Neal Brown didn’t miss a beat when it came to recruiting. His first full class sat right behind Holgorsen’s best class during his time at West Virginia. Now Neal Brown is tapping into Southern recruiting as he builds for the future.
Talent Down South
It isn’t a secret that West Virginia isn’t rich with football talent. It is already an uphill battle as they compete in a conference full of Texas schools. However, Neal Brown is fixing that.
Neal Brown didn’t have the luxury of a full recruiting cycle. In that short time he was still able to pull the 48th rated class, good for 4th in the Big 12. The 2020 class jumped up to 37th in the country and still the 4th best class in the Big 12. A lot of that had to do with finding talent down South.
West Virginia has 17 players on their roster from Georgia and Florida. All 17 came in during the 2019 or 2020 class. These two states put out some of the most high school football talent in the country. Florida was a state that Holgorsen always wanted to get into but had very little success recruiting. Some of these players also include the likely future starter at QB, Garrett Greene.
The success in the South likely comes back to Neal Brown’s stint at Troy and being familiar with the area. But he also pulled a page out of another former coaches playbook to find success.
West Virginia has looked towards Rich Rod to build a successful roster. The Mountaineers have eight players from the last two recruiting classes come from junior college. Rich Rod found success mining the lower ranks for talent. It isn’t the most common way to build a roster but Bill Snyder was also a big believer to help get over the recruiting hump.
Something a bit more recent shaping West Virginia is the transfer portal. Neal Brown has also taken in eight transfers in the last two classes. Essentially similar to the JUCO route except these guys have D1 experience. The transfer portal has had a major impact on West Virginia already. Three transfer quarterbacks received playing time in 2019 and George Campbell was a big part of the offense.
Neal Brown has taken a unique approach to build his roster. This is a huge reason for both immediate success and being hopeful long term. trying to go the traditional route at West Virginia just won’t work. There isn’t enough talent in-state and the surrounding area is loaded with competition. Kansas State and Rich Rod laid the blueprint for winning and building a strong school despite the disadvantage. Instead of trying to remain on the traditional path, Neal Brown is following the ground work laid out by people with success in a similar position. The Mountaineers may look like a ragtag group, but Neal Brown has already impressed in year one.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. I have covered college football since 2017, wrote for Saturday Tailgate and Fansided. Covering all things Big 12 from recruiting to opinions on the best conference in college football.