Observers thought Josh Lambert was not right at the end of last season, even though he got on a pretty good roll and proved to be accurate and reliable inside of 50 yards. Joe DeForest said today Lambert is making 60-yard field goals in camp.
“I don’t want to say with ease, but they’re clearing by four or five yards,” he said.
DeForest then said the sophomore is healthy and stronger and that he can tell both by just the sound the ball makes when it hits his foot. Why DeForest pointed out he was healthy and stronger made me think, so I asked the obvious.
I couldn’t find it on the Mayo Clinic website, but I trust it’s accurate.
Other notes from Wednesday’s interviews with the assistant coaches..
- Daejuan Funderburk is the third-team free safety behind Dravon Henry and Jeremy Tyler. That means Ricky Rumph is back at cornerback. And that means a sophomore who rarely played last season and two freshmen are playing free safety, which will be the deep man in a lot of single-high safety stuff in the fall.
That said, if you have to play a green guy in the secondary, you’d rather it be there than on the perimeter or in space.
- Henry and Tyler are about as close to even as can be right now. That’s the reality. The perception will be a bit different because of the headlines and the interest in a true freshman, but Tyler gets just as many compliments.
- Personally, I have an eye on Karl Joseph, who I bet has sat out fewer than 25 plays in 25 career games. That odometer has to be getting up there, especially the way he’s played in the past and the way a new position will encourage him to play in the fall. DeForest loves the way Jarrod Harper has handled himself as the backup. It’d be nice to give Joseph a rest here and there.
- Brian Mitchell is rolling in it right now. Rumph can play — and has — at this level. He’s somewhere behind Daryl Worley and Ickey Banks. So, too, are Travis Bell, who coaches really like, Terrell Chestnut and Nana Myeremeh, who are both healthy, Brandon Napoleon, who very quietly has been around a long time and is approaching And Also status, and Keishawn Richardson, the junior college transfer who was here in the spring.
Mitchell never had such a luxury last season.
- William Crest is the No. 3 punt returner right now behind Jordan Thompson and Mario Alford. DeForest said it. He likes the fact Crest can catch and run. It still seems like a way to get him used to the speed of the game, but it sounds like they want to give him a chance to contribute so long as he earns it. Remember, too, that Crest can still throw the ball laterally as a punt returner. I’m just throwing that out there.
- Want a name at receiver? Try Vernon Davis. Shannon Dawson spoke up and said he’s obviously improved form the spring and can play inside or outside.
- Dawson also said Rushel Shell is in shape after falling out while sitting out last season — and remember, he walked on, so he wasn’t privy to the training table and other perks that were exclusive to scholarship players. “He wasn’t as far out of shape as I am right now,” Dawson said. He added that the Pitt transfer (via a short spell on the UCLA campus) doesn’t get the credit he deserves, or that others in that platoon get, for being an all-around back who can run different ways and also run routes and catch passes. That’s new to me. “His ball skills are good, probably better than I envisioned them being,” he said.
- Want a name on the offensive line? Let’s see where this goes, but this is twice now someone has pointed out Grant Lingafelter and how he gets better every day.
- Shaquille Riddick is getting Bruce Irvin comparisons and … I just don’t know. I haven’t heard a coach volunteer that yet. It’s been in response to questions about whether Riddick reminds them of Irvin, so maybe the coaches are just filling notebooks or referring to the situation where both transfer in to help.
I sense people want to connect the two, and surely WVU wants a similar impact, but let’s not force it. To me, they’re different guys. I think Riddick is more Will Clarke or Julian Miller than Irvin. Riddick is a big, big dude. He’s bigger than Irvin, who was not small. I think Riddick can play more at the beginning and handle the run — and he rented space in FCS backfields. We forget, but Irvin was basically a pass-rush specialist his first season. Conversely, I have to believe Irvin is a better pass rusher. He was elite. A very nice ceiling for Riddick is an every down player who chases eight sacks and twice as many TFLs, right?
- Speaking of defensive ends, that’s not Damon Cogdell’s deal. He and Scrap Bradley are working with the defensive line, and Cogdell said he’s with the ends. Gibby and graduate assistant Anthony Leonard are the linebacker coaches.
- And how about we end with a name at linebacker? Next to running back, it’s WVU’s deepest position … and honestly might be better situated for practical purposes since three play at a time and the same three are never healthy. This one came unprompted from linebackers coach Tony Gibson. “Wes Tonkery, right now, if I had to pinpoint one guy, has had the best camp among the ‘backers,” he said. “He does everything. He runs well, he’s physial and he understands our scheme. That’s the most important thing about him. He understands it. He needs one or two reps and he gets it, and he continues to get better and better.”
(Nothing new on Angus, McCrary, Myers and Scott.)