It seems year in and year out the West Virginia Moutaineers put a competitive team on the field then place several talented prospects into the NFL Draft somewhere starting in the middle rounds. Next April will be no different and by the looks of it neither will 2012.
The team is known for putting smallish yet versatile ball handlers into the NFL as far back as Amos Zereoué. This year they have two that will adorn draft boards.
Noel Devine is the higher rated of the pair and an incredibly elusive ball handler who creates his own yard with his slippery style. Devine is a terrific cutback runner that changes direction on a dime, losing little momentum. He’s small, runs low to the ground and gets lost behind his blockers.
Jock Sanders is underrated in our eyes and another quick ball handler that constantly makes defenders miss. Sanders lines up at both running back and receiver, producing at both spots. He turns it on in a single step, has a terrific burst and is a sensational pass catcher.
Devine and Sanders have major size limitations which will hinder them at next level. Both have the ability to be specialists on offense while also offering potential returning punts and/or kicks.
Junior guard Josh Jenkins is a future prospect we like. Moving well on his feet, Jenkins displays solid overall body strength and the ability to anchor in pass protection. He jolts defenders with good hand punch and really attacks assignments. Jenkins must improve his blocking balance but is a lineman with a nice upside.
Center/guard Eric Jobe is someone we tracked early on yet the senior never improved his game as we had hoped. He’s strong yet a marginal athlete with limited upside.
The defense offers talent throughout, with most of their top prospects found in the secondary.
Scooter Berry can constantly be found around the ball thanks to his hustle and brains. He lacks the great measurables which will push him down draft boards yet we feel he would be exceptional value as a career back-up.
Chris Neild offers better size and has been more productive on the field. It is quite possible he’ll be rated higher than Berry come April.
Junior Julian Miller is one to keep an eye on. The defensive end is a solid athlete who moves well on his feet and covers a lot of area on the field. He can come out of a three point stance yet at the same time has enough skill to stand up over tackle.
Linebacker J.T. Thomas is an undersized one-gap linebacker best in pursuit. He shows the ability to go sideline-to-sideline but is really only effective as a chase and run linebacker that needs a free shot at the ball carrier.
The top prospect in the secondary is junior Robert Sands, the Mountaineers king sized safety. Sands is a hard hitter that wraps up ball carriers and easily brings them down at the point of attack. He displays better than average quickness for a larger defensive back and has a solid burst to the ball. To his credit Sands plays assignment football and has improved over time. We would expect the 6-foot, 4-inch, 217-pound underclassmen to add bulk as he physically matures and a few teams may ultimately project him to outside linebacker.
Cornerback Brandon Hogan was a favorite of ours off the ’08 film but disappointed us one year ago. We still rate the senior up the list. Physical, he possesses solid ball skills, works well with the safety and positions himself to defend the pass. His top end speed is questionable and will play large in where he is ultimately drafted next April.
West Virginia Pro-Prospects