Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

February 6, 2013

Dual-threat QB Rawlins signs with WVU

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia recruit Chavas Rawlins already has one famous alumnus buzzing about his prospects at quarterback.

The mobile Rawlins signed a national letter-of-intent on Wednesday to play for the Mountaineers, who could use him right away after the graduation of record-setting passer Geno Smith.

Former Mountaineer quarterback Pat White said on his Twitter feed Wednesday that “something tells me it’s going to be fun watching” Rawlins.

The 6-foot-3 Rawlins threw for 1,382 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 613 yards and 12 more scores last season at western Pennsylvania’s Monessen High School, about an hour north of Morgantown.

Rawlins arrived on campus last month to start taking classes and could end up competing for playing time against 2012 backup Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress.

Rawlins was the only quarterback in West Virginia’s recruiting class and could represent a change for Holgorsen, whose offenses have included a 4,000-yard passer every season since 2005.

Whoever throws the ball next fall, West Virginia brought in plenty of potential targets in the hopes of filling the void left by Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The Mountaineers signed five wide receivers, including Georgia junior college transfers Mario Alford and Ronald Carswell, a former Alabama signee.

“Probably our biggest need on offense was to add playmakers,” Holgorsen said.

Austin set several school records for rushing, receiving and all-purpose yards, while Bailey, who is skipping his senior season, owns numerous receiving marks, including 25 touchdown receptions last season.

Among the 25 recruits signed by the Mountaineers were nine junior college transfers — West Virginia signed one such recruit in each of the past two years.

“One thing that I have seen change in college football is the amount of guys from junior college that are being recruited,” Holgorsen said. “In my years at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State, it wouldn’t be strange to have a class without any junior college players. This year, a lot of schools are going after junior college guys.”

Seven of the 25 recruits are already enrolled at WVU.

“It’s really good to put closure to it,” Holgorsen said. “The hardest 48 hours as a coach is Monday and Tuesday before signing day. This staff did a heck of a job of identifying the guys that wanted to be here. We put a list together of 18 people (Tuesday night) that we thought we were going to sign, and all 18 of them signed.”

West Virginia’s defense gave up a school-record 495 points last season. The recruiting class includes four linebackers, four defensive backs and two linemen. The top find among them may be linebacker Darrien Howard of Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio. He’s a two-time all-Ohio selection and amassed 75 tackles last season.

Holgorsen said the Mountaineers were in need of pass rushers and he believes they landed several in junior college linebackers Brandon Golson and d’Vante Henry, along with junior college lineman Dontrill Hyman and Marvin Gross, who came from the same high school in Baltimore as Austin.

West Virginia’s lack of depth at running back was a big issue in 2012, and Holgorsen hopes he solved that with the additions of Dreamius Smith, Wendell Smallwood and Elijah Wellman.

The addition of four offensive linemen gives the Mountaineers 15 overall.

“You can never have enough of those guys,” Holgorsen said. “I like where we are from a depth standpoint. We just have to establish some starters there.”

West Virginia pulled its recruiting class together after the hiring of three assistant coaches in the past month. Safeties coach Tony Gibson and receivers coach Lonnie Galloway are in their second stints with the Mountaineers. Joining them as recent hires was cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell.

“You always take into consideration what guys bring to the table from a recruiting standpoint, from a geography standpoint. That’s half the job,” Holgorsen said. “All these guys do a great job of coaching and getting out there recruiting and identifying what we needed to have happen. That was part of the reason why some of these guys were hired.”

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