It’s like a mild form of water torture for WVU football fans.
The constant drip, that is, of Mountaineers hitting the transfer portal.
On and on it’s gone. And, yes, it has to be a concern to the school’s coaches, administration and fans.
After redshirt senior safety Jake Long announced his intention to leave today and former walk-on safety Jayvon Thrift did so on Monday, I’ve counted 22 players overall and 18 scholarship WVU players hitting the road since the beginning of 2020.
Please, though, don’t hold me to those numbers. And by the time I finish this blog it may be more. WVU may be down to 70 scholarship players when fall camp begins. There’s a cap of 85 total and 25 additions each year.
So, again, yes, that’s a problem for Neal Brown. With the relaxed transfer standards, he could use relief from the hard 25 yearly number. He’s said that publicly. In fact, he’s gone as far as saying without it, “you’re never going to get close to your total of 85.”
Let’s push the numbers aside, though, for a minute and get to what really matters.
Let’s categorize the Mountaineer losses by how bad they hurt.
Tykee Smith, S – Perhaps the toughest blow of all. Smith was a third-team Associated Press All-America player. Was fourth on the WVU team in tackles last season with a pair of interceptions. He was like a Christmas gift for Georgia.
Dreshun Miller, CB – Started nine games for WVU last season and was expected to be a centerpiece. Had 31 tackles and 9 pass breakups. Auburn gladly took him in.
Jeffrey Pooler, DE – Headed to Northwestern. Was the most experienced player along the Mountaineer defensive line. Best season was last year. Taijh Alston will have to step up.
Punches to the arm
Austin Kendall, QB – Say what you want about the ex-Oklahoma transfer, but he was the starter at the outset of 2019 and helped defeat Army in last season’s Liberty Bowl.
Alec Sinkfield, RB – I remember once talking to the WVU coaches about a “rising star” when I was writing previews for Athlon magazine. They pointed to Sinkfield. Just didn’t work out for him with Leddie Brown around. Now at Boston College.
Ali Jennings, WR – Now at Old Dominon in his home state of Virginia, Jennings had 26 catches for 240 yards and two scores with three starts for WVU.
Briason Mays, OL – Had seven starts for WVU before leaving for Southern Miss. Played center and right tackle.
Randy Fields, WR – Was a 3-star recruit in 2018 that left after the most recent spring drills. Was a help on special teams.
Noah Guzman, S – Played in 17 games over two seasons, including a start.
Junior Uzebu, OT – Began the year as the starting left tackle, but lost his job and wasn’t with the team the last month of the season. Now at Vanderbilt.
Charlie Benton, LB – Now at UAB, Benton was seriously in WVU’s plans back in 2018 until injuries hit.
Long, S – If nothing else, he added depth in a now depleted secondary. At one time, he was a 3-star recruit with offers from Purdue and Virginia.
Keion Wakefield, WR – Joined the WVU team from Louisville in January before hitting the bricks.
Zack Dobson, WR – Transferred to Morgantown from Middle Tennessee. Was once expected to help with both receiving and running, possibly as a slot. Left in November though.
Tacorey Turner, CB – A scholarship player who basically ghosted WVU.
Quay Mays, DT – Saw a little action – but not much – behind Darius Stills. Now at Arkansas State.
Not at all
Thrift, S – As mentioned, a former walk-on.
Lorenzo Dorr, RB – Ex-walk-on who transferred in from W.Va. Wesleyan.
Jason Edwards, RB – Former Bluefield High standout, but WVU has the position covered.
Tavian Mayo, CB – He made a tackle versus Eastern Kentucky. WVU can survive.
Trent Jackson, QB – Deep on the depth chart for three years; now at Wheeling.
Blaine Scott, OL – Redshirt sophomore saw little playing time. Now at Northern Colorado.
By my call, nine of the 22 leaving were at least a punch in the arm. Three were body blows, especially for the defensive side of the ball.
We’ll see how Neal Brown handles the losses and whether he gets that relief regarding the yearly scholarship cap.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.