MORGANTOWN - What I learned from WVU's football camp Friday: That sometimes coaches aren't always blowing smoke. That sometimes they teach a little more than football.
Offensive lineman Pat Eger, all 6-foot-6, 302 pounds of him, was talking about various topics when he started in on the relationship between the Mountaineer football team and West Virginia residents."In the winter," he said, "sometimes the coaches would come up and teach us about the program, the past players, the history of the state and how much [the team] means to the state."Some of these kids are from the Midwest. I'm just from [Pleasant Hills] Pennsylvania, up the road. But I learned some things."We were able to understand the significance of the team and the role it plays here. There's no pro team. And what's the population here, 1.9 million people? Ninety-five percent seem to be Mountaineer fans."We learned how West Virginia seceded from Virginia. We learned about the immigrants and coal miners. Coach [Tony Gibson] talked to us about how his dad was a coal miner."We learned about the former players, from Brian Jozwiak to Major Harris and Pat White. The younger players already knew about Geno Smith and Tavon Austin."That the coaches are still moving players around.
"I was at left tackle the first couple of days," said offensive lineman Nick Kindler. "But I've been switched to right tackle lately. Each day you have to be on your toes, be prepared for change."Kindler certainly understands change. The redshirt senior has worked with three line coaches since arriving: Dave Johnson, Bill Bedenbaugh and, now, Ron Crook.That Clint Trickett might be the odds-on-favorite to win the quarterback derby, but Ford Childress might be having a better camp to this point. Also, that Paul Millard, still listed No. 1 on the depth chart, isn't giving up.
"I'm just going to work hard," Millard said. "I've been here 21/2 years. I pride myself on working hard. Whatever happens, happens. God got me here so far."That the new receivers in camp - Ronald Carswell, Shelton Gibson and Mario Alford - all appear to be legitimate.
"Coach [Lonnie] Galloway is doing a great job with them," said running back Dustin Garrison. "They still have a little more work to do though, like understanding new routes and things like that."That there are 15 scholarship receivers in camp and 20 overall.
"It's the deepest group since I've been here," said Ivan McCartney, who was with WVU, left, then returned. "There's a lot of competition. I love it."For us to be so young, though, we're adapting so well. It's a talented group."McCartney, by the way, said he's "doing very well, better than ever."Might that mean a starting position for a senior who entered school as a highly regarded recruit?
"I'm very confident in myself," he said. "But right now I don't know. I'm just trying to help the best I can."And finally . . .
That redshirt senior Will Clarke, all 6-7, 273 pounds of him, is indeed a defensive leader.On Friday, the defensive lineman wore ice on his right shoulder. ("Just soreness," he said. "Prevention.") He said his backup, Eric Kinsey, a 6-2, 265-pound sophomore, has been getting work with the first unit.He complimented Hinds [Miss.] Community College transfer Dontrill Hyman, a 6-4, 265-pound junior."I see him playing a lot of snaps," Clarke said. "He has a lot of explosion. He just needs to get some technique down."Then he gave a state of the WVU football state address.
"As the days go on," he said, "the intensity is picking up. There's a battle going on between the offense and defense."Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.