MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When Trevon Wesco arrived at West Virginia from junior college three years ago, the Mountaineers didn’t even have a tight ends coach. Now that he’s departing for the NFL draft after a stellar senior season, the program is looking at the position in an entirely different way.
“We’re going to keep building this thing,” said West Virginia tight ends coach Trent Trickett. “We’re going to make this university known for having good tight end play and a really good product in that room.”
The tight end torch will be passed to Jovani Haskins this season. As a sophomore, Haskins proved a dangerous complement to Wesco, catching 16 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown.
This spring, the only other scholarship tight end actually able to practice is redshirt freshman T.J. Banks. Trickett still doesn’t know what he has in freshman Mike O’Laughlin, who redshirted last year due to a knee injury. O’Laughlin should be ready to practice in August training camp.
“He’ll be my signee, so to speak,” Trickett said. “It’s critical. It’s critical that all three guys that are healthy are able to contribute. We have three scholarship guys and we want to be at five. To do a lot with those guys, you need a good number of them… If one goes down, it’s a thin room. Knock on wood. It’s a big final week of spring for the guys here, and it’s a huge summer for us.”
Trickett noted that the potential for playing time makes the position ideal to recruit for in the coming class.
“It’s an easy sell because we had one guy get dinged the other day and we only had one guy repping,” Trickett said. “I texted the recruits and said ‘Hey, I just have one tight end today. You could be the default No. 2.’”
Trickett believes West Virginia is in a strategically advantageous area for becoming a tight end magnet.
“We’re in a northern area with West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey,” Trickett said. “That’s where a lot of big bodies come from. This whole east coast is a huge advantage for us in this conference. We can separate ourselves in some aspects, I think.”
Trickett’s visualization of West Virginia morphing into Tight End U starts with proving that Wesco’s breakthrough last season was not a one-year wonder. With the Mountaineers relatively inexperienced at receiver this fall, he thinks that will be a necessity.
“Right now with the dynamic of our team, we definitely need that tight end room to be something,” Trickett said. “We need to make sure we develop and we’re consistent. The biggest thing is consistency every day, because we need to be old reliable.”