While excitement around the state is reaching a high level for the upcoming football season, it's never too soon for fans of both West Virginia and Marshall to take a look into the future beyond the 2012-2013 campaign.
It's pretty much a consensus between analysts and those in the know of college football that the Mountaineers will have to step up recruiting efforts to stay competitive in the Big 12.
Meanwhile, the Thundering Herd is coming off of a bowl win and looks to be making progress in Conference USA, especially with a great number of players coming back from last year's squad.
Marshall coach Doc Holliday said he and his staff will look to ride the momentum of the team's 20-10 win over Florida International in last year's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl to a solid recruiting class this year.
"[The bowl win] was huge," Holliday said. "Kids want to go to a place where they can play in bowl games and compete for national championships, so what that bowl win did for us just from a standpoint of exposure is huge."
Even looking to next season, Marshall will only lose eight seniors off its roster, on one hand making it one of the youngest teams in America but on the other meaning there are fewer holes for the Herd to fill through recruiting.
Holliday said his team's relative youth is a positive.
"We have a young football team but we have a young team that has played a lot of football," Holliday said. "Last year most of our kids were freshmen and sophomores so they were able to get some experience. I think it's a good problem to have."
Still, Holliday has a particular area he is looking to address in the 2013 class.
"This won't be a very big class because we just don't have many holes to fill," Holliday said. "The offensive line is still an issue we've got to get fixed."
If Rivals.com is any indication, help could be on the way for the Thundering Herd as all three of Marshall's listed commitments are offensive linemen.
As for the Mountaineers, the team is addressing needs in the backfield and on defense as three linebackers and three running backs have committed thus far.
According to Rivals.com, the top of the current WVU class is Darrien Howard, an inside linebacker from Dayton, Ohio, who is listed as the Mountaineers' only four-star player.
Also appearing on the list is offensive guard Tyler Tezeno, an offensive guard from Klein Collins High School in Houston, Texas, an area in which West Virginia would undoubtedly like to have success as playing in the Big 12 is certain to give the Mountaineers additional exposure in the region.
Neither WVU director of football operations Alex Hammond or coordinator of recruiting operations Ryan Dorchester returned the Gazette's phone call requesting an interview.
Darrien Howard, ILB - The most highly ranked of WVU's commits according to rivals.com, Howard is listed as a four-star player by the publication as he enters his senior season at Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder ran a 4.97 40-yard dash and has a vertical leap of 31 inches. Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Cincinnati also sent offers, among others. Rivals.com - four stars; Scout.com - three stars.
Hodari Christian, OLB - The McKeesport (Pa.) Area High School product may be a bit undersized (6-1, 215) but should provide some depth to the linebacker corps. Christian committed to West Virginia over offers from Illinois, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Purdue and Northwestern, among others. Rivals.com - four stars; Scout.com - three stars.
DeShawn Coleman, RB - Another undersized back/receiver (a la Noel Devine, Jock Sanders, etc.) comes Coleman from Hickory High School in Hermitage, Pa. Coleman is listed at 6-foot, 170 pounds and was also offered by Penn State and Purdue. Rivals.com - three stars; Scout.com - two stars.
Marcell Lazard, OL - Coming in at 6-6, 293, Bloomfield, N.J.'s Howard received 16 offers, including several from big-time programs, before giving a verbal commitment to the Mountaineers. Other offers came in from Ohio State, Florida, Miami (Fla.), South Carolina, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Maryland, to name a few. Rivals.com - three stars; Scout.com - three stars.
Isaac McDonald, OLB - McDonald also chose West Virginia over a list of several other schools that included South Carolina, Stanford, Notre Dame, Purdue, North Carolina, Louisville and Mississippi State. McDonald enters his senior season at Champagnat Catholic School in Hialeah, Fla., listed at 6-5, 205 pounds. Rivals.com - three stars; Scout.com - three stars.
Chavas Rawlins, QB - Rawlins is the lone signal-caller currently committed and has some serious speed to go with his arm after being clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.43 seconds. The 6-4, 190-pounder from Monessen (Pa.) Senior High School committed to WVU over offers from Nebraska, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Tennessee, Rutgers and Pittsburgh, among others. Rivals.com - three stars; Scout.com - three stars.
Tyler Tezeno, OG - An example of expanded recruiting grounds after acceptance into the Big 12, Tezeno comes to Morgantown via Klein Collins High School in Houston. The 6-3, 280-pounder was also offered by LSU, Boise State, Arizona State, Northwestern and Tulsa, among others. Rivals.com - three stars; Scout.com - three stars.
Zaire Williams, RB - Williams ran a 4.6 second 40 and has a 28-inch vertical with his senior season to go at Timber Creek High School in Sicklerville, N.J. He was also offered by Wisconsin, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Temple, and UConn among others. Rivals.com - three stars; Scout.com - three stars.
Elijah Wellman, RB - WVU seemingly has won the in-state battle for Wellman's services after securing a soft verbal from the Spring Valley rising senior. Wellman is listed at 6-2, 225 pounds and was also offered by UNC-Charlotte, Bowling Green and Ohio. Rivals.com - two stars; Scout.com - two stars.
Michael Selby, OL - A senior at Washington County High School in Sandersville, Ga., Selby also had offers from Georgia State, Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee State. He is listed at 6-3, 280 pounds with a bench press max of 375 pounds and squat max of 500 pounds. Rivals.com - three stars; Scout.com - three stars.
Cody Collins, OL - The 6-2, 280-pounder from Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, also had offers from Bowling Green, Ohio, Toledo and Western Kentucky. He has reached 325 pounds in the bench press. Rivals.com - two stars; Scout.com - two stars.
Gerald Wright, C - Wright, who hails from Northwestern High School in Miami, is listed at 6-2, 321 pounds and was also offered by Florida A&M and Ole Miss. Rivals.com - two stars; Scout.com - two stars.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, email@example.com, or follow him at twitter.com/Rpritt.