In seven years as West Virginia head coach, Dana Holgorsen has never had the opportunity to recruit an in-state four-star prospect. While not having elite recruits in your backyard isn't ideal, Holgorsen doesn't lose sleep over it. In fact, he embraces it, transforming the Mountaineers into a "melting pot" program thriving off transfers.
"We made that decision about four or five years ago," Holgorsen said of focusing more on transfers. "The first year in the league, we had some top-end talent, but our depth wasn't very good. Recruited a lot of high school kids, got our depth better, but we went 4-8, so we needed some more top-end talent. So started doing a lot of transfers, and they've worked out. It's just kind of what our niche has been."
Ten players from their 24-man 2017 recruiting class were JUCO transfers. In all, the Mountaineers have 23 players on their roster who began their careers elsewhere, including starting quarterback Will Grier, a transfer from Florida.
"They've just worked out for us," Holgorsen said. "I used to get nervous on signing day when we missed out on a couple of high school kids. Now I don't really — it doesn't bother me. Not that I don't care, it just doesn't bother me because we can find guys later on. We took three or four transfers here in the last couple of months that I think are going to end up making our program better."
Those later-on guys include some of the best players of Holgorsen's tenure, such as current starters Justin Crawford, a running back who arrived from Northwest Mississippi Community College, and Kyzir White, a safety from Lackawanna College. Both will contend for Big 12 honors in 2017.
Neither White nor Crawford is originally from West Virginia, a state with zero four- or five-star recruits and just 21 three-star recruits since Holgorsen took over in 2011. The Mountaineers are, however, chasing four-star defensive tackle Dante Stills from nearby Fairmont. He is brother of freshman defensive end Darius Stills, one of three three-star in-state recruits who signed with West Virginia in 2017.
"West Virginia is a little bit of a melting pot," Holgorsen said of bringing out-of-state players to Morgantown. "We don't get many high school kids from West Virginia, probably zero to two a year. So we've got to go everywhere, and part of what has enabled us to be able to have a lot of success is to get some good transfers."
We'll see if Will Grier joins Justin Crawford, Kyzir White and dozens of other "good transfers."