Shawne Alston had 12 of West Virginia's 25 rushing touchdowns last season.
MORGANTOWN - WVU's running back position will be interesting to watch when fall camp resumes. Again, there will be a pack.Dustin Garrison proved to be the main ball carrier last season, when he rushed for 742 yards on 136 carries as a true freshman. However, he injured a knee in practice and missed the Orange Bowl and spring drills.Andrew Buie was last season's initial starter, but struggled at times and had injuries. Coach Dana Holgorsen, however, said during spring drills Buie is now "healthy and motivated."There are freshmen coming in. And Holgorsen has proven he won't hesitate to play one.
But veteran Shawne Alston finished spring drills as the odds-on-favorite to win the starting job. And now he's ready to the leader of the pack. With emphasis on "lead.""I consider myself a leader," Alston said this week. "I sat down with the coaches and we talked about it. They want me to be more of a leader, more of a vocal leader and not just try and lead by example."Alston said the Mountaineers have moved from four to five days a week of training."We're working on speed, power and conditioning," he said. "Tuesdays and Thursdays we have team workouts to build team unity."Individually, Alston has been trying to cut weight. He said he's now 5-foot-11, 239 pounds and wants to get down to "the 228-230 area."
"I want to improve all around," he said. "In 7-on-7 [drills], I'm working on catching passes out of the backfield. I'm trying to get stronger. I'm in the film room trying to learn from the mistakes of last season."Alston said despite the Orange Bowl rout of Clemson to end the season, there were mistakes - individually and as a team."We need to complement each other more," Alston said. "Offensively, we need to stop going three-and-out. And if we have a good play, don't live too long on it. If we have a bad play, don't live too long on that either."WVU's team reports at the beginning of August."People will be surprised at the amount of playmakers we have," Alston said. "We have a vast amount of people who can make plays."Offensively, Alston said Mountaineer fans would be pleasantly surprised by the play of receivers Dante Campbell, Jordan Thompson and K.J. Myers. Defensively, he said to watch for Taige Redman, Tyler Anderson and freshman Karl Joseph, a safety.
"Joseph doesn't play like a freshman," Alston said. "He moves well on the field."Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.