CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The views from here:When WVU's football team takes the field at 2 p.m. this Saturday for its annual Gold-Blue scrimmage game, most will be watching the quarterbacks.
Indeed, that will be interesting. Does the younger, stronger Ford Childress have a grasp of the offense a la Paul Millard, the more experienced of the QB contenders? Are the whispers of Childress' recklessness with the ball founded or unfounded?Yet there are a few other areas to watch as the Mountaineers retool for Year Two in the Big 12.Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson has said "it's a good time to be a running back at West Virginia." The reason: young quarterbacks.My question: Is it a wonderful time to be a running back at WVU named Dreamius Smith?By all accounts, Smith, the junior college transfer from Butler Community College, hit Morgantown ready to rock. And word is, rock he has. If that's the case, it could be a huge lift for head coach Dana Holgorsen. Smith, 5-foot-11, 217 pounds, could do the heavy lifting. Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison could provide nice changeups, along with sprinkles of Cody Clay and freshman Wendell Smallwood.It will be interesting to watch Clay, the pride of Alum Creek and George Washington High, who has earned raves as an H-back this spring.Many will naturally check out the receivers. Junior college transfer Kevin White opened many eyes at the beginning of camp. The word is he began spring drills on fire before fading a bit of late. Yet he's a big, strong kid with sure hands. Freshman Daikiel Shorts should be fun to watch.But the Mountaineers have other receivers hitting Morgantown for fall camp that could make splashes. Recruiting gem Shelton Gibson and highly touted Mario Alford and Ronald Carswell could all make huge impacts.
So, from this perspective anyway, what will prove more interesting is the shape of the rebuilt offensive line. What is there around left tackle Quinton Spain? Is Pat Eger, if healthy enough to play, a viable candidate to replace Joe Madsen at center, or will the coaches be praying junior college transfer Stone Underwood is ready to go?Defensively, of course, WVU's coaches and fans are simply hoping for improvement of any sort. And, truth be told, I expect more than a handful of newcomers to bust into the two-deep depth chart on that side of the ball in the fall.I'd be shocked if 6-6 d'Vante Henry, who was offered by Oklahoma and Texas A&M, among others, doesn't challenge or take over at the spur. At the buck, where you'll see Dozie Ezemma, freshman Brandon Golson will surely challenge if he gets his legal and academic issues in order. Golson was offered by Arizona, Kansas State, A&M and South Carolina, among others.Along the defensive front, junior college transfer Dontrell Hyman, offered by LSU and Mississippi State, will make a mark at end. Freshman Al-Rasheed Benton should challenge Nick Kwiatkoski and Jared Barber at weak-side linebacker.In the backfield, one has to look for the returns of Travis Bell and Avery Williams from the doghouse and injury, respectively.
It will be interesting to watch redshirt freshman kicker Josh Lambert on Saturday. (Mike Molinari will be punting, but junior college punter Nick O'Toole has been signed and will hit camp in the fall.)In sum, the quarterbacks will be in the spotlight. But also check out the running backs (specifically Smith), the offensive line (specifically, if healthy, Eger) and the kicker.Switching gears to WVU hoops, it's somewhat odd that Martinsburg High's Donte' Grantham, this past season's state player of the year, didn't make a commitment to the Mountaineers before today, the national letter-of-intent signing day.
It's not that Grantham doesn't have other options. He does, including offers from Clemson and Marshall, among others. He should feel free to go exactly where he wishes.But every single indicator pointed to Grantham committing to WVU. He has a terrific relationship with WVU assistant Ronnie Everhart. He visited Morgantown and was offered a scholarship by head coach Bob Huggins. He's indicated the Mountaineers have always been his favorite team. Then he participated in last Saturday's Scott Brown Invitational and played on the same team as the other four Mountaineer signees.Yet, as of Tuesday afternoon, we've heard nothing but crickets on that front. Quiet as night.
Grantham, a 6-foot-7 forward, lifted the 26-2 Bulldogs to the most recent Class AAA championship.And finally . . .
Those in the Kanawha Valley seeking a reason to get outside might want to check out the local colleges' spring games.Pat Kirkland and the University of Charleston will unveil the latest version of the Golden Eagles team at 7 p.m. Thursday at UC Stadium at Laidley Field.New West Virginia State University coach Jon Anderson will showcase his Yellow Jackets at 3 p.m. on April 27 at Lakin Field in Institute.Just thought you should know.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.