WVU notebook: Blocking skill will determine Smith’s backfield workload

Dreamius Smith heads up the field with the ball in a recent workout.

MORGANTOWN — Dreamius Smith is West Virginia’s leading returning rusher. He was also listed No. 1 on the team’s depth chart heading into preseason camp.

But his position is anything but safe, and that’s not just because Rushel Shell, Wendell Smallwood, Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie are pushing him.

It goes back to the biggest flaw in Smith’s game a year ago — blocking.

“He doesn’t have a choice. He knows if he doesn’t, then he won’t play. It’s that simple,’’ running backs coach JaJuan Seider said of Smith improving his blocking skills. “You don’t have to motivate a guy to do what they’re supposed to do. To me, that’s doing your job of being a running back. You can’t just be a guy who runs the ball.

“We’ve been blunt and upfront with him. He worked hard during spring. He did a really good job in the spring and the summer to now. It’s universal through the room. The smallest guy might be our best blocker sometimes. I think Dustin and Buie do a great job. They’re tough and experiences and they’re vet guys.’’

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The saga of Jacob McCrary took yet another twist Wednesday.

The wide receiver from Miami, who signed with West Virginia but didn’t qualify academically, now says he intends to go to junior college and eventually transfer from there to WVU.

A day earlier McCrary had said, via Twitter, that he would not be attending WVU. He then told several websites that he intended instead to go to Marshall, which can take non-qualifiers that WVU can’t.

But then on Wednesday came this, again on Twitter: “Decided not to go to Marshall and go to junior college ... My heart belongs to West V ... And that where I want to be #AlmostHeaven #WVU”

McCrary is expected to attend a junior college in Mississippi. He would have to graduate from there in order to then transfer to any Division I school.

When McCrary lands at a juco, however, it will be the fifth school that he has either pledged to or attended. He committed to Florida State in 2012 and Clemson in 2013, signed with West Virginia in 2014, said he would attend Marshall this week and now a junior college.

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Speaking of sagas, then there’s the one coach Dana Holgorsen found himself a part of this week.

On Monday, during one of his media briefings during camp, Holgorsen was asked about eventual changes to recruiting tactics given the shifting landscape of NCAA rules, primarily where unlimited meals are concerned, but also in what is expected to eventually be a stipend to cover the full cost of attendance.

In his response, he joked that “You lie in recruiting a bunch. That’s just kind of part of it. You become a salesman.’’

Holgorsen went a step further to explain himself immediately, saying that one of the things he and his staff encourage recruits to do is talk to the current players about what life is really like in the program so that no matter what a coach says, the recruits are getting the full story.

After the “lie in recruiting’’ snippet went viral, however, Holgorsen issued a statement Wednesday.

“At my press conference on Monday, I was speaking with a group of our beat reporters and the subject of the NCAA legislation concerning unlimited meals and its impact on recruiting was brought up,’’ Holgorsen said. “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. 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. I used a poor choice of words in explaining this position.”

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

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