MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Rewind to West Virginia’s spring game, and more specifically to a third-and-2 stretch run by Wendell Smallwood. The outside running lane looked clear. A big gainer looked imminent.
Then, SWOOOOSH! Nickle back Dayron Wilson spurted through the line at a 45-degree angle and dropped Smallwood from behind.
It was an attention-getter, the kind Wilson has been reproducing during the first four days of preseason camp. Now the walk-on from Lackawanna College is a walk-on no more.
Coach Dana Holgorsen awarded the redshirt junior with a scholarship after Saturday’s practice.
“Dayron made two or three plays at the end—he made an unbelievable interception and had a tackle for loss,” Holgorsen said Monday. “He’s been doing great. He’s going to be a good one for us.”
The 5-foot-11, 204-pound Wilson is temporarily running with the first-team at the Spur hybrid spot, at least until starter K.J. Dillon recovers from a sprained ankle. But Wilson is proving he can make plays in the inevitable event injuries surface.
A Woodbridge, Va., native who led Lackawanna with 68 tackles as a sophomore in 2012, Wilson walked on at West Virginia in 2013 over offers from Appalachian State and Illinois State.
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Asked whether he was tired of lamenting last year’s string of close losses, Holgorsen said: “It’s better than getting your ass kicked.”
While Adam Pankey and Marquis Lucas are entrenched but essentially untested as the starting offensive tackles, the staff is trying to identify a capable backup who can serve as a swing player.
Redshirt freshman Marcell Lazard and junior-college transfer Sylvester Townes are the second-stringers currently.
“We’re really looking for the third tackle right now,” he said. “Marcel and Sylvester are young guys that just need reps. We’ve got our two starters but we need a third tackle in case something happens.”
If there’s a potential panic spot in the offense, this is it. Neither Pankey or Lucas has started a college game at their position, though Pankey platooned for eight games last season and Lucas started four at left guard.