Spring Camp opens smoothly
Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 23:03
The Dana Holgorsen era officially began Wednesday when the West Virginia football team took the field for the first of 15 practices of its spring camp.
Changes by the Mountaineers' offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting could already be noticed. West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart said his players picked up the changes fairly easily for the first day of camp.
"Today was Day 1, and it was a step in the right direction," Stewart said. "They had a lot of effort and enthusiasm in their step. They were all glad to get out here because it has been a long winter."
The players were in shorts and helmets for the first day, which Stewart said is a reason he's not being over optimistic, yet.
"During Day 1 in shorts and jerseys, you can't tell much about your team," Stewart said. "I just liked the way that they gelled today."
The practice was the first time back for starting quarterback Geno Smith, who went through offseason foot surgery.
Smith participated in all drills Wednesday in quarterbacks' typical non-contact gold jersey. He shared repetitions with freshmen Paul Millard and Brian Athey.
Another surprise on the field was junior Tyler Urban. The senior, who played tight end for the first three years of his career, lined up in the slot receiver position throughout practice and made two impressive catches over the middle.
"I wouldn't say he is a guy without a position, because he is a big slot receiver," Stewart said. "He reminds me of the (Mike) Shanahan boy from Pittsburgh. He was his high school teammate. I see him in that role, and I see him getting into the backfield in the three back set."
Inside wide receivers coach Shannon Dawson says the typical use of tight ends are not something this coaching staff buys into.
"A true tight end, in the sense of the word, is a guy who puts his hand on the ground," Dawson said. "(Urban) is a talented kid with a big body. He can move, and he has a lot of tools. We have used guys like him in the past."
If Urban continues to make plays like he did Wednesday, the expectation is for him to be on the field when the Mountaineers open the season on Sept. 3.
"In my mind, it is about making plays because that is what is going to get you on the field," Dawson said. "If he keeps doing what he did today, he will play."