MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For proof coaches second-guess themselves, rewind to the fall of 2012 when the West Virginia staff wondered if offensive lineman Mark Glowinski was a wasted scholarship.
Dana Holgorsen used Glowinski’s tale as a parable on throwback Thursday, admitting he was tempted to throw back the junior college signee:
“I looked at him thinking, boy, did we make a mistake here?” Holgorsen said. “There were times where he couldn’t play more than two or three plays in a row and was breathing hard, struggling and he just did not look good.”
Yet Glowinski looked very good on the cover of Athlon’s preseason magazine this summer, posing alongside Quinton Spain in a splash of preseason publicity for what Holgorsen now describes as one of the best guard tandems in the nation.
“People from back home were getting on Facebook and saying they saw my magazine at Wegman’s,” Glowinski said. “People at home were buying them all up.”
Holgorsen marvels at Glowinski’s transformation from dead weight to heavy hitter: “Going into his senior year, he is as good as an offensive guard as I’ve seen.”
Glowinski admittedly required a redshirt that first season in Morgantown, yet by late fall he sensed his scout-team performances were getting noticed.
“I was working hard, doing what I needed to do, and the coaches were definitely impressed because the (first-team) defensive guys got yelled at a lot,” he said. “So that became my goal, to try to get them yelled at as much as possible.”
By last season, Glowinski was hunkered down at right guard, becoming the only West Virginia lineman to start all 12 games at the same spot.
This season, he and Spain have become the faces of the offense, at least as far as Athlon’s goes. Glowinski wasn’t bashful about enjoying the photo shoot, and bringing hype to typically anonymous linemen.
“We were like fake models—people that you never want to see,” he said.
TOWNES NEEDS TIME
Much like Glowinski, junior college transfer Sylvester Townes needs a developmental year and Holgorsen plans to redshirt the 6-5, 290-pounder.
“Offensive line is pretty tough,” he said. “(Glowinski) needed that year, and I would imagine a year from now when we talk about Sylvester Townes it will be the same thing.”
Townes enrolled in spring and was projected to compete for a backup tackle spot. That reserve job now appears within the purview of 6-foot-9 Michael Calicchio, a former WVU walk-on who transferred to Division II for a season only to return in 2012.
Holgorsen admitted Calicchio didn’t resemble much of a prospect early in his career, but has now received one of WVU’s final three scholarships this season.
“This big, giant of a man was awful five years ago when he showed up. He couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time,” Holgorsen said. “(Now) he is one of our leaders on the entire team right now. When he talks, people listen.”
BARBER MULLS REDSHIRT
Linebacker Jared Barber, nine months removed from tearing his ACL as Texas scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime, won’t be available for the season opener against Alabama.
If the senior remains hobbled, Holgorsen is open to a redshirt that would allow Barber to return as a fifth-year player in 2015.
“It’s unfortunate—he is such a good team leader,” Holgorsen said. “He will still have that role as a leader. He gets down there and coaches the heck out of the linebackers. He is a great kid to have around.”
Returning starter Icky Banks, who’s being pushed by Terrell Chestnut in the race for left cornerback, was not spotted at practice Thursday during the media’s half-hour viewing session.
Chestnutt ran with the first team and Ricky Rumph repped with the second.
At the opposite corner where Daryl Worley has a starting job locked down, Keishawn Richardson ran with the second unit.
Travis Bell, a starter much of last season at cornerback before being suspended during the spring, worked at nickel back.
During a 6-on-8 passing drill, WVU’s quarterbacks and skill players ran routes against the linebackers and secondary.
Nick Kwiatkoski reacted sharply to get his hands on a couple passes, though one resulted in a dropped interception and the next was deflected into the arms of a diving Jordan Thompson.
MOLINARI’S GOOFY INJURY
Michael Molinari, currently sidelined from kicking off while he sports a walking boot, had Holgorsen shaking his head at WVU’s specialists.
“They are a bunch of goof balls,” the coach said. “Molinari did something. He won a bet, so he did a big chest bump and came down and twisted his ankle. At that point, we had to remind them that they have a job that they have a job to do.”
Holgorsen expect Molinari “will be fine,” but in the meantime punter Nick O’Toole has been practicing kickoffs.