WVU football welcomes 10 newcomers

MORGANTOWN — The first day of spring drills is still months away, but there have already been significant roster changes as head coach Dana Holgorsen heads into his eighth season at West Virginia University.

When classes began on Jan. 9 seven members of the Class of 2018 recruiting class as well as three invited walk-ons had signed up for classes while seniors-to-be Ricky Rogers, Ray Raulerson and Jalen Harvey and junior-to-be Alec Shriner elected to not return to the program.

All three of the Mountaineers’ junior college prospects — linebacker Charlie Benton, safety Joshua Norwood and cornerback Keith Washington — have enrolled as well as four of the 16 high school signees.

The quartet elected to graduate from high school a semester early so as to get a quicker start to their collegiate careers.

Those prep school standouts include linebacker Josh Chandler, quarterback Trey Lowe, and offensive linemen Briason Mays and Blaine Scott.

Benton, who ranked third on the team with 34 tackles at Butler Community College (KS), and Chandler, who registered 86 tackles (17 for loss) at Canton McKinley High, will bolster a linebacking corps depleted with the loss of seniors Al-Rasheed Benton, Xavier Preston, and Hodari Christian II.

Washington, a letterman at the University of Michigan in 2016, will hopefully fill a large void left Mike Daniels Jr., Elijah Battle and Corey Winfield at cornerback while Norwood, who played at Northwest Mississippi Community College, gives immediate experience at safety.

The loss of Raulerson and Shriner open up immediate slots in the Mountaineers’ two-deep depth chart for offensive linemen Mays and Scott and Lowe, one of five semifinalists for Mr. Football in Tennessee, will join a crowded quarterback room that already includes senior-to-be Will Grier, University of Miami transfer Jack Allison, junior-to-be Chris Chugunov and Butler Community College transfer David Isreal.

Getting a late start on his college career is Jesse Beal, the 6-foot-6 tight end has spent the last 10 years pursuing a career in professional baseball. The Lorton, Virginia native was drafted in the 14th round as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles.

Other walk-ons include running back T.J. Kpan, who transferred from Seton Hill University, and punter/placekicker Sam Trapuzzano, who attended Bucknell University the past two years.

WVU is coming off a 7-6 campaign which concluded with three consecutive losses to Texas (28-14), Oklahoma (59-31) and Utah (30-14) in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Holgorsen and his staff are continuing to work on the Class of 2018 as Martinsburg linebacker Tavis Lee and Australian punter Angus Davies headlines the list of recruits which the Old Gold and Blue are still hoping to add to their class.