MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Dana Holgorsen has gotten a jump on his 2014 recruiting class by signing four junior college players, each of whom have the potential to help fill critical needs as the Mountaineers attempt to bounce back from their first losing season in more than a decade.
Quarterback Skyler Howard, cornerback Keishawn Richardson, linebacker Edward Muldrow III and offensive lineman Sylvester Townes all are expected to enroll in January and go through spring practice.
Howard is perhaps the most interesting of the mid-year signees. A lightly recruited high schooler in Fort Worth, Texas, Howard enrolled at Stephen F. Austin last summer before deciding to go to junior college in California. He was the backup at Riverside City College when the season began, but was inserted in the second half of the opening game and became an instant star.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder then led Riverside to a 10-2 record, completing 67 percent of his passes for 3,151 yards, 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions. By midseason he had only a couple of FCS scholarship offers, but more recently had drawn the interest of California and Utah, among others.
Howard, who will have four years to play three at the FBS level, will join freshman recruit William Crest as WVU's new quarterbacks. All three who played last season - seniors-to-be Clint Trickett and Paul Millard and sophomore Ford Childress - also return. Whereas the three returnees are all basically pocket passers, both Howard and Crest are dual-threat quarterbacks.
The three other signees also could help fill needs for the Mountaineers, who are intent upon finding cornerbacks and offensive linemen in this recruiting class and suffered a rash of injuries at linebacker last season.
Muldrow, a 6-3, 215-pound linebacker from Georgia who played at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi, originally signed with South Carolina and redshirted before leaving school and going to junior college. He played light - less than 200 pounds - last season, but seems to fit in well in a defensive scheme that stresses mobile and versatile linebackers. He has two years to play two.
Townes is 6-6, 285 pounds and from Memphis, Tenn. He played at Coahoma Community College in Mississippi and is part of a recruiting class that is expected to be heavy on offensive linemen. He has three years to play two.
Richardson is a 5-10, 170-pound cornerback from Putnam City, Okla., who played at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. He was a later recruit by West Virginia who committed just this week after weighing offers from Wisconsin and Iowa State, among others.
In addition to the four-mid-year signees, West Virginia has commitments from 15 other players, all high school seniors except two other junior college recruits who apparently won't enroll until summer. A handful of the high school seniors could also enroll in January if they complete their high school academic requirements.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1