WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – Jack Allison, a graduate transfer quarterback from West Virginia University who threw for more than 270 yards in a post-season bowl game for the Mountaineers, heads up a 2020 recruiting class that has created a lot of buzz around the West Liberty grid program.
While the Hilltoppers are still finalizing the paperwork on a few late-comers, veteran head coach Roger Waialae’s current list contains an impressive 24-man mix of high school seniors, early enrollees and transfers from other 2- and 4-year institutions.
Allison, who had announced in November that he would be leaving WVU and entering the NCAA transfer portal, broke the news of his commitment to the Black and Gold himself on social media a week ago. Waialae provided some insight into how a Mountaineer became a Hilltopper.
“One of our current players was in Morgantown visiting some friends on the football team,” Waialae said. “They happened to run into Jack and talked about what it was like to play here and go to school here. Apparently, that sparked his interest in the program because Jack gave me a call. After we talked, Coach (Brandon) Tate and Coach (Chris) Riley took over the recruiting process.
“Jack had gone home to Florida so we walked around campus with an iPad giving him a virtual tour so he could see what the campus was like. I talked to him more specifically about what we do offensively and Coach Tate and Coach Riley got back together with him and sealed the deal.”
Allison will sit out spring drills while tying up some loose ends back home in Florida but plans to hit the ground running – or throwing, as the case may be – when preseason camp kicks off in August.
“The first thing you notice about Jack is the big-time arm,” Waialae said. “He was ranked one of the top pocket passers in the country coming out of high school. He’s seen a lot of collegiate action at a very high level so he understands the speed of the game. I really like his maturity level and work ethic, as well.
“He’ll still have to prove it on the field when he gets here. We have three returning quarterbacks (junior letterman Erick Phillips along with redshirt freshmen Jamie Diven and Jordan Wood) who will be competing in the spring. When August gets here, I’ll go with the quarterback who gives us the best chance to win.”
A former 4-star recruit out of Palmetto (Fla.) High School, Allison turned down Alabama and several other SEC schools to sign with the University of Miami. He sat out a redshirt year with the Hurricanes, suffered a shoulder injury in spring drills and transferred to West Virginia.
He was the Mountaineers’ 2017 Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year while sitting out his transfer season and wound up playing in 10 games over two seasons at WVU. His two biggest performances came in the 2018 Camping World Bowl against Syracuse when he completed 17-of-35 passes for 277 yards and a TD and this past season when he completed 18-of-24 passes for 140 yards and a score against Iowa State.
While Allison’s signing attracted the bulk of the attention, Waialae was just as excited about the rest of the Hilltoppers’ 2020 recruiting class.
“We were already looking at one of the strongest high school classes we’ve had in years,” Waialae said. “We always go hard after offensive and defensive linemen and three of our guys (Brenden Luffey, Dominick Thomas, Elijah Mike) were among the six finalists for the inaugural Bill Fralic Award as the top high school lineman in Western Pennsylvania.
“We got some really good local guys from the OVAC and just signed a transfer from Northern Colorado (Brodrick Thomas) who was the leading tackler and captain of his Texas state championship team in high school. I’m excited for the start of spring ball but I can’t wait to see all these guys on the field in August.”
Waialae and his Hilltoppers begin spring drills on March 20.
2020 WEST LIBERTY FOOTBALL SIGNEES
Jack Allison, QB, 6-6, 215, Gr., Palmetto, Fla./Palmetto HS (Miami/West Virginia)
At West Virginia: Played in 10 games over two seasons at WVU, completing 42-of-71 passes for 496 yards and 2 TDs. …Started and completed 17-of-35 passes for 277 yards against Syracuse in the 2018 Camping World Bowl. …Completed 18-of-24 passes for 140 yards and a TD in relief of injured starter Austin Kendall against Iowa State last fall. …Voted 2017 Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year
At Miami: Turned down Alabama and several other SEC schools to sign with Miami. …Redshirted his first year and transferred to WVU following a coaching change and shoulder injury in spring ball
High School: Consensus 4-star recruit from Palmetto (Fla.) HS was ranked the No. 6 pocket passer and No. 68 overall in 2016 class by ESPN. …Played in UnderArmour All-American Game in Orlando, Fla.
Josh Ankrom, LB, 5-10, 195, Fr., Parkersburg, W.Va./Parkersburg HS
Starting LB on 2019 West Virginia Class AAA playoff squad at Parkersburg HS
John Brown, OL/DL, 6-0, 285, Fr., Euclid, Ohio/Euclid HS
Team captain and one of only 3 returning starters who helped lead Euclid HS to a fifth straight Ohio Division I playoff berth
Nick Coulter, LB, 6-2, 235, So., Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall HS (West Virginia)
College: Attended West Virginia University as an invited walk-on but did not see game action
High School: All-State linebacker had 111 tackles, 12 TFLs and 4 sacks as a senior at John Marshall (W.Va.) HS. …Played in West Virginia North-South All-Star Game
Jalen Creighton, WR/DB, 6-0, 185, Fr., Wheeling, W.Va./Central Catholic
First-team All-West Virginia Class A WR/DB for state champion Maroon Knights. …Leading receiver with 48 catches for 784 yards and 13 TDs – including 2 TD grabs in state championship game. …Also led defense with 3 interceptions
Matt Curry, P, 6-2, 205, Fr., Parkersburg, W.Va./Parkersburg HS
All-West Virginia Class AAA punter at Parkersburg HS averaged 36.7 yards per punt as a senior with a long of 62 yards. …8 punts of 50+ yards, 9 downed inside the 20
Gage Fiore, LB, 6-0, 210, Fr., Parkersburg, W.Va./Parkersburg HS
2-time All-State linebacker at Parkersburg (W.Va.) HS played in Blue-Grey All-America Game in Orlando, Fla. …Racked up 199 tackles and 10 TFLs in his last two seasons. …Elite student with 4.0 GPA
Titus Goldson, WR/KR, 5-9, 170, Fr., Memphis, Tenn./White Station HS
2-time All-Region wide receiver and return specialist for White Station (Tenn.) HS. …Helped lead Spartans to second round of TSSAA Class 6A state playoffs as a senior
Nazir Hopson, DB, 5-9, 170, So., Bronx, N.Y./Blue Ridge (N.Y.) HS (Santa Barbara CC)
High School: Starred at Blue Ridge HS in the Bronx, N.Y.
College: Charted with 61 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 3.5 TFLs and 6 pass breakups at Santa Barbara CC last year
Onaje Lewis, LB, 6-0, 215, Fr., Bowie, Md./Bowie HS
Playmaking linebacker helped lead Bowie (Md.) HS to its first state playoff berth in 5 years
Edwin Linares, LB/DE, 6-2, 225, Fr., Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson HS
All-District defensive end on state playoff squad at Manassas (Va.) Stonewall Jackson HS
Brenden Luffey, OL/DL, 6-2, 295, Fr., Coraopolis, Pa./Moon Area HS
First-Team All-Pennsylvania Class 5A 2-way lineman (OG/DT) helped lead Moon Area HS to first WPIAL playoff berth in more than a decade. …The Class 5A finalist for the inaugural Bill Fralic Award, honoring the top lineman in the WPIAL
Braeden Mason, WR/DB, 5-8, 165, Fr., Parkersburg, W.Va./Parkersburg HS
All-Conference wide receiver/kick returner for Parkersburg (W.Va.) HS racked up more than 1,000 all-purpose yards before going down with season-ending injury in 7th game of senior season
Elijah Mike, OL/DL, 6-2, 310, Fr., Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa HS
Earned back-to-back Pennsylvania Class 3A All-State honors at perennial Keystone State grid power Aliquippa HS. …Class 3A finalist for the inaugural Bill Fralic Award, honoring the top lineman in the WPIAL
Jason Mitchell, DB, 5-10, 160, Fr., Springdale, Md./C.H Flowers HS
2-year starter in the secondary at C.H. Flowers (Md.) HS helped lead team to Maryland Class 4A state quarterfinal berth
Tyler Moler, RB, 6-0, 190, R-Fr., Parkersburg, W.Va./Parkersburg HS (Charleston)
College: Redshirted at Charleston in 2019
High School: All-State RB at Parkersburg (W.Va.) HS. …Rushed for 1,412 yards and 14 TDs as a senior. …Rushed for school-record 308 yards against George Washington HS
Jude Omobhude, OL/DL, 6-5, 290, Fr., Bowie, Md./Bowie HS
All-Conference offensive lineman for Maryland Class 4A playoff squad at Bowie (Md.) HS
Jay’Quawon Phillips, WR/DB, 5-9, 155, Fr., Euclid, Ohio/Euclid
Ohio Division I All-District defensive back for perennial Buckeye State grid power. …Helped lead Euclid HS to fifth consecutive Ohio state playoff berth
Marquise Richardson, DB, 5-11, 200, Fr., Oxon Hill, Md./Potomac HS
Versatile athlete played multiple positions for Potomac (Md.) High School’s 12-1 state runner-up squad. …Ranked among team leaders with 77 tackles. …Also had a QB sack and blocked a punt on special teams
Tai Rutledge, DL/TE, 6-6, 200, Fr., Woodland Hills, Calif./El Camino Real HS
2-sport standout earned All-City honors in football and basketball at El Camino Real HS in Woodland Hills, Calif.
Dominick Thomas, OL/DL, 6-4, 290, Fr., Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette HS
Dominant offensive lineman helped lead South Fayette (Pa.) HS to WPIAL Class 4A title as a junior. … Class 4A finalist for the inaugural Bill Fralic Award, honoring the top lineman in the WPIAL
James Tyson, DL, 6-1, 230, Fr., Bowie, Md./Bowie HS
2-year starter on a stellar defensive unit which keyed Bowie’s Maryland state playoff run. …Played in inaugural Prince George’s vs. Baltimore City All-Star Game
Brodrick Watson, DL, 6-5, 275, Jr., Dallas, Texas/Bishop Lynch (Northern Colorado)
High School: Captained TAPPS Division I state championship team at Dallas (Texas) Bishop Lynch HS. …Led team with 80 tackles and 7 QB sacks
College: Sat out redshirt season at Northern Colorado
Jake Wilson, OL/DL, 6-5, 310, Monaca, Pa./Central Valley HS
Dominant offensive tackle helped lead Central Valley (Pa.) HS to a Pennsylvania state runner-up finish and a WPIAL Class 3A championship