Chip Shots – Week 1

Week 1

by Jim Buzzerd

Week one of the West Virginia University’s fall football camp is in the books. As usual, media access to practice sessions is limited, so the following tidbits will also be limited. This coming Thursday will be the first full scale scrimmage and it will determine where many of the players are on the depth chart. That session will be closed to the media, so it might take a few days for anything solid to hit the wind.

If you’re like me, you probably want to know what the quarterback competition looks like. Most folks figured when JT Daniels transferred in from Georgia this summer that he would be the starter. Daniels will likely be the starter on September 1 against Pitt, but head coach Neal Brown said prior to camp that there would be a legitimate competition for the number one quarterback job. Coachspeak? Probably.

Saturday Brown commented on the quarterbacks. “You get to know him [Daniels] pretty good because that wasn’t just a quick kind of recruitment. Graham [Harrell] obviously knew him better than I did. But he is mature. He is older. I would say weathered, meaning he has been through some real highs and he has been through some real lows. His approach is that of a veteran,” Brown said.

“He has been great in the meeting room. Especially he and Nicco [Marchiol], they have gotten really close. I think that’s a huge positive for Nicco, especially over the summer.”

The pecking order behind Daniels hasn’t been established with three young signal callers vying for the backup spot.

“I thought Nicco threw the ball his best through the five practices. He is growing. The game is starting to slow down. He has a better understanding of some defensive structure. He is more comfortable in the plays than he was in the spring, which is to be expected. He worked hard over the summer.

“Goose [Crowder] has been solid. He missed the first day, but he has been out there the last four. He definitely has some growth.

“JT has more experience than all of them. Garrett Greene had a great two-minute drive today to finish practice.”

For what it’s worth, the preseason depth chart lists Greene, or Crowder, or Marchiol, or Daniels. I would guess there will be some clarity following Thursday’s scrimmage. Or Brown could extend the battle further into August.

There have been some names pop up as pleasant surprises in the first week of camp, but the one that intrigues me the most so far is CJ Donaldson a 6-2, 240 freshman from Miami. Donaldson was recruited as a tight end, but has been moved to the backfield. Running backs coach Chad Scott said “we found a gem” referring to Donaldson. Word is he already has great ball skills, open field shiftiness and explosion. Brown has already said Donaldson will play this season.

It will be interesting to see where Donaldson fits the best, but expect to see him line up in the backfield, slot and tight end.