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West Virginia recruiting needs

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
The first order of business for West Virginia in recruiting season was no small order: replacing the face of the program.

There's no real substitute for Pat White, of course, but the Mountaineers need to find the next great quarterback. They're hoping that incoming freshman Eugene Smith can fill that role, in time.

Beyond that very obvious void, second-year head coach Bill Stewart and his staff have several other areas that need replenishing. The offensive line, for one, lost four senior starters and saw junior guard Greg Isdaner unexpectedly declare for the NFL Draft. Outside of center Eric Jobe, who saw time late in the year after Mike Dent's neck injury, and freshman Josh Jenkins, who got hurt himself early in the season, this will basically be an entirely new unit in 2009.

Stewart has said he wants to turn the Mountaineers into more of a passing-based offense, and that requires finding more receivers. Dorrell Jalloh was a senior in 2008, and Alric Arnett and Wes Lyons will be gone after '09. At running back, there's no obvious heir to Noel Devine, who'll be a junior this season. And a big back to block for him on short-yardage plays is crucial.

Defensively, West Virginia is in good shape. The only major losses off that young side of the ball are linebacker Mortty Ivy and cornerback Ellis Lankster. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has a lot of good young players to work with, including Scooter Berry, J.T. Thomas and Brandon Hogan. A big-time pass rusher and some more depth for the back of the 3-3-5 alignment are the most needed acquisitions here.

There's also the matter of replacing Pat McAfee, who handled kickoffs, field goals and punting duties for the Mountaineers and was one of the best in the Big East in each of those disciplines.