Matt Sunday/WVMetroNews.com

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen watches his players stretch during fall practice at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.

 

COMMENTARY

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia released its first updated depth chart of the preseason Tuesday, a lineup made more conclusive because it comes 72 hours after the team’s first scrimmage of fall camp.

With 18 days remaining before the Georgia Southern game, this won’t necessarily mirror the opening-day lineup, but it reveals a few interesting tidbits:

The newcomers are ready to contribute at wide receiver. Check out junior college transfer Ka’Raun White and true freshman Jovon Durante being an either/or proposition at the X spot. Even more surprisingly, there’s true freshman Gary Jennings listed in a dead heat with sophomore Shelton Gibson on the opposite side. The quantity of quality allows Daikiel Shorts to return to the slot, where he has been used primarily in his first two seasons.

Yodny Cajuste is holding up. The redshirt freshman “got exposed” in drills early in camp, according to Dana Holgorsen, and line coach Ron Crook has openly addressed a contingency plan for shifting guard Adam Pankey back to left tackle if necessary. But following Saturday’s 100-play scrimmage, Cajuste remains atop the depth chart, proving he hasn’t given coaches a reason to panic.

Elijah Wellman ahead of Donte Thomas-Williams. Maybe this speaks to Wellman’s blocking in two-back sets or his pass-catching ability. Still, it’s surprising seeing the Spring Valley graduate as essentially the No. 3 running back (behind Shell and Wendel Smallwood) instead of Thomas-Williams, the former four-star recruit who clearly isn’t being handed anything.


Two backup battles to watch on defense. With most positions on lockdown, there’s zero suspense in the starters. But Larry Jefferson, hyped as part of WVU’s pass-rush remedy coming out of junior college, finds himself listed third-string behind former walk-on Jon Lewis. Meanwhile, the free safety backup to Dravon Askew-Henry is Shane Commodore, who’s still a walk-on. Lewis and Commodore attended rival high schools just a few miles from campus, so they’re providing some local flavor.

That darn Dillon. I was hesitant to place much stock in KJ Dillon actually being a returner this season primarily because he plays sooooooo many snaps defensively. But as it stands today, he’s the deep man on both return units. Not bad for a guy who essentially decided to insert himself into the position during the spring game.

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