MORGANTOWN — With preseason camp winding down, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen seems to have come to a few decisions regarding those who will get playing time.
He’s also come to the conclusion that some won’t.
Among those are linebacker Jared Barber and offensive tackle Sylvester Townes.
Barber is still rehabilitating a repaired ACL and hasn’t practiced. Holgorsen said Thursday that he’s not counting on Barber at the start of the season and may have to write him off for the entire fall. Barber was the team’s third-leading tackler last season despite playing in just 10 of 12 games.
“Barber’s not going to be ready. It’s unfortunate,’’ Holgorsen said. “He’s such a good team leader. He’ll still have that role as a leader. He gets down there and coaches the heck out of the linebackers. He’s a great kid to have around.
“If he doesn’t get back to where he’s able to play this year, then a year from now he’s 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.’’
As for Townes, the junior college transfer was in the mix for one of the backup spots at tackle when camp started, but Holgorsen now says he intends to redshirt the 6-foot-5, 290-pound junior. He hopes a redshirt year will do for Townes what it did for two other juco linemen, Mark Glowinski and Stone Underwood.
Aside from Barber, though, the only other roster player definitely out is redshirt freshman Jacky Marcellus, who suffered a knee injury before camp and won’t play this season.
“Other than that there are some day-to-day guys. The list grows and shrinks every day based on the previous practice,’’ Holgorsen said. “But at this point in time those are the only two that have been strictly ruled out.’’
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While Barber and Townes are out of the mix, a few others have worked their way in. One of the most pleasant surprises to Holgorsen has been mammoth senior tackle Mike Calicchio.
“He’s just such a good story. This big giant of a man was awful five years ago when he showed up. He couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time,’’ Holgorsen said of the 6-9, 315-pound fifth-year senior. “He’s a hard worker on the field and off the field and he’s a great student. He’s one of our leaders on the entire team right now. When he talks, people listen.’’
Holgorsen just put Calicchio on scholarship, bringing the number to 83 (out of a possible 85). He will back up tackles Marquis Lucas and Adam Pankey.
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Mike Molinari is in a walking boot, the victim of a chest-bump gone bad, said Holgorsen.
“He won a bet, so he did a big chest bump and came down and twisted his ankle,’’ said Holgorsen, referring to all the specialists as “goof balls.’’ “At that point, we had to remind them that they have a job to do, but he’s going to be fine.’’
Molinari is the team’s holder for placements, as well as the backup punter and a contender (along with punter Nick O’Toole) for the kickoff job. Holgorsen said the injury wouldn’t prevent Molinari from limping out to hold, but even if it did O’Toole is more than competent as his backup there.
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Holgorsen began his Thursday press briefing with a smile on his face and sarcasm in his heart.
“OK, I’m all out of statements, so we’ll open it straight up to questions,’’ he said. “And we’ll let Mr. Nesbitt go first.’’
When Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obliged and started to ask a question, Holgorsen cut him off in mid-sentence.
“We’ll take the next question please,’’ he said.
The exchange dates to Holgorsen’s most recent briefing on Monday. He now rather infamously joked that day that he lies during recruiting. That got a laugh from the assembled media, who took it for the joke that it was. Nesbitt, who was not there but listened to the audio or saw the transcription, published the remarks and ignited a firestorm by those who chose to take him literally.
On Wednesday, Holgorsen issued a statement attempting to explain all of that (prompting his quip that he was all out of statements), but couldn’t resist the temptation to bring it all up again Thursday.
“I tell you, I really appreciate you guys that are here today,’’ Holgorsen said after quickly moving on. “I thought we had a pretty good one Monday and we’ll continue to try to build a great working relationship and try to get you as much information as possible.’’
He then went on with an opening statement and the briefing was business as usual, but without any recruiting-lies talk.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.