MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the second time in as many weeks, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen has given a walk-on a scholarship. Fifth-year senior Mike Calicchio was rewarded this week and is now the 83rd WVU player on scholarship.
The 6-foot-9, 335-pound Calicchio came to WVU in 2010 and left the following season for Division II C.W. Post. He returned to campus in 2012 and sat out and last season was a backup lineman and one of the three players who served as the shield in front of punters.
“Just such a good story for a big, giant of a man,” said Holgorsen, who gave junior college safety Dayron Wilson a scholarship earlier in preseason camp. “He was awful five years ago when he showed up. He couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. He works hard on the field and off the field. He’s a great student. He’s one of our leaders in the entire program. When he talks, people listen.”
With only two available scholarships, the Mountaineers won’t be able to admit all three players who signed in February and have yet to enroll. Junior college defensive back Jaylon Myers, junior college offensive lineman Justin Scott and freshman offensive lineman Dontae Angus can enroll on or before Aug. 22.
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WVU’s camp concludes with a fully padded, full-contact practice Friday and a scrimmage Saturday. The Mountaineers will then spend next week rehearsing a real game week. The players will have Monday off and practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and play a mock game Saturday, Aug. 23.
The Mountaineers are still waiting on a few players to get back on the field and to sort out position battles.
Will linebacker Brandon Golson (shoulder) is still about a week away from being cleared for full practices. He’s been replaced by senior Wes Tonkery. Junior Nick Kwiatkoski has missed the past few days and has been replaced by redshirt freshman Al-Rasheed Benton. He was a candidate for playing time right up until the start of last season.
“He’s a great football player, and we thought that when we recruited him,” WVU defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Tony Gibson said. “He came in last year a little overweight and out of shape, so we didn’t use him, and I’m glad we didn’t. He redshirted and got his body different. He’s really coming on.”
Holgorsen also said WVU is looking for a cornerback opposite sophomore Daryl Worley. Golson and Kwiatkoski will be back and coaches will have to determine who plays when and where among a pool of players.
“What that rotation is going to be there, I don’t think we know that yet,” Holgorsen said. “The same thing is happening with the defensive line. We’ve got a good, solid two-deep on defense. We just don’t know who our starters are or what the rotation is going to be yet.”
Though Holgorsen said the situation is the similarly promising at running back, there are no real unknowns on offense. Who gets the most playing time will matter more than who starts at running back, but quarterback, offensive line and receiver is set.
Devonte Mathis is behind Mario Alford at one wide receiver spot and Vernon Davis is behind Kevin White at the other. Daikiel Shorts and Jordan Thompson are inside receivers.
The five offensive linemen — left tackle Adam Pankey, left guard Quinton Spain, center Tyler Orlosky, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Marquis Lucas — are established. Holgorsen said Calicchio can play guard and tackle, Stone Underwood can play center and guard and Tony Matteo is the backup center.
For now, senior Paul Millard is leading freshman William Crest to back up starting quarterback Clint Trickett.
“(Millard) is obviously the most game-ready,” Holgorsen said. “I haven’t made that decision for sure yet. William is a guy that is going to continue to rep and continue to get better. His ceiling is high. How far he can advance I don’t know yet, so he will continue to get reps as well.”
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HOLGORSEN SAID LINEBACKER Jared Barber, who tore the ACL in his right knee against Texas last season, won’t be ready for the start of the season and will miss the opener against Alabama. Barber has a redshirt season to use and Holgorsen said it will be considered.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “He is such a good team leader. He will still have that role as a leader. He gets down there and coaches the heck out of the linebackers. He is a great kid to have around. If he doesn’t get back to where he is able to play this year than a year from now he is going to be excited about being a fifth-year senior and being able to graduate with 25 of the guys that he came in with. If he can’t go, then he won’t.”
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THE KICKOFF AND HOLDER positions were jeopardized in most unusual fashion the other day when Michael Molinari injured an ankle so badly that he’s now in a walking boot.
“He won a bet, so he did a big chest bump and came down and twisted his ankle,” Holgorsen said.
Holgorsen said Molinari will be fine, but for now punter Nick O’Toole is the backup holder and kickoff specialist. Holgorsen wants Molinari to handle kickoffs so O’Toole can focus on punts. Holgorsen said O’Toole might be a better holder, but Molinari has more experience.
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.