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Freshmen trio, JUCOs could make impact

By Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- Not too many of the 24 recruits signed by West Virginia's football team Wednesday will contribute to this fall's team.

There's nothing unusual about that.

But Mountaineer coach Rich Rodriguez said possibly three freshmen could help, as could all the junior college recruits.

The most likely freshman to make an impact is Andy Good, a kicker (that's right, a kicker) from Youngstown, Ohio. Good made three game-winning field goals this past season. If he can handle placements, that would free up Todd James to concentrate on punting. The WVU staff believes James could be an NFL punter if he devoted full time to it.

Another freshman who could help immediately is Vince Beamer Jr., a defensive back from Harrisburg, Pa. Apparently, Beamer was signed, sealed and delivered to Pitt until the Mountaineer coaching staff, in a concentrated effort, convinced him to take a visit to WVU.

According to Rodriguez, Beamer found out that Morgantown wasn't as rural as he was led to believe. He also found out that WVU's facilities were just as good as other schools' and eventually changed his mind.

At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Beamer has the perfect size to man one of WVU's safety positions. Whether that comes this season or somewhere down the road remains to be seen.

The third is Andrae Wright, a 6-5, 260-pound defensive end. If his name sounds familiar, it should. He was among WVU's recruits last season but delayed his enrollment to become qualified. He's eligible now, and the Mobile, Ala., native is bigger and stronger than he was coming out of high school. He could be the tall, rangy pass rusher WVU lacked this past season.

The three junior college transfers on the list should all contribute immediately. They are running back Kay-Jay Harris, linebacker/defensive end Joe Sykes and wide receiver Jubal Thomas.

Harris, who is 24 years old, comes to WVU via Garden City (Kan.) Community College after playing a few years of minor league baseball. He combines size (6-2, 240) with sub 4.5 40-yard dash speed and should challenge for the No. 2 running back position behind Quincy Wilson. How good of an athlete is he? He once long-jumped 24-7 as a high school senior at Tampa Bay Tech.

Sykes (6-4, 245) is being counted upon to bolster the pass rush while Thomas (6-1, 180) is the fastest player Rodriguez has recruited since coming to WVU. He, along with Milton Collins of New Orleans, gives WVU a pair of sprinters at the wide receiver slots.

Overall, the class looks solid on paper and Rodriguez believes it's better athletically than his first two classes.

But only time will tell.

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com