WVU must develop depth now

It would appear several more members of WVU’s football recruiting class are now enrolled at the university and soon will be participating in meetings and ‘player driven’ practices.

Offensive linemen Yodny Cajuste and Walter Rauterkus, quarterback William Crest, defensive end Jaleel Fields, cornerback Dravon Henry, defensive lineman Tyree Owens, wide receiver Lamar Parker, and linebacker Xavier Preston have enrolled for the first summer session joining January enrollees Skylar Howard (quarterback), Davonte James (linebacker), Edward Muldrow (linebacker), Keishawn Richardson (cornerback), Ricky Rogers (wide receiver) and Sylvester Townes (offensive tackle) as members of the old gold and blue.

Morgantown native Amanii Brown also is expected to be in class soon, leaving only offensive linemen Dontae Angus and Justin Scott, safety Daejuan Funderburk, cornerback Jaylon Myers, and running back Donte Thomas-Williams as ‘players in waiting’.

The addition of those eight as well as the enrollment of University of Pittsburgh transfer Cullen Christian (cornerback) should go a long way in head coach Dana Holgorsen and his staff finding the depth that they so complained about having a lack of over the past two seasons.

With the Alabama opener inching itself closer and closer, depth is going to be a key factor. Rarely do you have teams physically prepared to play 60 minutes at the season’s start. That will be the case when the Mountaineers and the Crimson Tide meet for the first time in the Chick-fil-A Football Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Both teams will play with a lot of emotion. That’s expected in any season opener.

But, no amount of preseason practice prepares an athlete for the actual game. That means that teams will have to go to their backups from time to time in order to allowing their starters to refresh themselves and be physically prepared for the final quarter of action.

The early enrollments also mean that players will have more time to develop a chemistry that they will need to possess when the season opens. And, several of these incoming players could find themselves playing quite a bit.

One in particular is Henry.

A four-year star defensive back at Aliquppa High School, Henry earned a spot on the 2013 All-USA Today all-state football first team as a running back and was selected as the 2014 Pittsburgh Athletic Association Mercury Award recipient which honors the top high school football player in western Pennsylvania.

He joins a unit that was one of the worst in the Big 12, surrendering 455 yards (No. 9), 263.3 passing yards (No. 10) and 33.3 points per game (No. 9).

The addition of Fields and Owens only can help the defensive front while Preston will have his work cut out for him when the Florida native looks to break into a linebacking corps that is listed by many as the Mountaineers’ biggest strength in 2014.

Hopefully, more good news will be coming out of Morgantown soon.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com