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Signing Day rundown

National Signing Day 2016 — indeed, a holiday for college football fans who passionately follow recruiting — has come and gone. Of course, there are still stories to be told, like where former Capital High School star and Kennedy Award winner TyRhee Pratt will head next.

Pratt’s murky situation threw a wrench into the Gazette-Mail’s Signing Day coverage plans. You see, we initially planned a five-story-per-day, two-day assault on recruiting coverage from WVU to Marshall to the Mountain East Conference to the high school level. Pratt, of course, was at the core of our high school plan, and it was doubly delicious for us because the player voted as the state’s best in 2015 was headed to Morgantown to play in the Big 12.

Then on Signing Day eve, as we planned to send a photographer and videographer and sportswriter to Capital High School for Pratt’s signing ceremony, we learned of the news that Pratt would not be signing with WVU. Our Rick Ryan broke the story, which you can read here:

Capital’s Pratt will not sign with WVU

Even with Pratt out of our National Signing Day lineup, the Gazette-Mail still produced 10 stories leading into and coming out of National Signing Day. In addition to Pratt, here are the other nine:

Point Pleasant’s Cody Mitchell follows family example to Marshall, by Doug Smock

“They’re the same in that they’re very smart football players,” Point coach David Darst said of the Mitchell brothers. “Derek was a kid that really understood the game, and that’s about where the similarities of the two stop.”
“The hardest decision was turning down WVU because that was my dream growing up and always having that vision of coming out of the tunnel holding the Flying WV flag,” he said.

“When I committed, I had a couple reporters call me, and one said he did some research and I’m the first player to come to play football from Missouri,” Behrndt said of his factual distinction in the program’s history.

“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a big role for me. If I do well, maybe they’ll think about recruiting some more out there. And if I’m terrible, they’ll probably leave it alone.’”

Facilities play a big part of Division II recruiting, by Derek Redd

“I went around this summer to look at other Division II facilities, and you’d be amazed at what I saw,” he said. “I saw schools with indoor facilities and weight rooms that look like the size of gymnasiums. It’s a big deal.”

“We had a lot more holes on defense,” Holgorsen said. “We loaded up on four quality high school guys at [linebacker]. Obviously the one this morning, Brendan Ferns, was big for us. He’s a little bit of a legacy kid [with brother Michael already on WVU’s roster], but had lots of options.

“Secondary is probably the biggest need on defense. You lose K.J. [Dillon], Karl [Joseph] and [Terrell] Chestnut. We’ve been down the road of having to play freshmen there in the past and it didn’t work out very good, so that’s where we attacked the junior colleges more than anything.”

National Signing Day was filled with signature moments, by Mitch Vingle

“The nice thing is, we’ve really been able to experience a lot,” said the father. “We’ve met five Heisman Trophy winners. We’ve been everywhere from Oklahoma to Georgia and the SEC. It was cool for the first wave, but then it gets exhausting.”
“There are more players in a 45-minute radius than there’s been in the last 10 years,” Holliday said. “They’re good enough to win a conference championship, and that’s what we go by.”
“A lot of those guys, I’ve had a good relationship with, whether it’s their parents, their families or their coaches,” Kirkland said. “That’s exciting that we’ve got some of those guys who have that experience.”
“Our guys that are within our program right now, they know they have to compete to earn everything they get,” Anderson said. “And we tell that to the guys we’re recruiting. If you come in here and truly compete and truly earn a spot, we’ll play you.”
After you’re finished clicking on those links, go find Thursday’s edition of the Gazette-Mail. The recruiting coverage takes up the entire front page and two inside pages, which you can see below. The page on the left is full of capsules for each player who signed with WVU and Marshall. You’ll find lists of UC and State signees on the opposite page.
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OK, now I need a nap.