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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  • I hate VT

    The Alabama game will be much closer than a lot of you think. WVU will look good like they did against OK and OK state.

  • roger

    To the naysayers who think we will not be better. You should remember that our defense was decimated last year with injuries. Look how many guys we played on defense who were red-shirt freshman or true freshman with no experience. With alot of guys back and healthy and the freshman back with experience, we should be much better. Then look at the skill positions on offense, we are loaded. I really think we will find a QB who will step up and take charge this year. I see the probability of a much better season.

  • Trev

    This is my first post on any blog or board ever. I've read all of these comments, and after doing so I want to share a great turnaround story that is is very relative to our Eer's situation, and very recent. I am the biggest West Virginia University fan, period. There is a great hope for our young men. Take Auburn's story from a 3-9 team in 2012 to a team that stumbled only once in Baton Rouge the next in 2013, until facing off with Florida State in the NCG. The point is that no one saw this coming. In a two year stretch, this team went from the worst team in Auburn's history, to one score short of a National Championship the very next season, playing all the same teams, exception to a quarter of the season.
    West Virginia is in position to perform at a much higher level than last season because of the personnel (coaches and players). It truly has been addition by subtraction throughout the coaching staff. And we have had two of the greatest, if not the greatest, two recruiting years in the history of our school. Bradley deciding that he wanted to be a part of the mountaineer family was the best thing that has happened to our program sine Adam Bednarik went down in the fourth game of a season that gave a young man by the name of Patrick White the chance to play. Few understand the gravity of the addition of Bradley because I believe he is coach in waiting, just as Holg once was. Folks, fans, and MasterOfHatingOnNotJustOne,from what I've seen, heard, read, and studied, the Alabama game will tell us much, but not the whole story. The direction the program is headed is a positive one. Long live and let's go!

  • scott

    Mario Alford.....

    feed him!!!!!!!

  • Imgrill

    Not that it's official.. The most unhappy people in America live in Huntington we know why the MU imposters come to read every article about WVU. Hell if I had to wear that awful green I'd be unhappy too. Can we please find away to limit comments to one per day. The same people useing different names to say same thing on every's old

  • Matt

    I absolutely love the mountaineers, my biggest concern is that everyone is expecting too much just because we have experience. Experience is great and important but it does not improve a players physical skill set. If a player is a mid level talent and gets experience they do not become a upper level talent, they become a experienced mid level player. We need upper level talent to win the Big 12. We are making strides and recruiting that talent now! Give Holgerson two more seasons to get us there. Remember everyone who wants Holgersons head that any coach would have trouble moving a team from the big east to the 12. Also ask yourself who out there is better then what we already have? The only name that comes to mind is Jim Trussel and he is currently out of coaching.

  • mad hatter

    good article

  • mad hatter

    yes, we will improve, but so will everyone else.
    Texas has them a great coach, and he will win, and their recruiting will go much better.
    TCU will continue to recruit and get better...TTU will continue to beat us, as well as baylor, okla. okla st. ,,, our toss up games will be iowa st. and k state... we're the bottom feeders for at least two more yrs. and that's saying we improve on all fronts.

  • mad hatter

    i think the D will improve but only a bit.. was 102 , probably be around 80 at the end of this coming season..Just don't have the athletes to compete weekly in the big 12,,, we're improving but at a slim pace, the ONUS is on holgie, speaking rhetorically.
    we will continue to struggle offensively, as we simply don't have a qb capable of competing at this level.
    Our passing yardage we very misleading as we were behind most of the time, and defenses were simply in a prevent D.
    We will see limited improvement this yr.. Hopefully, trickett will have learned enough to checkoff at the line of scrim. this yr.. and then , maybe not.
    I see us winning maybe 6 games , maybe.
    And the Ala. game, the score will be what Saban wants it to be,,, he may let up going into the fourth qt.. depending..
    Our off. line will again struggle. our secondary will again struggle,,, we have to do a great job at recruiting.. ".great players create great coaches" Rick Pitino,,, i think that says it all.,,

  • 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.