MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Since hauling in a 60-yard touchdown against Virginia Tech during last season’s opener, Gary Jennings has made 86 subsequent catches yet no more scores.
That statistical anomaly seems certain to end soon for a such a high-volume receiver. However, the drought continued during preseason camp,
“I was laughing because yesterday at practice he makes a phenomenal play,” WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “But he catches it and goes out at the half-yard line. Gary’s got a ton of catches. We just have to get him in the end zone.”
Hot, hot, hot
A steamy 82-degree afternoon awaited the Mountaineers on Tuesday for their first fully padded preseason practice.
“The first thing we’re going to learn is how they can handle this heat in full gear,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “Obviously that’s something we’ve got to get prepared for, with that first game at 3:30 in Charlotte.”
West Virginia meets Tennessee on Sept. 1 at Bank of America Stadium, where the date’s average temperature is 85 degrees.
Whereas previous camps in Morgantown have featured mild weather, Gibson was thrilled by the current summer sizzle.
“This is awesome right now,” he said. “That’s why we’ve got the team room so cold, so we can take them straight out to the field and it makes it feel even hotter.
“We love it. We want it to get as hot as it can get, as humid as it can get, just nasty and dirty, the way we like it.”
The massive 360-pound Brown brothers, Joe and Michael, are in the mix at guard after arriving from Eastern Arizona Junior College. Offensive line coach Joe Wickline, notorious for revealing nothing in interviews, said both players have bright futures, and both are listed as redshirt juniors.
That’s particularly key for Joe, who enrolled at Miami in 2014 and spent two seasons there before shifting to the juco ranks the past two years. Younger brother Michael was on the expected pace after starting his junior college stint in 2016.
Apart from eligibility, Spavital was impressed with the Browns mobility:
“I didn’t think they would be that light on their feet, but they move well for being 350 pounds. Wick’s going to start throwing them in with the ones.”
“The flag football part is over. Everybody looks good for the first few days, but now I can see who’s a real guy and who’s not.” — Tony Gibson before West Virginia’s first full-contact workout