizona High School Football Player of the Year and MaxPreps Arizona Football Player of the Year, throwing for over 2,600 yards and 37 touchdowns, and leading his team to the state semi-finals. However, starting as a true freshman quarterback is rare, even for some of the most elite recruits. Enrolling early should help with that though. I do not anticipate Nicco being the starter for game 1 at Pittsburgh. His playing time is dependent on 1.) if Jarret Doege returns, 2.) how Jarret Doege performs if he returns, and 3.) the teams record. Assuming Doege Returns, I predict he will be the week one starter, but if he falters or the team stumbles out of the gates, Nicco should take over control of the offense. Once Nicco does take over the starting job, he has the upside to be an All-Big 12 level talent as well as the talent to be at least a mid to late round draft choice after his career at WVU is over.

Christian Stokes

Position: Defensive back

Measurables: 6’0″ 180 lbs

Ranking: 3 star, 43rd by position, 482nd overall

Projection: Christian Stokes is a versatile athlete that excelled both defensively and offensively in high school, registering 94 tackles, 4 sacks, and one interception defensively and over 2,000 all purpose yards and 17 touchdowns offensively. He was a swiss army knife for Harper Woods. At WVU, Stokes will play defensive back, and it is likely that he is at least a rotational player early in the season. With his nose for the football combined with the departure of Scottie Young Jr. and Sean Mahone, Stokes will be in contention for one of the vacant safety spots. Long term, Stokes has All-Big 12 upside and should be a 3+ year starter.

Corbin Page

Position: Tight End

Measurables: 6’5″ 257 lbs

Ranking: 3 star, 24th by position, 483rd overall

Projection: Corbin Page is rated as the top recruit in West Virginia, and he has the talent and size to contribute early for the Mountaineers. He is as big or bigger than every tight end currently on the roster was highly lauded for his strong hands (11 touchdowns his senior year) and blocking ability (several schools recruited him as an offensive lineman). Going into his true freshman year, he will likely back up Mike O’Laughlin and be on the field in WVU’s 2 tight end sets. Long term, Page should be a 3+ year starter who excels in run blocking and as a safety blanket for the quarterback. His production will only be limited by the offense’s desire to get the tight end involved in the passing game.

Mumu Bin-Wahad

Position: Cornerback

Measurables: 6’0″ 180 lbs

Ranking: 3 star, 72nd by position, 870th overall

Projection: Mumu is an athletic, under the radar recruit that many other Power 5 schools rushed to flip after WVU received his commitment in June 2021. During his senior year, he picked off 6 passes and registered 64 tackles. Despite this recruiting class bringing in numerous defensive backs, Mumu should see spot duties playing this year on defense and plenty of reps on special teams. However, it is likely that he earns a starting spot his sophomore year and serves as the start for the remainder of his WVU career. With Mumu and Spells as the starting corners, Big 12 defenses will have a hard time getting the ball to their top targets on the outside.

Lee Kpogba

Position: Linebacker

Measurables: 6’2″ 235 lbs

Ranking: 3 star (JUCO),1st by position, 9th overall

Projection: Kpogba has the athleticism and aggressiveness to be a disruptive force at linebacker for WVU. The former Syracuse linebacker comes into a WVU locker room that is desperate for a playmaker at the linebacker position. I project that Kpogba will win the middle linebacker job vacated by Josh Chandler-Semedo, and will provide Mountaineer fans some excited with his sideline to sideline speed and ability to make splash plays.

Marques McLaurin

Position: Safety

Measurables: 6’2″ 200 lbs

Ranking: 3 star (JUCO), 4th by position, 24th overall

Projection: Like Stokes, McLaurin comes in at just the right time and situation. His nose for making plays (19 pass breakups, 7 interceptions) combined with his intelligence should make him a day one starter at the free safety spot vacated by Alonzo Addae’s graduation. Expect McLaurin to man “centerfield” for the next 3 years and, eventually, be named to an All-Big 12 team.

Oliver Straw

Position: Punter

Measurables: 6’3″ 220 lbs

Ranking: 3 star, 2nd by position

Projection: Ollie Straw isn’t just another punter. First, he is on a full scholarship, which is rare for special team players (see Casey Legg not being on scholarship until halfway through 2021). Additionally, he comes from PropKick Australia, a program that has produced 5 Ray Guy Award winners. Ollie will take over as the starting punter for the next 4 years.

Jeremiah Aaron

Position: Wide receiver

Measurables: 6’0″ 185 lbs

Ranking: Unranked (JUCO)

Projection: Jeremiah comes into a loaded WVU receiving room, but he should make an impact with his penchant for big plays. He finished his 2nd year at Navarro College leading the nation in all purpose yards per game and second in receiving yards per game. Aaron will likely be a rotational player on offensive. However, his true impact should come on special teams, where I believe he will be the day one starter as punt and kick returner. Long term, Aaron should move in to a full time starter role at receiver after this season with Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Sam James, and Winston Wright slated to graduate. I believe that Aaron will slot into Sam James’s or Winston Wright’s spot and be called upon often to make a big play down field.

Lynn-J Dixon

Position: Running Back

Measurables: 5’10” 194 lbs

Ranking: N/A (transfer)

Projection: Lynn-J Dixon is an explosive athlete who ranks 2nd all time for yards per carry at Clemson, and he will be bringing a different look to WVU’s backfield compared to Leddie Brown’s physical running style. Dixon will likely be the starting running back coming in to his first year at WVU. However, mostly due to his build, I don’t see Dixon being a true “bellcow” like Leddie. Dixon will mostly likely take a large share of the work (60%) with a more physical back like Tony Mathis Jr. or Jaylen Anderson taking on the remaining snaps.

Zeiqui Lawton

Position: Defensive End

Measurables: 6’3″ 266lbs

Ranking: N/A (transfer)

Projection: Another former West Virginia native returning home! Lawton has an impressive combination of size, strength, and athleticism. While Lawton did not see playing time in his freshman year at Cincinnati, he will likely step into another former West Virginia Natives spot: Dante Stills. Long term, Lawton should be a 3+ year starter for the Mountaineers.

Likely redshirts:

Travious Lathan – Linebacker

Landed Livingston – Offensive Line

Jarrell Williams – Wide Receiver

Raleigh Collins III – Linebacker

Aaric Burton – Edge

Sullivan Weidman – OT

Maurice Hamilton – Guard/Center

De’Carlo Donaldson – Tight End

Asani Redwood – Edge

Tyrin Woodby – Defensive Back

Charlie Katarincic – Guard/Center

Check out more analysis of my analysis on this recruiting class by listening to the Voice of Motown Podcast. Subscribe and listen below: