CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The views from here:
Almost immediately after the Big 12 announced its preseason all-league football team, a reader sent me a message via Twitter."Don't you find that odd?" said the reader with the funny-but-not-printable handle. "Not even 1 [WVU player]?"My answer: Just a smidge. I studied the list. I tried to make cases for Mountaineers. And I almost struck out.
Almost.Go ahead. Take a stab.Perhaps the first name you'll point to is free safety Karl Joseph.There's no question Joseph has the potential to be on the Big 12 team. As safeties coach Tony Gibson told me, "The film [of Joseph] speaks for itself."In regard to his 2016 class, Joseph is rated as the No. 5 NFL free safety prospect, according to NFL Draft Scout. But remember, Joseph will be just a true sophomore this coming season. More importantly, he was a member of a secondary that was No. 118 of 120 nationally last year in pass defense. That's simply not going to cut it with the beat writers who selected the team.Tackle Quinton Spain? His competition was too tough. Among linemen not a center named to the Big 12 team, Baylor's Cyril Richardson is the nation's top-rated guard and the others - Kansas State's Cornelius Lucas, Texas' Trey Hopkins and Texas Tech's Le'Raven Clark - are all top 16 or above NFL prospects at their positions in their respective classes.Suggesting defensive lineman Will Clarke wouldn't be out of line. At times he was dominant last season, especially in the second half of the Oklahoma game. But which All-Big 12 player do you take off? Devonte Fields of TCU was a beast last season, earning first-team post-season honors as a freshman. Jackson Jeffcoat of Texas is likewise a stud.Isaiah Bruce? Nah. The kid had a terrific season for a freshman, but needs to become a better tackler. Besides, there are only three linebacker spots on the Big 12 first team. At this point there are more than three league linebackers better than Bruce.Which leaves us with the best Mountaineer candidate who did not make the cut: running back Charles Sims, aka the league's newcomer of the year.If you check out NFL projections, you'll see Sims ranked No. 2 to USC's Silas Redd among senior backs for next season's draft.The bad news for Sims is he's projected as a third-round pick. Baylor's Lache Seastrunk, a junior and the Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year, is a possible first-round pick two years from now. Or perhaps next year.The opening, however, is at the other running back slot. Sims could very well be paired with Seastrunk as a first-team selection. Instead, the beat writers went with Kansas State's John Hubert. That's understandable because Hubert was a first-team All-Big 12 pick after last season. Sims hasn't played one down yet in the league.Still, that's the one Mountaineer who could have, and perhaps should have, made the cut. While I had WVU hoops coach Bob Huggins on the horn the other day, I tried to pick his brain about his rebuilding job.It seems he's cautiously optimistic and mentioned the possibility of starting three guards next season.A very plausible starting lineup could include Eron Harris, Terry Henderson and Juwan Staten. Huggins could get two of his better shooters - Harris and Henderson - on the floor at the same time and allow Staten to handle the point.If, however, either of the two shooters, more likely Harris, can handle the point guard duties, Huggins would be free to add another big man to the lineup.
The coach will almost certainly start transfer Jonathan Holton and freshman Devin Williams. If Harris and/or Henderson can handle the point guard duties, Huggins could also insert shooting big man and junior college transfer Remi Dibo or, if he qualifies, strong, athletic Elijah Macon.That would seem to be the goal. And finally . . .Huggins' assistant Billy Hahn was in Cross Lanes this past Monday. A topic that came up was the summer work being put in by state product and new Mountaineer Nathan Adrian.The last time we saw Adrian in Charleston, he was playing for Morgantown High and having an off night in the state basketball tournament against South Charleston. I wrote he needed strength, better control of his emotions and, probably, a redshirt season at WVU.Hahn, however, gave a glowing report of Adrian, who has been working with strength coach Andy Kettler. "He looks like a different player," Hahn said.Huggins agreed. "He's shot the ball well in the two hours a week we've had him," said the coach. "He's played pretty well."Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.