18 Comments

  1. Philly Frog

    There are an awful lot of raw HS players coming out of the middle of Pennsylvania that get overlooked.

    A lot like what you said the other day about Wisconsin.

    You don’t see it happen as much in the industrialized football states like Texas.

    • ianaboyd

      Right, Penn State has often had really good players plucked from those ranks. When’s the last time they lacked good DL or LBs?

      Or alternatively, the two best OL for the 2019 WVU OL are a pair of former Ohioan 3-stars. Similar dynamic. Although I don’t know how raw all of these guys are. Maybe raw in comparison to a kid from Katy but those regions take their football awfully serious.

      • Will

        Ohio and Western PA yielded a lot of raw NFL talent for the Holgo program over the years. The White Bros. came from western PA, as did Nick Kwitakowski and Mark Glowinski (Worley from east PA). David Long is from Ohio as was Shaq Riddick. Shelton Gibson was less of a development project but also came out of OH. Most of these kids were not heavily recruited, WVU was the only P5 offer for at least a couple. So yeah, lots of talent out there.

        He did especially well with linemen out of the OH area, Sills and McKivitiz being the active reps, with Blaine Scott waiting in the wings. Looks like 3 of 5 OL starters on the 2016 team were from OH.

        I actually thought Holgo did a good job of getting WVU out of relying on FL for impact players and into adjacent states like PA and OH with more success than Bill Stewart’s program. The FL kids often got home sick and competing in FL for recruits was getting harder every year and the OH/PA/WV kids tended to be the more physical kids on the team.

        Brown appears to have eyes elsewhere for recruiting so far, no commits from OH or PA yet.

        • ianaboyd

          Good on Holgorsen for figuring that out.

          The overlooking of the Midwest and rust belt in particular has been an extraordinary theme across the country this decade. Ryan Day is on record now saying Ohio State needs to stay home a little more.

          It’s about resource allocation. There’s big rewards for focusing on Florida or wherever because there’s so much talent there, whereas that’s not quite true to the same extent in Western PA or OH, unless you’re one of the last dogs to the bowl in Atlanta or Tampa, in which case maybe the math changes and you should be digging around the old rust belt towns.

          Then there’s the cultural angle, of course. Those rust belt locales produce hard nosed kids.

          As far as Neal Brown’s recruiting strategy. I notice some JUCOs and southerners in the mix that I imagine were kids he’d already evaluated and built relationships with from Troy. 2021 is probably the year to watch for getting into PA and OH. The Mountaineers currently only have 1 recruit in the 2021 class but he’s from a burgeoning new recruiting turf that TCU has also been looking to make inroads into.

        • System Poster

          I was looking back at some of WVU’s past recruiting hauls and was surprised by the almost total absence of Florida kids in recent classes, but I guess it makes sense.

          • Will

            There was one kid, Mike Harley, who is now at Miami, that basically turned Holgo off the whole state. He pivoted to GA, which I think has worked out well on the recruiting trail but has yet to show much on the field. We will probably find out this year if it was a successful pivot.

  2. Al

    Outside of Leach, does any Air Raid coach run much of the original offense? Seems like coaches like Riley, Holgersen, Brown, etc. all run various sprrad offenses now and a small portion of their offenses is original Air Raid. I can barely tell who runs a Air Raid now. Please correct me if I’m wrong in any of this.

    Lastly, have you written on how the Air Raid has evolved over the years?

    • ianaboyd

      That’s a good question. Seems like most of them use the spread-I more, except Kliff Kingsbury, the blessed.

      They all use the Air Raid structure and install method but the tactics are more varied.

      I’ve got this book coming out soon that will touch on how the spread O in the B12 in general has evolved and why.

  3. Will

    Very interesting read Ian. I agree, Brown comes off as really smart. Holgo was really smart too, but he tried to hide it with coach speak and then got testy dealing with folks he didn’t think were only his level. Brown is more comfortable showing off his brain and way more comfortable communicating with seemingly everyone. The inroads he’s made in WV so far show a guy who knows how to read people and think strategically.

    But you and he both seem to get just how high the coaching bar is in the Big 12. You’ve got two HOFers are their peak (Patterson and Gundy), two guys with HOF starts (Reilly and Herman) and two guys with Nattys. The least impressive resumes are guys with 10 win seasons at G5 programs without a history of success. I think Brown’s a heck of a coach, but it’s going to be hard to break through against this group.

    That said, I still like what he brings to the table more than any of the other new coaches. For three reasons: 1) He reminds me of Holgo in that he is going to take whatever he has on offense and figure out ways to make it work; 2) He doesn’t remind me of Holgo in that he appears engaged on what’s happening on defense and isn’t going to let a DC who has lot his touch identifying CBs derail the whole freaking program; 3) those P5 scalps (Clemson in 2016 (screw that call at the goalline); LSU in 2017; Nebraska in 2018) are unparalleled for a G5 Sunbelt program to pull in over a 3 year period.

    • ianaboyd

      I think the fact that Neal Brown gets A) West Virginia and B) the Big 12 make him a great fit. If you know thyself and the enemy that’s a pretty important start.

  4. Will

    Totally agree on the reasoning behind Brown’s current approach and I’m pretty confident he’ll get things going in the neighboring states.

    TCU is also working Europe huh? More power to em, I’m sleptical these guys are going to be happy in WV but hopeful they stick. It certainly shows Brown is willing to get creative.

    • System Poster

      Who knows about those European kids. Tech basketball has been recruiting heavily in Europe and has had kids from Italy and France stick with the program. It seems crazy to me, but Davide Moretti coming from one of the most beautiful regions in the world and a truly history city is coming back for his third year in Lubbock.

      • ianaboyd

        Only thing is that the euros have been perfecting basketball skill development for a long time now. They may come to do so with football in a way that matches or surpasses even the Texas HS ranks but are they there yet? I dunno.

        Still, there’s over 700 million people over there so some are bound to be useful.

        • Will

          Broadly, I’m thinking soccer and basketball probably help develop the quickness and hips needed at defensive back. And the Nordic kids could replicate what you see in Wisconsin.

          If they stick, great. And hey, I often compare rural Luxembourg to WV so maybe they won’t be scared off.

  5. System Poster

    After reading this and some other things about Neal Brown, I’m kind of getting some buyer’s remorse with Matt Wells. I think he’ll be fine as well, but Brown seems like a home run hire. His offensive S&P+ numbers at really all of his stops were somewhat worrisome but now I’m thinking that probably doesn’t matter.

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