MORGANTOWN - In the win-some, lose-some department, a couple of the battles West Virginia won on Wednesday appear to be bigger than one it lost.
Certainly from a literal standpoint that's true, because on the first day of the NCAA's signing period, big Marquis Lucas wavered toward West Virginia while little Jermichael Selders wandered away.
No, WVU didn't get everyone it had hoped to get. Cornerback Dominique Terrell signed with Virginia, which was probably the biggest disappointment.
But throw in the signing of four-star running back Andrew Buie of Jacksonville, Fla. - who as late as midday had not announced his decision and was still considering Louisville - and the Mountaineers seemingly gained more than they lost on the always-tumultuous first day of the signing period.
Truth be told, they signed exactly the number of players they realistically expected to sign - 17 - with only the Lucas-for-Selders switch going against the grain.
"It's a good class,'' West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said. "You never bat a thousand. You never hit everything you swing at. But we went to bat and did well.''
The 17 signees, added to six newcomers who are already in school, gives West Virginia 23 freshmen and junior-college players with which to work next season.
The tense moments? Well, they mostly involved Lucas and Buie, both of whom went into the day riding the fence.
Lucas, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive lineman from Miami, opted away from his earlier commitment to Rutgers and signed with the Mountaineers. Lucas was a first-team All-Dade County choice while playing for a Miami Central team that was 14-1 and won the Florida Class 6A title. In addition to Rutgers, he had offers from Minnesota, Illinois and South Florida.
That Selders jumped ship and signed with Baylor was not a complete surprise. The 5-11, 177-pound running back, who committed to WVU last August, had been wavering of late in part because the Mountaineers were expected to sign the two other running backs. Selders is also coming off reconstructive knee surgery that forced him to miss his senior season at Houston's Cypress Creek High School.
But in Buie and Houston's Dustin Garrison, the Mountaineers still appear to have filled their need for new running backs quite nicely. Buie is one of the highest-rated players in the class with four stars from Rivals.com. He ran for 1,782 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior and was rated by the Mobile (Ala.) Press Register as the No. 55 player in the entire Southeast.
While the 5-9, 188-pound Buie is the most highly rated of the three running backs, Garrison is statistically the best of the bunch. In fact, numbers-wise, he's among the best in the country.
Garrison, who led Pearland High School to the Texas 5A state championship, is just 5-8 and 165 pounds, but he was a first-team all-state selection in Texas and the Houston Chronicle's offensive player of the year.
As a senior at Pearland, Garrison carried 406 times for 2,842 yards and 46 touchdowns. He also caught 36 passes for another 595 yards and five scores. In his high school career, he rushed for 4,261 yards and 62 touchdowns.
There is one other player in the class who rivals Buie's credentials as a four-star prospect. Terrell Chestnut, a cornerback from Pottstown, Pa., originally committed to Pitt before that school changed coaches. He is a four-time all-stater who excelled on both offense and defense for Pottsgrove High School and had scholarship offers from, among others, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Pitt and South Carolina.
Including Garrison, Buie, Lucas and Chestnut, those signed include a pair of wide receivers, three linebackers, four offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, two running backs, a tight end, a safety and a cornerback.