Spring practice topics: Tuxedos, roommates and rec hoops

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dana Holgorsen keeps his promises when it comes to proms.

Among the players cleared to miss West Virginia’s spring practice Saturday was freshman Kennedy McKoy, the early enrollee who returned to Lexington, N.C., for his high school prom.

“I always let those guys go back for prom,” Holgorsen said. “Couple of them were gone for prom last week, couple will be gone for prom next week. The one deal I make with our early enrollees is that they can go home and do that.”

But the coach added, “I make them bring back pictures.”

Depth chart changes: The first-team units largely were unchanged from last week, with the exceptions of two spots. Redshirt freshman Colton McKivitz supplanted Marcell Lazard at offensive right tackle, and Antonio Crawford moved ahead of Rasul Douglas at cornerback.

Lazard, now a fourth-year junior, started six games at the spot last season. His stint with the second unit may say a lot about the development of McKivitz or essentially nothing—considering how coaches make some moves merely to test a player’s resolve.

That’s part of the ploy by cornerbacks coach Blue Adams, who admitted Saturday that “just for fun I continue to mix it up.”

Rangy and solid, Douglas is by far West Virginia’s most physically impressive defensive back, though he looked lost in 2015 after being a late arrival from junior college. Crawford is a smaller, quicker cornerback who transferred in with 38 games of experience at Miami. Both seniors project to play pivotal snaps next fall.

“Guys can get settled into that No. 1 spot, but it’s like the Rolls-Royce, and everybody can’t drive it,” Adams said. “I might let you borrow it a little bit, but until you’ve earned it …”

To simulate live-game situations where injuries force unexpected substitutions, Adams creates quick-change scenarios, sometimes waiting until the first-team defense is in the huddle before yelling “Switch it!” He’s gauging responses for both players.

“You just got seemingly ‘demoted,’ so how do you come out and work with the twos? How do you come back and compete?” Adams said. “And the other guy, he just go bumped up and gets to run with ones, so how does that affect your play?

“I need to find out where those guys are mentally, and how far I can push them, so I can govern it and manage it.”

Still hooping (on the side): Left tackle Yodny Cajuste realizes he made the right call switching from basketball to football as a high school senior, and he’s grateful to former WVU assistant Damon Cogdell for the push.

Not that basketball is completely out of his blood. The 6-foot-5 sophomore still considers himself a crossover talent.

“We went to the rec about two months ago and I was ballin’ on them,” he said. “Our starting five was me, Xavier Preston, Noble (Nwachukwu), Darrien Howard and Rasul Douglas. We ran the court.”

Losing roomies: After three years of living with Wendell Smallwood and Daryl Worley, this spring represents an adjustment for senior receiver Daikiel Shorts, who’s now sharing a place with David Sills.

His former roommates, after declaring early for the NFL draft, have been training away from campus and returned last weekend for pro day.

“Daryl got on me and told me to answer my phone because I haven’t been hitting him up enough since he’s been in town,” Shorts said. “But he doesn’t realize I have school and football still. I’m not free 24/7.”

The Grier effect: How did backup quarterbacks Chris Chugunov, William Crest and David Sills take this week’s news of ex-Florida starter Will Grier transferring to WVU?

“The news came out Wednesday and actually I thought they responded well Thursday,” said offensive graduate assistant Michael Burchett. “They all had a high sense of urgency, were eager to learn, practiced well and threw the ball well. Maybe it lit a fire under them.”

A former national top-50 recruit, Grier is scheduled to enroll in May and becomes eligible in 2017.

“That’s why they play Division I football,” Burchett said. “There’s going to be other guys in that room they have to compete with, and they should welcome the challenge and try to get better.”

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