With spring football around the corner, West Virginia still has roughly five available scholarships that they can hand out. Signing day has come and gone and it looks like Neal Brown and his coaching staff will be looking to fill at least a couple of those scholarships by dipping into the NCAA transfer portal.
There are several needs for West Virginia but there are a few areas that need to be addressed first, such as linebacker. With Tony Fields II off to the NFL and Dylan Tonkery graduated, WVU only has one true linebacker on the current roster, freshman James Thomas. Although adding another running back or quarterback to the mix would strengthen the competition, placing their focus on positions where they are “good enough to get by” is not ideal. Instead, Brown will be zeroing in on patching up the glaring holes on the roster.
Below, are a few options that could be in play for the Mountaineers for various reasons (prior relationships, connections, etc.)
David Bailey, Boston College
David Bailey could be the player to be named later in the WVU/Boston College trade. All joking aside, a running back like Bailey would give the Mountaineers a frightening one-two punch with him and Leddie Brown. Alec Sinkfield transferred to Boston College in hopes to have a chance of becoming a starter. Obviously, Neal Brown would have to sell Bailey on being a solid sidekick to Leddie Brown for a year instead of being “the guy”, so if Bailey doesn’t mind that, it would be a huge addition to a very inexperienced running back room. Considering there is not much of a connection between Bailey and West Virginia, this would be quite a longshot but, hey, you can never predict what will happen in the transfer portal.
Rashawn Williams, Indiana
Williams chose Indiana over Cincinnati, Syracuse, Purdue, and West Virginia when he came out of high school in 2020. He does have a relationship with the current coaching staff and would still have four years of eligibility.
T.J. Jones, Penn State
WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker spent one year as the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Penn State. During that year, Jones was a true freshman and only appeared in one game. The two have a pretty tight connection as Jones was one of the very first recruits that Parker began recruiting to Penn State. With the number of drops the receiving corps had this past year, adding another body to the mix would not be a bad idea.
Lamonte McDougle, Washington State
McDougle began his career at West Virginia under the previous coaching staff and was named an ESPN freshman All-American. However, after an impressive freshman season, he hit the transfer portal and ended up at Washington State – the school he originally committed to. Over the last couple of months, McDougle has tweeted out some highlights of his time and WVU and even gave a special shoutout to WVU strength coach, Mike Joseph.
With Darius Stills now off to the NFL, McDougle could slide right into a significant role on Jordan Lesley’s defense.
Ben VanSumeren, Michigan
Earlier in his career at Michigan, VanSumeren provided some depth for the Wolverines on the offensive side of the ball at running back. He toated the ball nine times for 20 yards and a touchdown in 2019 before making the flip over to the defensive side. He appeared in all six of Michigan’s games this past season and recorded seven tackles.
Although VanSumeren wasn’t a major factor on the Michigan defense, he could be of more value to West Virginia.
Adam Shibley, Michigan
If VanSumeren chooses West Virginia, maybe the Mountaineers will be able to get another piece to the Michigan linebacking unit to come with him. Shibley only has one year of eligibility remaining but West Virginia desperately needs bodies at the position. He had 20 tackles and two tackles for loss in five games this past season.
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