MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – There’s a very good chance you haven’t seen everyone who will contribute for the West Virginia football team this season make it onto the field just yet.
As the season moves towards the home stretch, several players who will remain eligible for redshirts if they play in four games or fewer are likely to play. Coach Dana Holgorsen shared the short list during his weekly radio show on Tuesday night.
Fans can expect to see tight end TJ Banks, offensive guard Mike Brown, wide receiver Bryce Wheaton and safety Kwantel Raines play several times throughout West Virginia’s final five games of the season.
Holgorsen has to be more selective with receiver Sam James, who has already appeared in two games but will still be redshirted barring injuries to other receivers.
“He’s got dynamic speed,” Holgorsen said of James. “He’s played a little bit in two games. We probably shouldn’t have last week. Hindsight is easy when it comes to that. We’re trying to redshirt him. He’s doing a good job and working hard. Before the year is over, I guarantee he’ll make a play.”
With James spending at least three remaining games on the shelf, Wheaton is a player who may get an opportunity. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound target is a third-generation Mountaineer, following in the footsteps of grandfather Garrett Ford Sr. and uncle Garrett Ford Jr.
“The last couple of weeks we threw it to him in our Thursday night scrimmages, and he made some plays that made you go ‘wow,’” Holgorsen said. “Before the year is over, we’ll be able to get him out there to take some snaps.”
Banks may become useful if the Mountaineers look to bulk up should opposing defenses follow Iowa State’s model in going all-out to prevent the deep passing game from getting on track, both as a blocker and in the intermediate passing game.
“If we need him, we’ll play him,” Holgorsen said.
Brown, whose older brother Joe was West Virginia’s Week 1 starter at right guard, finds himself moving up the depth chart as the season progresses.
“Mike Brown had his best week of practice,” Holgorsen said. “He gets his pads low and gets after people.”
Raines may be the most likely to make an immediate impact. Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson already has a green light to use Raines for the rest of the season if he needs to. With Derrek Pitts questionable for the Baylor game, it’s certainly a possibility.
“Our safety depth is not awesome,” Holgorsen said. “So if we need him, play him.”