After Big 12 move, WVU won't be shy about recruiting in Texas
In Big 12 football, most teams fill their rosters with Texas high school talent. West Virginia's philosophy will be non-traditional.
The Mountaineers, who have eight Texas players on their 2012 roster — the fewest among Big 12 schools, are taking a national approach in recruiting: Three or more players hail from eight different states. But that doesn't mean they won't be targeting Texas talent.
“The subject of recruiting came up a bunch because of the move,” said coach Dana Holgorsen, an assistant at Big 12 schools Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. “When I first got the job 18 months ago, we had already started recruiting Texas a little bit. Got a great boss in (athletic director) Oliver Luck. Understands college football, understands geography. He had already expressed some interest in wanting to recruit some in Texas because everybody recruits in Texas. And Texas is obviously a huge college football hotbed.
“Yes, we will recruit Houston. We will recruit Dallas. I think we've got to be careful about how much manpower we put (there) because it's so competitive. Like I said, everybody's recruiting this.”
The University of Texas leads the Big 12 with 103 Texas natives on this year's roster. Baylor is second with 102, followed by TCU with 82. Oklahoma State (65), Texas Tech (54), Oklahoma (45), Kansas (35), Kansas State (21) and Iowa State (19) round out the list.
All eight of West Virginia's Texans arrived in the past two recruiting classes. Freshman quarterback Ford Childress, son of former Pro Bowl lineman Ray Childress, threw for more than 3,000 yards and 41 touchdowns at Houston's Kinkaid High School last year. Freshman receiver Jordan Thompson had 66 receptions for more than 1,100 yards and 17 touchdowns at Katy High, located in a Houston suburb.
Sophomore running back Dustin Garrison, who set a WVU freshman record with 291 rushing yards against Bowling Green last year, hails from Pearland, another Houston suburb. Sophomore quarterback Paul Millard, who saw action in four games as Geno Smith's backup, attended Flower Mound High in Dallas' suburbs.
“That's our approach with Texas — to make sure that we're getting good quality players that really have great senior years,” Holgorsen said. “I don't want to take away from what's made West Virginia West Virginia. Our surrounding states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia all have pretty good football. So we'll continue to get the majority of kids from that area.”
This year's roster features seven players from Pennsylvania, 11 from Ohio, three from New Jersey, eight from Virginia, 10 from Maryland and 14 from West Virginia.
It's a roster that includes Florida natives Smith, junior receivers Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney and sophomore receiver Terrence Gourdine, who all attended Miramar High in suburban Miami.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.