Transfer Trail

West Virginia has built its depth via a variety of transfers over the past couple of years, and while head coach Dana Holgorsen has seen a lessening of one type this season, he still believes the numbers will continue to increase.

When addressing the subject of transfers, Holgorsen includes three types: junior college graduates, four-year players who leave a school before their eligibility is complete, and graduated, fifth-year players who switch to take advantage of the somewhat odd NCAA ruling that allows them to play a final year at a different institution.

West Virginia has gotten all three types over the past couple of years, and all have made contributions to the Mountaineer program.

The first, junior college graduates, were utilized heavily in the recruiting class of 2014, when WVU welcomed such players as Kevin White, Mario Alford, Nick O'Toole, Dontrill Hyman and Brandon Golson, among others, to the squad.

"That was based on going out and trying to increase the talent level that we had to have to compete in the Big 12," Holgorsen noted.

The Mountaineers added another six jucos in this past year's class, and Holgorsen admits that he doesn't see the number of juco transfers decreasing on a national level anytime soon.

The second type, undergraduates who still have eligibility remaining, are lesser-utilized, but still welcomed, by Holgorsen. In that spotlight this year is running back Rushel Shell, who sat out last season after transferring from Pitt.

"We have a good one in Rushel Shell that wanted to transfer down from Pitt. He just needed to get away from home a little bit, but it's close enough that he can get back there. He's going to be a good player for us."

Longtime Mountaineer fans hope that Shell follows the productivity path of A.B. Brown and Eugene Napoleon, who also transferred to WVU from the Panther program. They combined to rush for 2,938 yards and 19 scores during their time at West Virginia in the late 1980s.

The third type, the graduate who transfers to another school for a final season, was also mined by WVU last year in the form of Charles Sims, who was by far the best player on the team. Without him, the Mountaineers' 4-8 record would have been much worse.

"That's becoming more and more popular, and I don't know if the NCAA is going to address it or not. They need to get a handle on it," Holgorsen observed. "By being able to get four-year guys who don't have any issues at the school they were at and have them become immediately eligible, I think that's interesting to a lot of coaches out there.

"For Sims, it worked out great for him,. He knew what he was getting in me and he wanted to play in the Big 12, and he was able to showcase his skills. He gained a lot of respect from coaches across the country. We haven't been approached by too many other guys in that situation. But it was definitely [a win-win situation].

Holgorsen also commented on the good and bad of spring practice for WVU, and it was two sides of the same coin: depth.

"Everybody has concerns. When you only have about 75% of your team, one of the main concerns is not having your full roster. Adding kids in June and July and then not lining up with full roster until August, and not knowing what they are about, that's one of the bigger ones.

"But, we have a lot of guys coming back, and had more than 100 guys go through spring. We had a lot of depth, and a lot of key returning guys. We have to continue building as a team if we want to compete in the Big 12."

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