Just to be clear here, I don’t expect to see a depth chart from WVU until next Tuesday. That’s Dana Holgorsen’s first press conference of the season and the first time WVU releases a package of game notes. There’s always a depth chart early on in that packet.
Really, there’s no need to do it before then, not because the Mountaineers are worried about William & Mary, but because they don’t need to do it. And I’m not sure they’re sure about their best 11 on offense and defense, plus their backups, quite yet. I could be wrong, but I don’t see it happening just because we need it.
That said, I’m just as sure WVU knows who its quarterback is. I know it’s not out there for the public yet and I know Dana said last week he’d have it by the end of camp Saturday. I’m confident that happened and I’m equally confident he has neither need nor interest in sharing it. Yet.
But without a depth chart from WVU, how about one from me? I went through notes and interviews and conversations over the weekend and came up with this squad: The players on offense and defense who made the best use of camp.
Not necessarily stars and starters, but the people who came out of camp in a better situation than they were in when they entered it.
QB: Clint Trickett
He needed the reps to catch up to the other two, but he was also the No. 1 when Holgorsen let the media see practice — and though that might be a nominal honor, it is not a hollow one. And while Holgorsen said nice things about Paul Millard and Ford Childress, he never talked about presence and personality like he did with Trickett.
RB: Wendel Smallwood
There are five running backs in camp and while the number would suggest one is going to redshirt, it’s been made very clear it will not be Smallwood. He’s going to play because he can play. Smallwood has surged from the middle of camp to the end.
LT: Mike Callichio
This is Quinton Spain’s position and if we’re being honest, Nick Kindler and/or Pat Eger would probably get to play in a pinch before Callichio. Yet Callichio left the team in 2011, came back and redshirted last season and simply did what he was told throughout camp. He found a role on special teams, he repped at times as the second-string left tackle and added a regular dose of energy to what can be mundane practices.
LG: Marquis Lucas
It looks like Lucas will start now and has held off Eger. I think Ron Crook values Eger’s worth as much as anyone else — he can play anywhere — whereas Lucas played only a little in one game last season. Look where he is now, though.
C: Tyler Orlosky
And it looks like Orlosky will be the starter here. He wasn’t an option in the spring until Eger got hurt, but, really, we haven’t wondered who the starting center would be throughout all of camp. Orlosky locked it down early and never let go.
RG: Stone Underwood
He’s not beating out Mark Glowinski, who I nearly gave this spot to, but Underwood has a spot. It’s not at center, which is what he’s played at two colleges, but the coaches saw something in Underwood and thought enough of it to make sure he had a role.
RT: (tie) Pat Kindler/Nick Eger
That’s not a typo. I know their names. I happen to think they’re going to be very valuable, very versatile parts of the team this season because they can play multiple positions and because they know what a luxury it is to have two capable veterans waiting to go on the line.
WR: K.J. Myers
The leader, almost by default, who has talked big and played bigger so far. He thinks he’s going to do something special this season and he’s practiced that way, which is exactly what the coaches were looking for in the absence of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
WR: Ronald Carswell
Myers and Carswell benefited most when Kevin White was injured late in practice, though in different ways. Myers simply proved White wasn’t the team’s only outside receiver, while Carswell proved it wasn’t just Myers and White. We weren’t sure if Carswell was an inside or outside guy, but he was a first-team outside guy with White out at the end camp.
IR: Dakiel Shorts
Shorts, like Smallwood, is a freshman who’s going to play, and he’s been good enough that the coaches found him a spot. He’d been an outside receiver since arriving in the spring, and he could have played there, though behind the others. Noticing that wasn’t a good thing, the coaches moved him inside last week to fix the personnel there.
IR: Cody Clay
Nearly gave it to Mario Alford, who seemed to be the one true inside receiver who wasn’t as guilty by association as all the others, but all Clay did was live up to the considerable chatter about him that preceded camp. Also, he shook off a hamstring injury late in camp and practiced in white.
DE: Dontrill Hyman
Once he got comfortable, he got going. Hyman is a different guy on the edge. He’s big and strong and looks like he’s fast, too. Put him on one end and Will Clarke on the other and, whew, that looks really nice, no?
NG: Christian Brown
Nothing against Shaq Rowell, who looks lean and mean in the middle, but Brown is said to be a much better, much more complete player than he was a year ago. They’ll need two men for that position and it would appear that have that.
DE: Eric Kinsey
It’s not a guarantee that Hyman starts because Kinsey has been really good and really consistent. And similar to Brown, his progress from freshman year to sophomore year has been complimented. Whatever the order, Kinsey and Hyman will play and play a lot, and we haven’t mentioned Kyle Rose.
OLB (Bandit): Brandon Golson
I’m not sure Keith Patterson is completely happy with this position yet, but Golson is the one guy he’s had the nicest things to about so far. And Golson is a junior college guy who showed up just before the start of camp. Physically, he’s what they want. If he’s there mentally, Patterson is much happier.
OLB (Spur): Isaiah Bruce
This is the late development in camp that shuffled the deck at linebacker, but Bruce is so sound that he can move around and give Patterson as much at one spot as he did at another. So maybe Bruce, who was going to start in the middle, didn’t help himself so much, but he helped the linebackers and the defense. Patterson said Bruce is better outside than inside and that there were options inside that were just as good and possibly better than Bruce. That’s bold.
ILB (Will): Nick Kwiatoski
He hasn’t budged. The spring was his first extended time at linebacker and I think there was a theory it wouldn’t stick. It stuck. He looks like a guy in his third year in a program. He’s confident. He’s grown into his body. He’s solid. Kwiatoski was hurt at the end of camp, but ask teammates to rattle off names of players who are coming on and this is one, albeit one constantly mispronounced.
ILB (Sam): Al-Rasheed Benton
Doug Rigg and Jared Barber are going to play here and Benton might not get many snaps, but Benton gave the coaches something to think about during camp. He fills holes and hits hard and you need that physicality at that position — and let’s remember Rigg and Barber have both needed time off in the past, be it in spring, summer or the season.
CB: Daryl Worley
He’s going to play, if not on defense, then on special teams … as a return man … but I wouldn’t be surprised if the things I’ve seen and heard about the true freshman eventually lead to a starting spot. That has more to do with him than the numbers at corner, too. And let’s debunk this, because I’m guilty of it too: He was pegged as a cornerback a while ago. He was not going to be a college safety, and I’ll explain why in a moment.
CB: Avery Williams
This was a tough call, because Travis Bell is probably going to start, which is really something when you consider the two practices he had in the spring were the first of his career at corner. Still, Bell is a talent and coaches have been expecting this. Williams missed all of last season after surgery to fuse vertebrae in his neck, which made us forget that he was once considered to be arguably the most talented at the position. He worked his way to some first-team time late in camp and is certainly part of Brian Mitchell’s thought process.
S (Bandit): Darwin Cook
He looks so much better than he did last season. He’s healthy, he’s quick and he’s smiling. Those are all important. I think it was fair to wonder where his head would be this year, but he sounds like he realized he was not right last season and that he is now. Put it this way: Coaches say good things about Cook that they have not yet said about Jordan Thompson.
S (Free): Jeremy Tyler
This was WVU’s signing day shocker and Tyler hasn’t stopped with the surprises since. Players talked about the freshman before the coaches did, but by the end they were all gushing about how well he was doing. The Mountaineers need bodies on the back end, and Karl Joseph can use a break every now and then. Tyler helps, as will K.J. Dillon, who deserves mention here because he’s going to play some Spur, too. Oh, and I don’t believe Tyler is just 6-foot, 190 pounds.
Also, apologies to the specialists, but it seems clear Josh Lambert will kick, Nick O’Toole will punt, Mike Molinari will hold and John DePalma will snap. Joe DeForest is still working through candidates for punt and kick returns, but that’s not a problem. If I had to pick a special teamer for the all-camp team, I’d formally nominate Molinari, though only if he wins the kickoff job. WVU doesn’t have a kickoff guy.