2017-06-28 / Sports

Chip Shots

Football and basketball items
by Jim Buzzerd

Last week this space included information on quarterback Jack Allison transferring from Miami to West Virginia University. Mention was also made of how head coach Dana Holgorsen is building a reputation for having success with quarterback transfers. He did well with transfers Clint Trickett and Skyler Howard who came to WVU as unheralded prospects who ended up with pretty good stat lines when they finished their careers in Morgantown.

Now it appears that Holgorsen is raising the bar with quarterbacks transferring in with higher profiles. Florida transfer Will Grier was officially cleared by the NCAA last week and will be fully eligible on September 3 when the Mountaineers take on Virginia Tech at FedEx Field.

Grier left Florida in 2015 after failing a drug test and receiving a yearlong suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Grier claims it was an honest mistake and the positive test was the result of him taking an over the counter supplement which contained the banned substance. This happens from time to time, but the onus is on the athlete and his training staff to make sure they are taking the correct supplements. This mistake cost Grier a year, but WVU stands to benefit greatly if Grier lives up to anywhere near the hype that has preceded him.

Last weekend two more high profile types announced they would be transferring to WVU. T.J. Simmons a 6-2, 202 wide receiver from Alabama will be in Morgantown this fall, but will have to sit out the 2017 season and will have three years to play three seasons. Simmons was a Top 50 rated receiver as a senior in high school and played in 12 Alabama games last fall as a true freshman, albeit mostly on special teams. Simmons caught six passes for 92 yards in the Bama spring game which put him fifth on the depth chart. Not a starter, but the first man in the second rotation.

It appears that Simmons sees more playing time at WVU instead of battling for playing time against a bevy of four and five star receivers that Alabama recruits at will. Joining Simmons in Morgantown this summer will be 6-4, 245 tight end Jovani Haskins a Bergenfield, NJ native who is leaving Miami to become a Mountaineer. Haskins will also have to sit out 2017, but will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. Coming out of high school Haskins was rated as high as the 19th best tight end prospect by 247sports.

Haskins was also extremely versatile at Bergenfield picking up all conference and New Jersey honors as a defensive lineman and punter. He rushed for 1,759 career yards, completed 100-166 passes for 1,875 yards and 20 touchdowns, and for good measure, he was 38 of 42 on extra point attempts. Not typical stats for a highly ranked tight end. Sounds like Haskins didn’t line up at tight end that often, but was identified as an athletic tight end prospect at the next level.

This is old news, and I don’t think it has been mentioned here, but Elijah Macon has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and pursue professional playing options. With the graduation of Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins, the loss of Macon hurts what should be a strong Mountaineer team next season. Macon was just finding his rhythm as a Mountaineer and he was moving toward a potentially great final season. Macon has his degree and will be 24 next year, so his decision isn’t too surprising.

Macon’s departure does mean that Sagaba Konate will need to really elevate his game. Konate showed great potential last season as a freshman, but he will need to learn how to stay out of foul trouble. Poland native Maciej Bender will certainly have the opportunity to help along the frontline after a so so freshman campaign. The biggest help to the front line would be 6-10 four star commit Derek Culver getting his test score and becoming eligible. The result of the final ACT test score should be known soon.

Depending on how things go, the thin front line could create an opportunity for Logan Routt, the 6-10 sophomore walk-on from Cameron. In limited playing time Routt has looked like an intriguing prospect, at least to this observer. I’m not making any predictions, but Routt has more game at this point than many would have expected when he arrived on campus.

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