Jobs wide open at skill positions for WVU
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 07:02
For the West Virginia football team, the 2013 season will come with many unknowns.
After the stability of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey leading the way as the Mountaineers’ playmakers for the past three seasons, head coach Dana Holgorsen and the rest of the coaching staff are stuck with the daunting task of finding players to fill the voids left by the three.
"Probably our biggest need on offense was to add playmakers," Holgorsen said. "When you lose Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods (at wide receiver), you better go out and add some guys that have that ability."
So that’s exactly what they did.
On National Signing Day, West Virginia received letters of intent from five wide receivers, a quarterback and three running backs to help with some much-needed depth.
Holgorsen was pleased with the crop of receivers the coaching staff was able to bring in, which includes the likes of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, native Shelton Gibson and junior college receiver Kevin White – who is already on campus for the spring semester and will be one of the seven new recruits participating in spring practice.
"These are guys that we are going to get the ball to in space," Holgorsen said of his new wide receivers. "Whether the guys that are here now can hold down a spot will be fun to watch in camp. We will be anxious to add these guys."
The biggest thing for the staff to find when looking for prospects to bring into Morgantown wasn’t as much to find player to fill the roles of Austin and Bailey but to find guys who could fit in well in Morgantown and would feel at home at WVU.
"The biggest thing is getting guys that want to be here," Holgorsen said. "When you get them, you have to get them better. You make sure the parents feel good about the relationship. This staff has done a great job of that.
"We have identified who wants to be here ... We are going to coach the heck out of them."
And the coaches know that with the high-powered nature of the Mountaineer offense, they don’t necessarily have to find one or two players to fill in for Austin and Bailey. It can be a group of players stepping up and making plays.
"If you put the work into what you’re doing (in this offense), it’s proven to work," said wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway. "We just have to be able to coach them hard. It’s a good situation for us."
For now, though, West Virginia will have a group of heated competitions for every job. That’s especially true when the Mountaineers’ leading returning receiver is sophomore Jordan Thompson, who caught 13 passes for 85 yards.
Only sophomores K.J. Myers and Dante Campbell have caught touchdown passes at WVU.
"To consider those guys underneath (Austin, Bailey and Woods on the depth chart) is a mistake, because they didn’t do anything," said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. "There’s going to be uncomfortability (sic) with the people we have coming in and the people we have coming back.
"The best people are going to play ... You make plays, you play."