WVU Has New Faces At Wideout
Jennings, Sills still to return for Mountaineers
MORGANTOWN — When this spring’s ‘Ever Lasting Winter’ forced West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen to cancel the annual Gold-Blue Scrimmage, It not only denied thousands of fans an opportunity to see their favorite players, but also a number of new faces that are expected to make in impact when the Mountaineers open the season against the SEC’s University of Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 1 in Charlotte. N.C.
Several of those are expected to improve a passing attack which lost senior Ka’Raun White to graduation, but returns seniors-to-be Gary Jennings Jr. and David Sills V.
“I am,” explained second year offensive coordinator Jake Spavital when asked if he was happy with his upcoming receiving corps. “Still need some depth.
“Will (Grier) is pretty comfortable if they have to come in and give some of these guys a break then he feels comfortable going to them. Still, we have four more receivers coming in in June, so that competition is going to keep increasing every day.”
White, who finished second on the team with 61 catches for 1,004 yards (16.5 ypc) and 12 touchdowns, is off to the NFL Draft later this month while Sills V, who earned All-American status last season, returns after latching onto 60 passes for 980 yards and a nation’s best 18 touchdown receptions.
As for Jennings, all he did was lead the team in receptions (97) and yards (1,096). However, his production inside the red zone was less-than-hoped-for as Grier was only able to connect with him once for a touchdown.
“Very valuable,” Sills said. “Definitely every practice is very valuable, only getting 15 of them, well 14 this year. Only getting 14 this year, you want to take every time you get out there as a chance to get better.
“We did that this year, everybody came to practice, ready to practice, ready to play with a good energy throughout the whole practice. We felt good about our spring ball, felt like we got a lot done and we feel good going into summer and into fall camp.”
A name which kept cropping up during the summer was that of University of Alabama transfer T.J. Simmons.
“Yeah, he understands it,” assistant coach Tyron Carrier said. “He was in the meeting rooms a little bit last year, so he picked up on a lot of stuff. During this time, we are doing an install, so it is like a re-teaching of everything, so he has caught on and is up to speed with everything.”
Simmons, who sat out last season to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements, saw action in all 12 games as a freshman for the Crimson Tide — mostly on special teams ‚ but hauled in 47 passes for 1,228 yards and 20 touchdowns during his senior season at Clay-Chalkville High School in Pinson, Ala.
Two other names which drew the attention of Carrier were sophomore Reggie Roberson Jr. and senior Dominque Maiden. Both saw action in 2017 but have added to their game over the spring and could become a more vital part of the air attack.
“Yeah, especially Reggie and Dom are probably the most improved this spring,” Carrier said. “They rarely make mistakes right now, Reggie looked faster than what he looked before. A lot of that had to do with Reggie having young legs, and Dom being new to this atmosphere. But, I am very pleased with those two guys as of right now.”
Reporting in June will be Bryce Wheaton (6-5, 207, Holly Springs High School, Fuquay-Varina, N.C.), Dillon Spalding (6-2, 220, South County High School, Lorton, Va.), Randy Fields Jr. (6-3, 192, St. Frances Academy, Elkton, Md.) and Sam Jones (6-0, 171, Richmond Hill High School, Richmond Hill, Ga.).