New faces at WVU

Now that we have had time to digest West Virginia University’s recent football recruits, let’s see if WVU?was able to fill the needs created by the loss of 22 seniors and junior Stedman Bailey.

We’ll start with special teams since former Parkersburg South standout Michael Molinari will be among those looking to fill the vacancies left by Tyler Bitancurt and Corey Smith.

Spring drills should witness a two-way battle between Molinari and redshirt freshman Josh Lambert. If neither impresses, look for JC punter Nick O’Toole, who averaged 41.8 yards per punt last fall.

Up front on defense, Will Clarke, Kyle Rose, Eric Kinsey, Shaq Rowell, Christian Brown and Korey Harris are back and should be improved with a year of experience under their belts. The additions of Marvin Gross and Dontrill Hyman will help, but players from last year’s unit may be asked to change positions over the summer.

It would not be surprising if Isaiah Bruce, Doug Rigg and Tyler Anderson were moved to defensive front. Especially given the strength of the linebackers in this recruiting class.

Hodari Christian already is on campus and, word is, junior college recruits d’Vante Henry and Brandon Golson could find themselves in the Mountaineers’ three-deep before the end of the summer.

Adding even more depth to arguably the team’s biggest weakness last season will be true freshmen Al-Rasheed Benton and Darrien Howard.

The secondary, which returns standout freshman Karl Joseph, also got some help with the signing of safeties Malik Greaves, Isaac McDonald, Jeremy Tyler and Daryl Worley.

Offensively, the loss of the team’s five biggest playmakers – Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Bailey, Shawne Alston and J.D. Woods – is cause for concern.

Up front, the Mountaineers lost three solid performers in former Big Red Josh Jenkins, Joe Madsen and Jeff Braun, but returns a good nucleus.

Quinton Spain, Curtis Feigt and Pat Eger have plenty of starting experience and backups Nick Kindler and Russell Haughton-James also could start.

Then, there are recruits Marcell Lazard, Grant Lingafelter, Tyler Tezeno and Stone Underwood.

Underwood, an All-Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges first team selection, appears the most game-ready of the group while redshirt freshmen Tony Matteo, Tyler Orlosky, and Adam Pankey look like they could be in the mix for playing time this fall.

The positions hit worst are receiver and quarterback.

Quarterbacks Paul Millard, Ford Childress and Chavas Rawlins should make it an interesting spring while having Kevin White and Daikiel Shorts on the roster should help revitalize a gutted receiving corps. More help should be on the way with the signing of Shelton Gibson, Mario Alford, and Ronald Carswell and the expected position move of Dustin Garrison from running back to slot back, a move made possible by the signings of Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood – already enrolled and in class.

For now, all we can do is speculate. The answers will come later.