MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Today brings the sixth of an eight-day video series providing a position-by-position examination of where the West Virginia football team stands after spring practice.

We scour the two-deep as the Mountaineers begin the countdown to the Aug. 30 showdown in Atlanta.

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

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Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

West Virginia receiver Kevin White caught a team-high five touchdowns as a junior in 2013 but had only 35 receptions overall.

 

Receivers coach Lonnie Galloway recalled the statistical jumps Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey made during their second seasons at West Virginia, and he hopes to see the same spike from Kevin White and Mario Alford.

For the record, Austin climbed from 15 to 58 catches and one touchdown to eight, while Bailey improved from 24 to 72 catches and four scores to 12. Of course those were freshman-to-sophomore increases, whereas White and Alford are juco transfers aiming to ramp up their junior-to-senior production. In Alford’s case, however, he felt as a lost as a freshman last season, scuffling to make sense of the slot receiver nuances.

But a shift to outside receiver in Week 7 simplified his responsibilities and allowed Alford to flourish during the season’s final four games. He made 18 of his 27 catches during that span, racked up 450 of his 552 receiving yards and produced both of his touchdowns.

“You didn’t have to do too much on the outside—just straight routes, vertical routes,” Alford said. “As for the inside, you had to move between the linebackers and all that. It was an easy adjustment to the outside.”

The 5-foot-9 Alford expects his late-season production from 2013 to carry over throughout 2014. “I feel great, because I’ve got everything down pat,” he said. “I know all the plays like the back of my hand.”

Throughout spring practice, Galloway noticed White and Alford better comprehending their alignments and reads.

“The routes are crisper, they know the depths,” he said. “Just watching (practice) on tape, if they mess up they’re grabbing their helmets because they know what they did wrong.”

Projected starters: White (6-3, 208, redshirt senior) has the physique and skill set of an NFL receiver, but needs to improve on the 35 receptions and five touchdowns he generated last season. Alford (5-9, 174, senior) is undersized for the outside spot, but has shown he can run away from larger corners after catching slants and crossing routes.

The only certainty at slot receiver is Daikiel Shorts (6-1, 197, sophomore), who tied for the team lead with 45 catches in 2013. In a four-receiver set, Jordan Thompson (5-8, 162, junior) is listed as the starter at the other inside receiver.

Backups: Though capable fill-ins, none of the reserves have produced shining moments. Devonte Mathis (6-1, 221, redshirt sophomore) and KJ Myers (6-2, 196, redshirt junior) combined for 18 catches and 193 yards last season on the outside, while converted cornerback Vernon Davis (5-10, 165, redshirt sophomore) made most of his five catches on Jet sweeps. Look for two new contributors, Jacky Marcellus (5-8, 173 redshirt freshman) and Shelton Gibson (6-1, 186 redshirt freshman), to emerge as the top reserves next fall. Gibson was ineligible as a partial qualifier last season.

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

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Comments

  • Wvu4ever

    Don't worry we will win a lot this season 9 games we will win. All over we are better the QB situation will be handled before we beat bama

  • ole sasquatch

    I don't think it can be said that any of our receivers have great hands but probably not too bad either. However, it's always nice to be able to go to the one who has great hands in critical situations. Can we find one or does anyone know of one on the team? A freshman or 3rd stringer perhaps.

  • The CEO

    No wonder WVU can't win more than 6 games. Why are receivers like Kevin White even in the line-up? He is not tough or better than any other receiver on the roster. It doesn't matter who the QB is when White is your primary target. He is overrated...disgusting

  • TruthTeller

    Can someone explain to me why can't WVU find a real Quarterback? We have had some great ones in the past. What has happened? Is it political? Also look at the success of the SEC teams that have mediocre quarterbacks. All the other Big 12 teams seem to find these big and smart quarterbacks. Why can't WVU find anyone since the Dana era?

    • KeatonsCorner

      Really?

      Name ISU's QB

      or Kansas'

      or KSU's

      or TCU's

      The flagship, Texas, has struggled to find a QB now for half a decade....

  • Rich

    I know I'm probably in the minority here but I thought for all of Kevin White's size and NFL potential being hyped he was terrible. He can't catch! That is always a problem for WRs. Alford is our best playmaker and Shorts was the most consistent. Why did it take 8-9 games before we moved Alford outside? He flourished as the outside receiver bringing back memories of Tavon. Gibson and Marcellus come highly regarded so hopefully they will add support to the WR group. Mathis has Anquan Boldin type size yet I hardly remember him being on the field. This is a group just as talented as our RBs and full of potential let's hope they realize it

    • The CEO

      If this lame duck coaching staff don't play Devonte Mathis and other talented players this time around, WVU deserves a losing season, and Holgerson needs to go.

    • Roger Hickok

      Funny, I was thinking tge exact same thing aboyt Kevin White while reading the article..."NFL skill set"??? I recall alot of dropped balls last year, especially in the OU game. Let's hope this 2nd year in the system he will turn that around.

  • WVU FAN

    WVU's WR's are good but if we can't get them the ball in there hands a lot more this season they can't grow to be great WR's....

    1.Pass protection
    2.getting the ball to them when there open
    3.getting them the ball so they can make plays
    4.Our guys need to be able to go and get the ball.
    5.Our guys need to be able to get off the line of scrimmage with a bigger stronger guy defending them.
    6. catching the football
    7. not turning the ball over
    8. making something out of nothing
    9. yards after catch
    10. blocking down field
    11. great team mates ... Leaders on and off the field!!!

  • FNP

    All we need is a QB who is smart with the ball. Throwing the ball away isn't a bad idea at times. We've struggled at that since Geno left.

  • cutty77

    When WVU gets a QB, then the swagger will come back plain and simple.

  • Mister Man

    We'll have a QB step up.

  • justin

    WR's are fine... we just need a QB who can throw it to them...

    • Aaron

      How many yards should that QB throw for in a season? Would 3400 be adequate or do we need to throw for 4000 plus?

      • An actual athlete

        Aaron while I agree that the yardage was pretty good, lack of arm strength and ability to get open receivers the ball on time were a major problem. A can think a multiple examples per game that if the ball was thrown on time with the appropriate zip then we would have had a touchdown instead of getting our receiver blasted on a ten to fifteen yard gain.

  • FNP

    Whoever is distributing the ball needs to learn that in this offense, a 5 or 7 yard gain on first down is ok. You dont have to take shots down field on all 3 downs. Geno and the gang had this figured out and thats why the receivers had big years.

    • BooneCoEER

      That is so true! if we put our quick receivers in space and throw the dink and dunk passes we will eventually break them open. Just like the Texas game we threw quick passes when they loaded the box and we moved the chains. Every time these QBs set back there and try to air it out, they either get sacked or there so worried of taking a sack they miss there mark. Work the short game first and then if they start giving you the look you need, then throw it deep.

  • Aaron S

    Not sure what's going on but the video doesn't seem to be working. What I find interesting, at least in the print version is that none of the backs were mentioned as potential receivers. With a plethora of running backs, are none taking reps as receivers?

    • FNP

      They may be taking reps but that doesnt mean they are going to start or even be the next option. You're gonna see certain backs come in for certain packages and they will line up at the slot at times.

      I look for Buie, Garrison and Smallwood to get the most reps.

  • Rick55

    If we find a quarterback who can consistently get the ball to the receivers, our receivers can get it done, if the O-line protects. If we do not have a QB who can do this, or the O-line cannot protect, the receivers will not be successful. This might be obvious on the face of it but sometimes we forget that football is the ultimate team game and each segment has to do their part in order for the whole to have success.

    • chad

      you could have stopped after yourn first sentence. We don't have QB who can do that. This is the worst QB corps i think I've ever seen at WVU.

      • WHYNOQB

        We do not have a QB period, We can only hope William Crest can learn enough to make some kind of push to knock out the other pretenders but I look at his H.S highlights and don't see that wow factor, another long season ahead.

        • An actual athlete

          Put Smallwood at qb and run the wildcat?

      • William101

        I think everyone will be better at WR this year, but we haven't seen Marcellus or Gibson play. Gibson did not get to practice this spring, so he is almost like a true freshman even though he is a redshirt.

        That being said, he is one of the fastest players on the team. If Gibson adjusts to the college game, he could provide good depth.

        Marcellus was hyped as a freshman, but r/s. He had some flashes during the scrimmages, but he did not play at the GoldBlue game. If he can contribute as a slot receiver, that would be a good sign.

        Davis has some real potential, but there isn't room for everyone at the slot - With Squirt, Gibson, Marcellus, Davis, and a number of running backs - including A & B backs who could also play slot, it will be tough to get on the field.

    • GoEers

      Agreed!