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2017 West Virginia Mountaineers Position Overview: Wide Receivers

The Mountaineers lost two players to the NFL Draft and will need to a host of talented but mostly unproven players to step up.

Youngstown State v West Virginia Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Mountaineers have put a lot of talent on the field that has gone on to the NFL. None more than wide receiver, where West Virginia has put 6 different players into the NFL since joining the Big 12. Now the Mountaineers will once again face the challenge of trying to replace their biggest producers with unknown (to the national media anyway) talent.

2016 Exodus

Shelton Gibson was a walking highlight. He came to West Virginia as a 4-star with speed to burn and burn he did. Gibson, in his two years as a starter, averaged over 20 yards per catch. When Skyler Howard threw the ball to Gibson, it was deep.

Daikiel Shorts was the opposite. He was a chain mover. When the Mountaineers needed a first down, Skyler often looked to Shorts. He could make the tough catch over the middle or the sure handed catch along the sideline.

2017 West Virginia Tight Ends

Player Year 2016 Stats
Player Year 2016 Stats
Jovani Haskins R-Fr Redshirted (Miami)
Mac Christy Fr DNP (High School)
Joseph Turner Fr DNP (High School)
Matt Bezjak R-Fr Redshirted
Trevon Wesco R-Jr 1 catch, 6 yards, 1 TD
Matt Vucelik R-So DNP
Rob Dowdy R-So DNP

Ka’Raun White

White is the player most poised to take advantage of advanced playing time and a new quarterback. White’s brother, Kevin, was a Biletnikoff finalist in his senior year at West Virginia, catching over 100 passes for 1,400+ yards and generating the Twitter hashtag #GAM [Grown Ass Man]. Ka’Raun possesses the same body type and at times the same hands and speed, but it hasn’t all come together like it did for Kevin in 2014. Ka’Raun has the size, speed and ability to be a #1 receiver

Jovon Durante

Jovon has been an enigma since joining the Mountaineers. He was part of a recruiting class that has been very productive for West Virginia, but Jovon himself hasn’t. He burst onto the scene with a long touchdown catch against Georgia Southern in 2015 and has been lost since. Through two seasons, he has generated only 59 catches for 709 yards and 7 touchdowns. Durante should be the first person to replace Gibson’s ability to take the top off a defense.

Gary Jennings

Gary Jennings was a late addition to the 2015 class but has developed nicely over the past two years. He saw the field late in 2015, catching a long touchdown in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl. Last year, he assumed the primary punt return duties. Jennings displayed determination and sure-handedness, but rarely generated actual yards in his returns. Jennings has the big body to go across the middle and move the chains, a la Daikiel Shorts. Jennings could be primed for a breakout season this year.

Marcus Simms

A small, speedy player from Baltimore, Maryland, where have the Mountaineers had a player like that before? Simms won’t replicate Tavon Austin, but should actually see the stat sheet more this year.

David Sills

It is amazing what can happen in college. Sills was originally offered a scholarship by USC when he was in 7th grade by then head coach Lane Kiffin. Sills committed to the Mountaineers as a quarterback before switching to receiver in 2015. He broke onto the scene with a touchdown grab at Baylor and caught the game winning touchdown in the Cactus Bowl. He then chose to transfer because he still believed he was a quarterback. He rejoined the team this year, fully committed to being a wide receiver.

Sills and quarterback Will Grier must have a connection because in the spring game, Sills caught 6 of Grier’s 12 completed passes. Grier consistently looked to Sills first. Currently listed as the starting Z receiver, Sills is primed for a true breakout in 2017.

William Crest

William Crest is a guy that has forced the coaches to draw up plays for him because he is so athletic. The coaches have tried trick plays, using his ability as a quarterback. They have tried end arounds and lining him up in the backfield. Crest might be one of the most athletically gifted players on the team. It wouldn’t surprise me if the team tried more trick plays. The bubble screen deep pass SHOULD have worked but for some reason the main receiver was still double covered.

Reggie Roberson

Our own Zach Campbell believes Roberson is primed for a breakout and could make an immediate impact. Roberson is a 6’3 guy who was a former track star. If Durante does not return to the team, Roberson could be the next guy in line to take over the burner duties. Perhaps we even get to see more of the touch pass jet sweep?