WVU going abroad
by Jim Buzzerd
West Virginia University head football coach Neal Brown and his staff have established themselves as solid aggressive recruiters. They have shown the ability and willingness to go against schools on the recruiting trail that WVU has tended to avoid in the past. It’s too early to tell how successful West Virginia will ultimately be in this arena, but early results are encouraging.
West Virginia has recently expanded its recruiting boundaries overseas and has commitments for the 2021 class from a pair of Scandinavian prospects. Sweden’s Viktor Wikstrom, an impressive tight end prospect, has been committed for a few months. Last week defensive line prospect Edward Vesterinen of Finland verballed to WVU.
Enter Brandon Collier; a former NFL and Canadian Football League player who moved to Germany in 2013 and in 2017 formed PPI Recruits. He has helped over 70 European players land Division I scholarships.
“So many young, talented players were asking me if I could help them,” Collier said. “That’s kind of how it started and it has taken off from there. We really got started in late-2017. So it has been about three years since PPI started and it has grown a lot from there.”
“We run combines through all the major countries in Europe and we find the top kids from these combines. Then we get these kids to one big showcase to invite these kids to what we call the ‘DreamChasers Tour’. We bring these kids to America and we only select the cream of the crop. So if you come on the tour, we expect you to be a Division I kid. The selection process is very rigorous.”
Collier is very high on both prospects. Referring to Vesterinen, Collier says, “They (WVU) are getting our most ‘ready now’ kid. A lot of the kids here are a little raw because they haven’t played much football. But he has been playing football for five or six years. And he has had great coaching. I don’t think fans should look at him as a developmental project.
“If you know Finnish people, those guys are really tough. They don’t smile much. He is a great kid but if you guys see him and he doesn’t smile that much, it is not because he is being mean. That’s just who he is and what their culture is.”
Wikstrom may be an even more intriguing prospect. “He is a kid that runs a 4.5 at 250 pounds. He is 6-foot-4 and they (WVU) are getting a playmaking tight end who can stretch the field.” Collier said.