MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the final 10 minutes of Monday’s viewing session, the media glimpsed West Virginia in an uptempo scrimmage that featured the first-string offense against the first-string defense, and subsequently the second-string units facing off as well.
There was much scribbling and rubbernecking as reporters sought to note every jersey number before the sneak preview ended. After all, the Mountaineers’ coaches have been reluctant to admit a depth chart even exists, much less to comment on it.
So without further ado, here were the position-holders as of 5:20 p.m. on a Monday afternoon splashed with sun and clarity:
Quarterback: Clint Trickett
My two cents: The Florida State transfer is smart and never goes anywhere without his “presence,” but he’s more than a brain in shoulder pads. The junior can sling it a little bit, as he showed on a couple nice rollout throws. He also checked away from a play or two, displaying none of that new-guy-trying-to-get-a-grasp vibe. Still, given Dana Holgorsen’s cagey nature, who knows if “Trick Daddy” truly is the frontrunner or simply the QB who got the shoulder tap Monday.
Running back: Charles Sims
My two cents: No stunner here. He’s versatile, experienced and finishing plays like a player hungry just to make that squad. (Has Tony Levine recovered from the shock yet?)
Offensive line (left to right): Quinton Spain, Mark Glowinski, Tyler Orlosky, Marquis Lucas and Curtis Feigt
My two cents: This is the starting five we’ve been reporting and speculating on since the second day of camp.
Inside receivers: Mario Alford and Cody Clay
My two cents: Don’t expect Clay to catch 110 passes this season, but the coaches rave about his never-ending effort and they won’t hesitate to flex him from fullback to the slot. Alford’s wheels have quickly become revered, though his hands let him down on a sideline drop that drew some choice words from Holgorsen standing all the way across the field. (Yes, Dana has a voice that plays sideline-to-sideline.) Wondering about Jordan “Squirt” Thompson? He sat out the contact portion of Monday’s practice in a green jersey, which was an upgrade from the red jersey he wore last Thursday when his left arm was in a sling. The news on Dante Campbell wasn’t as promising: He remained dressed in red 48 hours after receivers coach Lonnie Galloway speculated that the sophomore might not be catching any passes for a while.
Outside receivers: Ronald Carswell and KJ Meyers
My two cents: Where in the world was Kevin White, the guy who just wants to be a dog? Well on Monday the dog was in a green jersey dealing with an unknown injury. If White gets healthy soon—and he moved OK during the non-contact portion of practice—he’ll almost certainly be in the lineup Aug. 31, which could push Carswell inside.
Defensive ends: Will Clarke and Eric Kinsey
My two cents: Clarke has long been bona fide, but Kinsey is just coming into his own and may be the most improved player in camp after playing in 13 games as a true freshman.
Nose tackle: Shaq Rowell
My two cents: Nothing surprising to see here. Just a 305-pound senior who surely must be WVU’s largest anthropology major.
Outside linebackers: Brandon Golson and Isaiah Bruce
My two cents: Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson was jonesing to see Golson at the Buck three months before the dude arrived on campus, and so far, the Georgia Military College transfer has not disappointed. The curious part was Bruce lining up at the Star after spending last season playing inside, and playing it rather well with 94 tackles.
Inside linebackers: Nick Kwiatkoski and Doug Rigg
My two cents: A former high school safety, Kwiatkoski is a redshirt sophomore who seems comfortable at the Will. Rigg is a senior with 18 starts behind him, though we anticipated him playing behind Bruce this season at the Sam spot. Maybe Rigg was in the lineup because Bruce shifted outside. Maybe Rigg was there because Jared Barber wore a green jersey. Maybe Rigg simply earned the spot the old-fashioned way. The next couple weeks will tell.
Cornerbacks: Travis Bell and Ishmael Banks
My two cents: After being lauded by Holgorsen earlier Monday, Banks figured to surface with the first unit. That he was joined by Bell is a little surprising in that the converted safety has made the climb after only 10 practices at cornerback.
Safeties: Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph
My two cents: Chalk.
Quarterback: Paul Millard
My two cents: Again, let’s be careful not to read too much into Millard coming out with the 2’s or Ford Childress being the third QB to take a snap. Tuesday’s practice could bring a complete reversal.
Running back: Dreamius Smith
My two cents: Sturdy blocker, powerful runner, deceptive speed to turn the edge and better-than-advertised as a pass-catcher. Only Texas and Baylor may have a better backup running back in the Big 12.
Offensive line (left to right): Pat Eger, Russell Haughton-James, Tony Matteo, Stone Underwood and Nick Kindler
My two cents: Twice in the past 10 days Eger discussed working only at guard, so of course he lined up at left tackle Monday. The junior college transfer Underwood was the backup right guard after falling to a distant third in the competition at center.
Outside receivers: Terrance Gourdine and Daikiel Shorts
My two cents: Is the fifth-year senior Gourdine the ultimate late-bloomer, having appeared in a paltry three college games, all at Eastern Michigan back in 2010? And how about the true freshman Shorts making a cameo with the second unit? Lest we forget, Holgorsen started two true freshmen receivers last season.
Inside receivers: Shelton Gibson and Devonte Mathis
My two cents: Gibson looks like the real deal despite being fresh out of high school. And unlike Shorts, he wasn’t here for spring practice.
Defensive end: Noble Nwachukwu and Dontrill Hyman
My two cents: Hyman is a physical specimen who’s being slowed somewhat by his rawness. A second-teamer on Aug. 12 could be a dominant force by Oct. 12.
Nose tackle: Christian Brown
My two cents: Another big-bodied tackle who has a promising upside after butting heads with defensive line coach Erik Slaughter as a freshman. When Rowell chugs to the sideline wheezing, Brown shouldn’t reveal much drop-off.
Outside linebackers: Dozie Ezemma and Hodari Chritian
My two cents: Ezemma is a non-recruited former walk-on who loves to rush the passer. Christian is a true freshman who had offers from Big Ten, Big East and ACC programs. Wes Tonkery (green jersey) almost certainly will be in the two-deep once he’s back at practice.
Inside linebackers: Sean Walters and Al-Rasheed Benton
My two cents: The redshirt freshman Walters was a high school safety who still looks a tad slender for the inside at 215 pounds. Benton is a true freshman who has the thick lower body of a guy who’s been playing inside linebacker at the college level for several years. Junior Jewone Snow (red jersey) was sidelined again. He played in only four games in 2012 before being shelved by a shoulder injury.
Cornerbacks: Avery Williams and Brodrick Jenkins
My two cents: I presumed the senior Jenkins would be rolling with the first unit, but if cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell is to be believed, this rotation is far from settled. It’s good to see Williams has recovered from the neck injury that sidelined him last season.
Safeties: K.J. Dillon and Jarrod Harper
My two cents: Dillon is integral because he will be counted on in WVU’s nickel and dime packages.