No. 21 – Another Big 12 team comes off the board here with the West Virginia Mountaineers. Last season, Head Coach Dana Holgorsen led his team to a 10-3 record, finishing T-2 in the conference. Their defense was at its best under Holgorsen last season, allowing just 24 points per game. West Virginia is brining in the 8th ranked recruiting class in the conference and 56th overall. Headlining the new additions are safety Derrek Pitts, and Florida Transfer and day-one starter quarterback Will Grier.
West Virginia is depending on Grier to step in and replace Skyler Howard who combined for 3800 total yards and 36 touchdowns. Grier started 6 games for the Gators as a freshman before testing positive for banned substances, and sat out 2016 per transfer rules.
Grier will be leaning on running back Justin Crawford who is projected to emerge as a star in the Big 12. In 2016, Crawford ran for over 1,100 yards while earning the Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the year. Both players were named to the Maxwell watch list.
Both the offensive and defensive lines are dealing with major losses after the 2016 season. The offensive line will have to replace All-American Tyler Orlosky and Adam Hankey who combined for 78 career starts.
On the opposite side of the ball, West Virginia will look nearly brand new, returning only three starters. All three starting defensive linemen are gone, and two JUCO transfers, Jane Harvey and Ezekiel Rose will have the chance to play immediately. At 6’4, 275, RS sophomore Adam Shuler looks to be the next man up to stop the run and pass, after earning lots of snaps as a freshman.
In the pass-heavy Big 12, an experienced secondary is almost a necessity, and WVU is only returning one cornerback with any experience in Elijah Battle and will pair up with Syracuse Transfer Corey Winfield. Losing Rasul Douglas is a huge loss, seeing as he was the NCAA leader in interceptions with 9.
Some important games for the Mountaineers in 2017
- Sep 3. – West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech – Morgantown, WV
- 28 – West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State – Morgantown, WV
- 25 – West Virginia @ Oklahoma – Norman, OK