Ben Queen/Metronews photo

After tying for the West Virginia team lead with 45 receptions in 2013, Daikiel Shorts wants to improve his yards after catch.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Last season’s chaotic race among the West Virginia receivers has a definitive pecking order now, with Kevin White, Mario Alford and Daikiel Shorts fronting the group.

With that status comes hopes for more production.

“We had a lot of bodies (last year), but we didn’t have a lot of experience,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “At least we’ve got some people back who have been on the field a lot.”

The 6-foot-4 White caught 35 passes and a team-high five touchdowns, becoming more reliable as he transitioned from junior college. Alford took even longer to adjust, starting at slot before moving outside when Ronald Carswell was suspended (and subsequently dismissed).

Alford finished with an average of 20.4 yards per on his 27 receptions.

“Hopefully Mario and Kevin will pick up where they left off,” Dawson said. “They started coming along towards the end. You could tell when they started feeling more comfortable with their lot in life, and they started making more plays.

“Those two outside guys are extremely talented—we’ve just got to get them the ball.”

That entails a quarterback derby that was in flux throughout last season, a situation that was equal parts injury and coaching indecision. The situation hasn’t been settled this spring, with frontrunner Clint Trickett rehabbing from shoulder surgery as Paul Milard and newcomer Skyler Howard split reps.

Whoever wins the quarterback job in the fall should have a go-to target in Shorts, who tied for the club lead with 45 catches in a breakout freshman season.

Now coaches want to see him break out literally.

“Good gracious the kid played a lot,” Dawson said. “He didn’t look like true freshman and mentally he didn’t act like one.

“But he’s probably more explosive now. Even the quick balls he caught out of his break, he would catch them and get tackled. He didn’t really have that explosion out of the break.”

Shorts thinks better stamina and conditioning will help improve his 11-yards-per-catch average. His season-long catch was 38 yards.

“There were definitely a lot of plays I left on the field last year,” Shorts said. “I’m doing everything that they tell me to do. I’m feeling stronger and faster, and I want to make more plays this year.”

In WVU’s four-receiver sets, the slot opposite Shorts could become a home for versatile running backs like Wendell Smallwood, Andrew Buie or Dustin Garrison.

“We’re trying to get guys who can play running back and slot receiver,” Dawson said. “That allows us to play faster. That gives us more mobility.”

As the Mountaineers near the midpoint of spring practices, White said he’s recognizing pre-snap coverages and feeling more comfortable.

“We’re progressing,” said White, who said the receivers wanted there part to make the offense click. “We want to be scoring just about every play or at least on every drive and not settling for field goals.”

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  • Mike

    Oh, and never respond to anything William says. That's what he wants.

  • Mike

    I think we will definitely see an improved football team on all fronts this year. We have more experience coming back this year as opposed to last year. Does that guarantee more wins? No. And if we get beat down by Alabama, the world will not end. Let's get behind this team, and every future WVU football team. We will get back to where we used to be. It might take some time, but I'm patient enough. No matter what happens, I'll always love watching them play. I think the majority of us still do.

  • woody

    If WVU beats bama. watch this board light up. If we lose what will be said. For years we never had the depth we needed to play in a major conf. none of the teams in the Big East had depth. Now that we are in the Big 12 we need to grow. Give the coaches a chance to improve this team. We do have talent and now we are adding depth. Let it grow!

  • Baldeagle

    You're right about one thing Aaron, the defense will have to much better this year because we still don't have a QB. If the offensive line play improves considerably, then maybe our average QB's might do a little better. Being an eternal optimist, I will wait and see.

    • Aaron

      The average QB's threw for the 4 highest single season yardage total in WV history.

  • jay zoom

    if there was a one and done in football yhis would be a team that could do regardless of the opponent. THANKS OLLIE

  • RLR

    Speculation but I think Allan Taylor is William and mad hatter...anyone agree?

    • Jim

      Paul Feinbaum is the Mad Hatter.

  • Master of One

    My bad on the 5 win season...In an effort to forget last year I forgot how really bad they were...

    And No...I'm not a Marshall fan and could care less... but I would become one if it would upset more of you. Just let me know.

    This years team will be no better than last years team. How can they be?

    You will realize that midway through the first quarter of the Bama game.

    It is what it is. Get over it and move on...

    • Aaron

      I disagree. I think the defense will be much improved as experience is a great teacher. I think the change in schemes along with the defensive mindset will at the very least, provide a little more stability on that side of the ball.

      I also think we will be better on the offensive side of the ball. For all the negativity surrounding the QB situation last year, the trio threw for the 4th most single season yards in WV history. Improvements need to be made in turnovers, 16 int's and in keeping the ball, to many 3 and out's but if WV can run the ball effectively, I can see this team easily winning 6 games, potentially maybe 7.

      While that's not world setting and certainly does not put WVU in the upper echelon of the Big 12, it is better than last year.

      • mad hatter

        thank you capt. obvious, now don't go out on the limb.

    • Capt. Obvious

      If you didn't wouldn't be here...

      Do you have any idea how Cisco stock will perform this next quarter?...should I buy, sell or hold?

      Thank you... Masterdamas.

      • Aaron

        Hold on the stock.

  • Dave

    Can't wait for football. Really anxious for the Alabama game.

  • Mike

    Master of One,

    How can we have another 5 win season if we won 4 games last year?

    • wvrefugee

      I guess he's not the Master of the Obvious??

    • JoeyO

      That's why he's the Master of One.... he has One hidden somewhere, and only he knows where.

  • Master of One

    Yes, there is so much to look forward to...

    1. It starts off with a loss to Alabama

    2. It goes downhill from there

    3. Another 5 win season

    4. Holgorsen gets fired

    5. WVU starts all over again from scratch...

    It is what it is...accept it now and move on.

    • Gary K.

      More like master of none

      • Doug

        More like Master-bater

    • Mike

      Master of one, need to change your name to MU fan of one. Have never seen so many people that think they are fans of WVU football that do nothing but try and tear down the team. Master of One you are a total waste of space. You are the one that needs to move on. Go back to your MU hole and spin you stupid remarks in "little Detroit".

      • Master of One

        Shut up Mike

      • GoEers

        Agreed. You called him out for what he really is.

        • Barry

          Marshall Trolls! Marshall Trools! They are everywhere!


    "pecking order already established" ? ? ?

    there wasn't enough consistent effort from this whole crew to warrant this misguided statement . . . if they already have this mindset , I doubt that there will be any improvement over the play of the wides from last year . . .

    consistent hard work , not the accumulation of yards or catches , will help the team win ballgames . . . if yer heads into personal numbers , you don't belong on the field playing for the Gold& Blue . . .

  • bigj

    I think Kevin White is a NFL calibar rec

  • Nicky the Greek

    Gibson can't practice till fall camp.

    • RLR

      I hadn't heard of a grade was he allowed to practice in the fall?

      • JoeyO

        The short version: Gibson was as a partial qualifier must sit out the entire year (through May) and is not allowed to practice with the team. As long as his grades hold up, the year would count as his redshirt season and he return this fall and still have four years of eligibility remaining.
        This one-year ineligibility will be up in May, so he will miss spring camp.

  • Kenny

    What happened to Shelton Gibson

    • RLR

      That's exactly what I was wondering. He wasn't even on the depth chart. 4 star kid has to have some ability.

      • Bill

        From my understanding, he had a grade that did not transfer from his high school which left him ineligible. As far as I understand, he is good to go and will be practicing and in full participation this fall.

  • Mountaineer Fanatic 44

    Truly looking forward to the next football season. Too many months in between football seasons. I wish all colleges had a winter team also.
    Best of luck to each and every Mountaineer. May you always play at 100% of your ability and I will always pray before each game that no one gets seriously injured on any team. May God bless THE MOUNTAINEERS!!!!! LETS GOOOOOOOO