by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University Football Team finished up drills an cancelled the Gold-Blue game scheduled for April 7. As you well know, winter has been hanging on for dear life around here this year and with snow forecasted for much of West Virginia that weekend the game was scratched. With that game gone, so goes the only real chance for fans to see for themselves what has developed with the team during the off season. Still, if we’re being honest, head coach Dana Holgorsen and his staff typically don’t show much of the playbook during the Gold-Blue game and many of the key players fans want to see most, play very little.
Factor in Holgorsen’s philosophy of restring media access to practices and we have a very limited amount of information. It’s basically information the coaches want for public consumption without the information they don’t want us to have. Keep that in mind when reading the following tidbits.
One thing we do know is nose guard Lamonte McDougle, named as a freshman All American on some lists last season, has left the team. In the wake of McDougle’s departure comes word that Fairmont’s Darius Stills has stepped up and filled in nicely at nose guard. Stills’ is 6-3, 280 which is a lot different that the uniquely proportioned McDougle who was listed at 5-10, 280. Sophomore Darius probably won’t be the only Stills to see action on the defensive front as his younger brother Dante, who was recruited nationally, is expected to see action as a true freshman. The Stills brothers are the sons of former WVU and Kansas City Chiefs standout Gary Stills.
West Virginia’s defense seems to be a work in progress on a yearly basis now and this season looks to be more of the same. Having just mentioned that two fresh faces will be counted on to perform on the defensive front, WVU reached into the junior college ranks for help in the secondary. One of the JUCO players to open eyes this spring is safety Josh Norwood, a former Ohio State Buckeye who comes to WVU via Northwest Mississippi CC. The sheer physicality of the 5-11, 185 Norwood opened eyes in the spring.
Former Michigan signee Keith Washington impressed this spring with his physical coverage skills as a cornerback. The lanky Washington, 6-2,180, also came to Morgantown from a Mississippi junior college.
On offense the Mountaineers look pretty strong on paper, but a couple new names at skill positions emerged during spring practice. Alabama wide receiver transfer T.J. Simmons sat out last season and watched quarterback Will Grier help receivers David Sills, Gary Jennings, Ka’Raun White and Marcus Simms pile up impressive receiving stats. White is the only one of those receivers not returning and the 6-2, 200 Simmons figures to fill that spot.
Running back Justin Crawford was considered the number one running back last year, but split time with Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway. Crawford is gone, but redshirt freshman Alec Sinkfield has emerged as a threat to be on equal footing with Pettaway and McKoy. Smallish at 5-9, 185, Sinkfield impressed with his all around skill set of sharp cuts, receiving and speed.