WVU going JUCO route

With its latest verbal commitment – 285-pound offensive guard Stone Underwood from Copiah-Lincoln Junior College – it has become apparent that third-year head coach Dana Holgorson and his staff have elected to fill West Virginia University’s immediate needs from the junior college ranks.

Underwood, who is expected to graduate in May and have three years to compete his two remaining years of eligibility, is the sixth non-high school recruit for the Class of 2013.

And, it doesn’t appear as though he will be the final one.

The loss of 22 seniors as well as a smaller-than-normal senior class for the upcoming campaign has forced WVU’s staff, which will include three new coaches when the old gold and blue open spring drills in late March, to seek some quick fixes.

Especially on the offensive side of the football.

Four members of Holgorsen’s newest class have already inked their names to National Letter of Intents and were expected to be on the Morgantown campus when classes began this week.

Two star wide receivers Kevin White and Ronald Carswell are expected to fill part of the void left by the departure of Paul Hornung Award winner Tavon Austin, Biletnikoff Finalist Stedman Bailey and fellow senior J.D. Woods while 3-star running back Dreamius Smith is being looked to provide that ‘big-bodied’ running back that the Mountaineers sorely missed when senior Shawne Alston got hurt.

Rounding out the quartet of junior college signees is 6-3, 210 pound safety Terrell Pinson (Itawamba JC). While standout freshman Karl Joseph returns to main one of the safety slots, WVU’s porous secondary is in need of a lot of help and Pinson could definitely be a part of solving that problem area.

But, fans need to understand one very important fact – recruiting the junior colleges is a gamble. There are success stories – like the one surrounding now-Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Bruce Irvin – and there are failures.

I can’t say that I am an advocate for the junior college route. But, West Virginia’s immediate needs are many and, like many fans, I don’t see the answers already wearing the old gold and blue and, unless this staff is going to recruit a bunch of 5-star athletes, I’m not comfortable that the incoming freshman class will be talented enough to fill the voids.

Speaking of voids, if you are looking for something to take your mind away from the first weekend of no college football games, here’s a suggestion.

St. Marys will be the site for the 9th annual St. Marys Boys’ and Girls’ Invitational Basketball Tournament. Action got under way on Thursday with a pair of boys’ semifinal contests and the girls will take to the court tonight with Herbert Hoover taking on Wirt County in the opening tilt with the No. 3 (Class A) Blue Devils facing Frontier Local in the nightcap.

Saturday will offer a plethora of action with the boys’ consolation game kicking things off at 1:30 p.m. followed by the girls’ consolation. Championship action starts at 5:30 p.m. with the boys while the girls’ title game follows at 7:30.

Contact jim butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com