MORGANTOWN - West Virginia's highly touted quarterback class of the most recent recruiting period has gone from two to one and now to none.
Freshman Barry Brunetti, who served as Geno Smith's backup this season, has decided to leave the program and transfer closer to his Tennessee home. He will practice with the team and finish out the season, which for the Mountaineers concludes Dec. 28 at the Champs Sports Bowl.
Brunetti's decision follows by roughly two months that of fellow freshman Jeremy Johnson, who left the team in the middle of the season after twice earlier leaving for short periods because of homesickness.
Brunetti's decision, though, is not likely based so much on homesickness as a lack of opportunity to play. Smith emerged as WVU's starter this season and posted the second-highest season passing yardage total in school history, along with 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Assuming Smith remains in school and is the starter, that means Brunetti would likely have to wait until his fourth season before having a legitimate opportunity to win the starting job.
Brunetti revealed his decision Thursday via Twitter. The school's sports information department had not been informed, although it can probably be assumed that Brunetti discussed his situation with the coaching staff, even if he had not formally told them of his decision.
"Due to a list of things and personal reasons ... will not be returning to WVU next year,'' Brunetti posted on Twitter. "Still was great being a Mountaineer. No bitterness anywhere. Love all the times I had here. Family first.
"Still focusing on helping WVU win Champs Sports Bowl. After that continue my new journey.''
Brunetti appeared in four games this season and completed 4-of-9 passes for 6 yards. That was enough to burn his redshirt for the season, meaning he has just three years of eligibility remaining. He would have to sit out a season if he transfers to another FBS program, but would be immediately eligible if he goes down to the FCS level.
His most recent appearance came in the season finale against Rutgers. He replaced Smith for one play when Smith was injured. He handed the ball off to Noel Devine.
Brunetti will be the fourth member of last year's recruiting class to leave the program, following Johnson, receiver Deon Long and lineman Marquis Wallace. Three others failed to qualify academically.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.