Throughout the spring, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and his offensive staff have been tasked with evaluating position battles all over the field.
Neither Paul Millard nor Skyler Howard have been given the reins at quarterback. Five running backs are still fighting for carries with no clear-cut leader.
Left tackle was supposed to be up in the air, like the quarterback and running back positions, but redshirt sophomore Adam Pankey was given an opportunity to win the job early.
Pankey took full advantage of it by winning the left tackle job before the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game.
When reporters asked Holgorsen about the most impressive player throughout the spring, he had a simple response.
“If I’m going to pinpoint people, it would be Adam Pankey at left tackle,” Holgorsen said.
After tearing his ACL in spring 2013, Pankey recovered in time to play in eight games as a redshirt freshman last season. He added depth at tackle and even played at guard on occasion. In total, he was used on 126 offensive snaps.
“The biggest thing was being able to get my feet wet. I got to see how fast the game is at this level, (and) it definitely helped a lot,” Pankey said. “I know what to expect now week in and week out in the Big 12.”
To prepare for the spring, Pankey had to transform his body into a typical left tackle frame. At 6-foot-6, he turned excess weight into muscle.
“I had to work on my upper body,” he said. “I’m still working on it. The biggest thing for me is just continuing to get stronger.
“I’m a little younger than everybody else, so I’ll continue to work on strength even through the summer offseason.”
Pankey is listed ahead of Michael Calicchio and Grant Lingafelter on the depth chart, but he hasn’t shown any sign letting either guy take his place.
“(Pankey) has really taken to heart playing the position of left tackle and understanding how important it is,” said offensive line coach Ron Crook. “He’s still got a lot of stuff to work on, but we’re really happy with the direction and the improvements that he is making.”
The Hamilton, Ohio, native has been able to gel with returning starters this spring, gaining early continuity on the offensive line heading into the summer.
“It’s good to be next to someone (who is a) veteran like Quinton (Spain) and Mark (Glowinski); you can learn a lot from them, (since) they’ve been here for a long time,” Pankey said. “The veteran guys have really helped me out.”
So while West Virginia continues to determine a starting quarterback and choose a running back, there is no question Adam Pankey will be the man protecting the blindside and creating holes for whoever is throwing and running the ball.