Our friends over at WVIllustrated reported today that Head Coach Dana Holgorsen has released an updated Spring Depth Chart. The new chart includes some minor changes, including the listing of no fewer than THREE true freshmen cracking the two-deep (and a fourth, Ford Childress, battling for the backup quarterback spot), and six other redshirt freshmen featuring prominently throughout. Keep in mind, the chart reflects only the current state of affairs within the context of spring football. Issues such as injuries, testing players at new spots, and trying to generate competition and develop depth at certain positions are all coming into play here. Oh, and there's the small matter of 25 new players arriving in time for fall camp. We should definitely take this with a grain of salt, but I still think there are a few interesting developments:
- After Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, and JD Woods (okay, and maybe Ivan McCartney, who is battling hamstring issues), WVU is dangerously young and thin at wide receiver. Yes, Ryan Nehlen is listed as a starter, and he's a redshirt senior. He will play some, but after him, you have a bunch of guys who have never seen the field in college. Given the amount of reps wide receivers take in Holgorsen's offense, that could be an issue. To be sure, there is talent. KJ Myers and Dante Campbell have the bodies to turn into excellent deep threats. Cody Clay is moving back to the pass-catching role he excelled at in high school after spending last year as an offensive lineman. And true freshman Jordan Thompson has impressed so far in spring ball. Plus, there is a glut of talent on its way this summer. Those new players (Travares Copeland, Devonte Mathis, Will Johnson, Darreall Joyner, Devonte Robinson and Deontay McManus) will all get a chance to step up and contribute. However, they are unproven. And that's the problem. Let's just hope nothing horrible happens to any of the starters, mmmkay?
- Imarjaye Albury moved ahead of Shaq Rowell into the primary backup spot at nose tackle. Again, who knows whether the move is just something to motivate Rowell at this point or whether Albury is actually performing at that high a level, but you have to be encouraged. Rowell actually played a decent amount last year, and did fairly well at times, so he's not exactly a pushover. And defensive line seems to always present a depth concern for the Mountaineers, so the emergence of Albury at this point in his career is definitely a positive. Also note Tyler Anderson's spot as starting defensive end. A bit undersized right now at 6'2, 244 lbs, Anderson could grow into a solid defender after moving down from linebacker this winter. The fact that he is picking up the required technique to play with his hand on the ground is yet another boon for an undersized defensive front.
- Karl Joseph cracked the two deep at safety. Let me say that a different way---a true freshman is slotted to earn significant playing time in what has traditionally been one of WVU's deepest and most talented positions. The last guy who did that was Robert Sands, and I think he turned out okay. I'm not saying that Joseph is necessarily going to be a pro one day, but you have to like where his career is headed if he is pushing veterans like Darwin Cook for playing time. On the other hand, the corner spot is in need of reinforcements. With Pat Miller's injury, Avery Williams, Terrell Chestnut and Brodrick Jenkins are the only scholarship corners on the field right now. Yes, Williams and Chestnut are young and talented, but when Miller and Jenkins graduate, WVU will need quality depth to push them. Nana Kyeremeh and Brandon Napoleon need to get here and get up to speed soon.
I'm sure there are other changes to the depth chart that I may have overlooked or underestimated. What significant developments did you see? Are there other areas of concern? What about positive surprises? Leave your thoughts in the comments.