MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Today continues a position-by-position examination of where the West Virginia football team stands after spring practice.

The eight-day video series scours the two-deep as the Mountaineers glimpse ahead to the 2014 season, Dana Holgorsen’s fourth at the helm.


Tuesday, April 15
 Defensive line: Can no-name group hold the front?
Wednesday, April 16
 Linebackers: Will they be nasty or negligible?
Thursday, April 17
 Secondary: Trying to reverse two dreadful years of pass defense
Friday, April 18
 Special teams: Aiming to be really special in 2014
Monday, April 21
 Offensive line: Are the Mountaineers vulnerable up front?
Tuesday, April 22
 Receivers: Can they get their swagger back?
Wednesday, April 23
 Running backs: Is this the best unit in the Big 12?
Thursday, April 24
 Quarterbacks: Can any of the current QBs win eight games?


Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia kicker Josh Lambert (86) celebrates after kicking the game-winning field goal in overtime against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium.


After Josh Lambert’s 53-yard spring game kick carried through the uprights with more than 10 yards to spare, some wide-eyed onlookers checked the stadium flags. But Lambert credited yoga, not wind, for the increased range.

“I’ve been doing (yoga) for the past three or four weeks, and I’ve been hitting better balls now than I’ve ever hit in my life,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot stronger and the yoga helped a lot. It’s made me more flexible.’’

The yoga suggestion originated from strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph, and it has spread beyond the specialists to include other skill position players like Daikiel Shorts.

“They have a TV in the weight room that they put it on and we all just go to town,” Lambert said.

While making 17-of-23 field goals as a redshirt freshman, Lambert was 16-of-18 inside 50 and just 1-of-6 from beyond. With yoga helping his leg swing, and experience teaching him to cut down on pregame reps that used to sap his power, Lambert hopes to be more comfortable and accurate from long-range.

“I would go out there and kick until I felt I was warm, then I went and took reps that actually mattered,” he said. “But I really didn’t need to take as many reps as I took to get warm. So I’ve cut it down a lot and made everything I do count.”

Projected starters: Lambert (5-11, 210, redshirt sophomore) could make some preseason All-Big 12 teams at place kicker. Nick O’Toole (6-3, 215, junior) also built a reputation by averaging 44.1 yards per punt, while pinning 22 kicks inside the 20 against only five touchbacks. Long snapper John DePalma (6-5, 240, junior) returns, bringing continuity to a position that flourishes in anonymity.

Mario Alford (5-8, 174, senior) showed his knack for returning kicks on a 98-yarder in the Blue-Gold game, while Wendell Smallwood (5-11, 202, sophomore) is hoping to improve on his 18-yard average from last season. The punt returner’s position has Jordan Thompson (5-8, 162, junior) as a safe choice, though special teams coach Joe DeForest will continue looking for a more explosive playmaker.

Michael Molinari (6-2, 210, redshirt senior) is back to handle kickoffs after making 54 last season, 14 of which went for touchbacks.

Backups: The versatile Molinari is on call behind Lambert and O’Toole. Daryl Worley (6-1, 200, sophomore) was taking reps at kick returner, while Vernon Davis Jr. (5-10, 165, redshirt sophomore) and Jacky Marcellus (5-8, 173, redshirt freshman) were fielding punts this spring.

Watch the video at the top of the page for player highlights and to learn how Allan Taylor and Justin Hoff grade the special teams after spring practice.

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  • typical message board DB

    -Sweatsuit Huggs
    -Thug players
    -Oliver is a communist
    -IMG is a secret society planning to destroy WV
    -Dana is a drunk
    -WVU fans are the best in the world, any sport
    -Parking was free in 1973
    -We don't need to sell no wine at the stadium
    -There are grammatical errors in this story, must discredit
    -Turnbull got hosed
    -VanZant got hosed
    -WVRC are cry babies
    -WVU colors are gold and blue, not black
    -Every high school player in WV should be offered a scholarship to WVU
    -Rich still owns property in WV, he's coming back
    -Random irrelevant stat I found on another message board
    -Sweatsuit Huggs
    -I never listen to MetroNews sports programming but I comment about what I heard on MetroNews Sports
    -Jack Fleming should still be doing our games
    -Dana owes the taxpayers for broken headsets
    -Sweatsuit Huggs
    -I'll hang up and listen

    • 4WVUinKY

      I like it...keep it coming...this board needs an occasional dose of authenticity

  • FNP

    First off, the article was about football and Jay Zoom and he's uneducated opinions veered off into a non story about basketball. The kid was in trouble 2 years ago. It was supposedly cleared up but somebody got mad because he chose WVU over them. Don't think for one sec that a assistant coach or disgruntled fan wouldn't stir up old dirt. Let's get over it ppl and don't forget every one of us have skeletons in the closet so don't be so quick to judge.

    • Seen Better Days

      OK...let's review this story:
      1. The story from the link provided appears to be from April 18, 2014.
      2. According to Gaston County, NC magistrate, a warrant is out for Tarik's arrest.
      3. Stems from a "failure to appear" order for court date of May 29, 2012 for a larceny charge.
      4. Police report "closed/cleared" but magistrate says otherwise, i.e. "no verdict".
      5. Article also says Tarik had been arrested prior to the larceny charge...misdemeanor count of injury to personal property of which the status is unclear.
      6. The Huggster, on April 18, 2014, stated he was aware but it was his "understanding" that the issues (plural) were resolved. He then goes on to say "our expectation is that the issue (singular) will be resolved.

      So, from my lowly educational background, it appears one Mr Philip has been arrested twice and is currently a fugitive from justice from the great state of North Carolina. Somebody please set me straight because otherwise I see this as a big deal.

      I repeat, WTF is going on with our mens basketball program? Has Oliver North and the rest of the WVU administration completely lost their minds? At what price do we allow this coach to continue? I got one for you and it's the truth...if you like your current coach you can keep your coach. You will not have to change your coach and that coach will be accepted by every doctor, ah, I mean WVU fan that believes their old and outdated plan, I mean coach is still good.

      How long lord will this suffering and bondage continue? When will the delivered come

      • Aaron

        I don't think North Carolina is a great state and the price is $3 million annually.

        Why was there no mention of either before this week?

        • Out Cast

          Hey Richard Noggin breath...I have been commenting...just using various monikers...;-)

  • jay zoom

    the police report says closed/cleared what that means is the investigation on our part is closed. it is now in the hands of the prosecuting attorney and turned over to the courts involved if an issue such as this was to happen in West Virginia. according to a well known Officer of the law in Morgantown. also said it is probably the same almost everywhere. way to go WVU once again were on the map.

    • Wenkev

      Like I said in a post that got deleted before, check the owner of the source of the newspaper link listed below. Seems odd to me that homeboys would be digging up dirt on their own bball program, especially issues that are two years old.

  • notorious

    Last year the punter was our best player. Looks like this year it might be the kicker.


  • Tyrone

    This basketball player is just a typical recruit from our future hall of fame coach. Why should anyone be surprised by all of this .Huggins has not been the same sense he supposedly ran into a door in La's Vegas a few years ago .

    • Wenkev

      “We are aware of the issues that took place more than two years ago, but it was our understanding, as well as other parties, that the issues were resolved. Our expectation is that the issue will be resolved,” WVU men’s basketball head coach Bob Huggins said in a statement emailed to The Dominion Post late April 18. It WILL BE taken care of.

    • Mister Man


      • Tyrone

        SENSE he has none as in coach HUGGINS

        • Mister Man

          Since, is the correct word in that instance.

  • Tyrone

    Well as much as they pay this guy to be the special teams coach they should be the best in the nation. Is there another coach in the country that gets paid as much as he does for being the coach of special teams. If we are not in the top ten in special teams this year this guy has to go

  • VaultHunter

    There has been an arrest warrant issued for Tarik Phillip but don't worry the Huggin's Huggies will be quick to fly in and say why its no big deal. I was banned from scout message board because I tried to post a link to it and I guess they thought if they banned me they would stop it from taking place.

    Sorry blind loyalists....can't ban the internet or the courts or places that people can exercise their freedom of speech.

    Is this that part of the plan to "fix" the bball program?

    Now on topic I think Lambert will be a great weapon for us any time we get inside the 40 we can have a shot at always coming away with points.

    And a great punter is always a valuable weapon.

    Special teams can make or break a team in my opinion.

    • Mister Man

      Sorry blind loyalists? You are sorry, no doubt.

    • Seen Better Days

      Please provide the link about the arrest warrant for Tarik.

      • Hop'sHip

        • Seen Better Days

          WTF? Like our country, this program is going to he!! without a hand basket! Makes me want to vomit! Sad, very sad.

        • Wenkev

          From the Dominion Post's report- "The police report states Phillip’s case is “closed/cleared,” ". This is from 2012. Looks like a misunderstanding based on the full story.

        • Seen Better Days

          WTF? Like our country, this program is going to hell without a hand basket. Whatever happened to due diligence from the coaching staff? Thought it was settled? How about getting and/or confirming proof from the legal system? Sad, very sad. Makes me want to vomit the way our school is falling apart right before our eyes.

    • Mister Man

      Special teams can make or break a team? Wow! That's in-depth analysis!

    • mineralcounty

      What is the warrant for?

  • Rick55

    I too like our punter and kicker and snapper, hope the catch and runners and the blockers can produce.

    I certainly agree that a strong special teams unit can cover for a multitude of sins on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.

  • jay zoom

    the only thing special about this team will be --- can they win more game than last year THANKS OLLIE waiting for a post from Allan Taylor on the Tarik Phillip issue. looks like another fine blunder by HUGGINS the old I thought it was taken care of.. in other words swept under the rug

    • Mister Man

      It looks more like you're uninformed.

    • Mister Man

      LOL!!!! He's a real killer. I can see why you didn't want to mention what it was about.

    • Seen Better Days

      Fill me in...what's the issue with Phillip?

  • ole sasquatch

    Will we still continue to nearly always run the kick-offs out of the end zone?
    Will we still continue to go for first downs when it is a 4th. down and 8 yds. from the opponents 22 yd. line and it is still in the 1st qtr.?
    Ole Sasquatch just don't seem to understand this kind of thinking.
    We got a good field goal kicker and I think yoga would be good for all. Especially football players who generally do not have good range of motion because of lifting.

    • 1olewvufan

      There are times when going for a 1st down on 4th and 8, etc. isn't a bad idea.

      • ole sasquatch

        ole, quit now.

  • steve

    When the special teams coach makes 500K a year they should be good

  • Hop'sHip

    I'd give Justin a D- for being excessively negative and for his struggle in applying logic when assigning grades. I give Allan a B+ for recognizing that Mountaineer nation badly needs some measure of hope given its recent suffering and for grading on a curve that does NOT include Alabama. We shouldn't be compared to programs that already pay for play (i.e. the SEC).