MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia took a break from the full-contact workouts by practicing in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts Thursday afternoon. Despite the lack of hitting, there were interesting personnel developments during an 11-on-11 tempo drill.
Defensive end Shaquille Riddick, the FCS All-American transfer looking to make a splash at his new Power 5 program, surfaced with the first-string unit. That validated a week’s worth of positive reviews from teammates and coaches regarding the 6-foot-6, 244-pound senior, who made 8.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries last season at Gardner Webb.
“He can be an every-down guy, because he plays the run well,” said defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. “He’s long and a lot of people think leverage is an issue with him, but his pad level’s always down. He’s getting it. I’m happy with where he is so far.”
Riddick reportedly runs a sub 4.6-second 40, the kind of athleticism absent from West Virginia’s pass rush the past two seasons.
“His explosion is like remarkable. It’s unmatchable,” said nose guard Kyle Rose. “He’s fast and he gets off the ball quick. He’s going to be a lot of help for us.”
Riddick’s promotion left Dontrill Hyman working with the second team.
The other noteworthy change involved junior college transfer Edward Muldrow working as the starter over Isaiah Bruce at Sam linebacker.
Coincidentally, the high-energy pursuit skills that have coaches heralding Muldrow also creates the need to rein him in at times. Dana Holgorsen said Muldrow “blew some gaskets” in scrimmages, missing tackles because of poor technique.
“He’s twitchy, he’s fast, he’s physical and he’s motivated, but he’s out of control,” Holgorsen said.
“He’s learning what to do at times. He’s a prime example of when things get hard—because of fatigue, because of soreness or because of emotion—he’s got to be able to control all of that stuff.”
With Muldrow offering pass-rushing skills and Bruce holding up better against the run, their playing time may prove to be situational.
Left tackle Adam Pankey wore a green non-contact jersey and sat out the opening 11-on-11 series, affording Michael Calicchio a few snaps. Pankey later entered for a few reps.
Running back Andrew Buie sported a red jersey and did not participate in stretching.
Spur nickel back K.J. Dillon and Buck linebacker Brandon Golson participated in some position drills, seeming to indicate they’re closer to being contact-ready.
Among the reserves, offensive linemen Stone Underwood (shoulder) and Tyler Tezeno were out of pads and riding bikes, as was receiver Shelton Gibson, whose right leg was wrapped from thigh to ankle.
After one kick-return breakdown, assistant Joe DeForest stormed from midfield toward the end zone and lit into blocker Darien Bryant, the graduate transfer from Vanderbilt.
Linebacker-turned-fullback Garrett Hope climbed over two defenders to snag a wheel-route pass that William Crest lofted 20 yards down the sideline. Alas, the acrobatic attempt went for naught as the ball apparently popped loose as Hope hit the turf.
WILSON RISES AGAIN
Dayron Wilson, platooning with Pitt transfer Cullen Christian at nickel back while Dillon heals, gave the second-team defense a lift with a leaping downfield interception of Paul Millard.
During the media viewing session, Clint Trickett and Millard each quarterbacked two series, while Crest helmed the other.