MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two days after giving what he thought was a harmless and honest response to a question about recruiting advantages gained from the summer’s NCAA legislation reform, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen issued a statement Wednesday clarifying the remark.
“In a lighthearted moment, I made a comment in jest that was meant to imply that the unlimited meals will be an important selling point with recruits and that all coaches will have to be salesmen on this matter,” Holgorsen wrote. “I further implied that the best way for recruits to understand what really is occurring on a campus is by having them talk to the current student-athletes.”
Holgorsen said Monday that coaches “lie a bunch in recruiting,” but said establishing a reality for what will be offered is important. He said WVU encourages players to be honest with recruits on visits and for recruits to ask questions as a way to dispel dishonesty.
“I used a poor choice of words in explaining this position,” Holgorsen wrote Wednesday.
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RECOVERED from a severe hamstring injury that forced him to redshirt last season and more than 32 months removed from a career-altering ACL tear, running back Dustin Garrison is finally able to tend to his body.
The junior has added seven pounds of muscle since the end of last season and was among the team’s most decorated weight room performers for things like his power clean, squat and bench press, but also accountability.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger,” he said. “I worked out a lot more than I’d been used to, and that’s helped me become a more confident blocker. It’s been good for not just my body, but my mindset, too. That’s something I wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to help make plays. I want to help spring big runs and do things like that for the offense.”
Whether or not it sticks, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Garrison has practiced at times as a blocker deep on kickoff returns in front of the returners. Blocking is a required strength for running backs, a lesson Dreamius Smith learned last season when he was pulled from the Oklahoma game for costly struggles that occurred after a 75-yard touchdown run.
It might be needed more this season. Garrison and Andrew Buie have both led WVU in rushing before and Wendell Smallwood is prepared to assume a role similar to the one Charles Sims had last season. Smith and Pitt transfer Rushel Shell have both been second-leading rushers and have battles throughout camp for the lead role with the Mountaineers.
WVU has the ability to use more than one of those names at a time and to make use of the three-back formation that’s been so effective here before. Since only one can run, the others have to be able to block.
For now, though, it’s running a little behind.
“Most of the time we have two fullbacks and a tailback, but right now we’re actually doing some more with two tailbacks in there, just because it keeps the defense guessing,” Garrison said. “If you have two fullbacks in there, (defenders) know where the ball is going. When you have two (running backs), it’s, ‘Who gets it? Which way is it going?’ It’s more confusing when you have two or three tailbacks and any one of them can carry the ball.”
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JACOB McCRARY, one of the four players who signed with WVU in February but had yet to enroll, is headed to a junior college.
He said Tuesday night on Twitter he wasn’t enrolling with the Mountaineers and then told recruiting services he’d committed to Marshall. On Wednesday, McCrary went on Twitter again and said he’d decided to go to junior college and hopes to eventually play for the Mountaineers. He must earn an associate degree at his junior college before he can enroll at a four-year school.
McCrary is expected to head to Northwestern Mississippi Community College. The three remaining question marks — offensive lineman Dontae Angus, junior college defensive back Jaylon Myers and junior college offensive lineman Justin Scott — have until Aug. 22 to enroll.
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IT’S BEEN a few years since Vernon Davis, Jr., knew his football future. He’s changed schools and positions, but he’s situated now behind Kevin White as a backup Z receiver.
“I’m going out there to push Kevin every day right now,” he said. “I’m not worried about who’s going to have a bigger season. We’re teammates and we’re competing every day to make each other better.”
Davis was first-team Class 8A all-state as a cornerback at Miami’s Coral Reef High in 2011 and signed with and enrolled at the University of Miami in the 2012 recruiting class. Davis transferred to WVU before school started his freshman year and had to sit out, but the moves kept coming.
He worked with cornerbacks during his season on the sideline and was there again in his first spring with the Mountaineers. One day, he was fielding punts in practice and the catch and the first step gave coach Dana Holgorsen an idea. He decided to move Davis to inside receiver, and Davis caught five passes there and ran four times on sweep plays last season.
He stuck around for spring football, but spent the early part of preseason practice working with inside and outside receivers. Jordan Thompson’s consistent performance and Logan Moore’s emergence let WVU move the 5-10, 180-pound Davis outside, and he’s been a pleasant surprise since.
“Right now, I feel like I’m at home finally at outside receiver,” he said. “I think now it’s making me more focused on what I’m doing, more focused on my technique just knowing I’m there and I’m not going to change. I can keep building off something I’ve been working on the next day.”
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.