Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Utah defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei sacks West Virginia quarterback Chris Chugunov during the Heart of Dallas Bowl in December.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Quarterback Chris Chugunov, who was elevated into a starting role during West Virginia’s final two games last season, plans to graduate this spring and transfer.

“We certainly appreciate everything he’s done for the program in his four years here,” coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Actually, it has only been three years. Chugunov redshirted in 2015, saw mop-up duty in 2016, and was thrust into the go-to role last November when Will Grier sustained a gruesome hand injury against Texas.

The Mountaineers lost that day, the beginning of a three-game season-ending skid, with Chugunov absorbing a series of brutal hits from blitzers.

Chugunov ends his West Virginia career completing 45-of-95 passes for 551 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

His accelerated coursework means he has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Chugunov’s exit leaves the Mountaineers short on backup quarterbacks this spring. Another reserve, David Isreal, previously announced he was transferring on the heels of redshirting in 2017.

Grier, along with transfer Jack Allison and newly enrolled freshman Trey Lowe, are the only quarterbacks on the spring roster, and Lowe’s availability is curbed by splitting time with the baseball team.

Just don’t expect offensive coordinator Jake Spavital to relive his Missouri State quarterback days by throwing passes at practice.

“Nope,” he said. “I’m done with those days.”

Other graduate transfers leaving the program are nose tackle Jaleel Fields (nine career tackles in 16 games) and receiver Ricky Rogers (three catches in 12 games).

Injury absences

Linebacker David Long and nose tackle Lamonte McDougle have been ruled out for spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgeries. Their concurrent rehab schedules presents challenges.

“The worst thing in the world that happened to Lamonte McDougle was having shoulder surgery the same day as David Long,” Holgorsen joked. “They rehab together like every day, and David is an absolute machine. Lamonte is young and big, so he struggles.”

Long injured his shoulder during the Heart of Dallas Bowl loss to Utah. His 15.5 TFLs led the team and ranked fifth in the Big 12 last season though Long sat out the first four games with a knee injury.

The 5-foot-10 McDougle emerged as a surprising nine-game starter in his freshman season, making 22 tackles and two sacks while forcing and recovering one fumble.

“You wish Lamonte could go through spring, being young, but we don’t care if David Long goes through spring or not,” Holgorsen said.

Redshirt freshman safety Exree Loe also will be sidelined by a pectoral injury.

On the outgoing Dews

While praising new assistant Marquell Blackwell for “having a deep football background and a good recruiting presence,” Holgorsen wished departed running backs coach Tony Dews best of luck with the Tennessee Titans.

“He’s always wanted to be in the NFL,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t get bent out of shape whatsoever if guys make moves they’ve always dreamed of doing.”