MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–The fourth day of fall camp is in the books at West Virginia University and head coach Dana Holgorsen met with the media Thursday afternoon to brief them on the happenings.
The big news of the afternoon was when Holgorsen announced that 4-star wide receiver Jovon Durante had been cleared to practice by the NCAA.
“Jovon will be here today,” Holgorsen said.
The Mountaineers’ coach also broke down the responsibilities of his graduate assistant Michael Burchett. The 23-year-old seems to be Holgorsen’s right hand man.
Burchett is the man working with the quarterbacks, a position Holgorsen never filled after Shannon Dawson left for Kentucky.
“He is a bright young guy, and he’ll be leading the quarterback drills,” Holgorsen said.
“His role is basically the same as what Shannon (Dawson) and Jake (Spavital) used to do. He is filling it wonderfully. He is doing a great job. I couldn’t do it without him. There is no way I could wear three hats without him.”
Holgorsen then tackled playing freshman Yodny Cajuste at left tackle. Typically he doesn’t start many true freshman, let alone on the blindside.
“I haven’t played very many of them,” he said. ” I only had one true freshman that played for me in the 17 years that I’ve coached. Tyler Orlosky was a redshirt freshman. ”
““Yodny’s way more advanced. First day in pads yesterday, he got exposed a little bit, which is common.”
If Cajuste struggles, Holgorsen said that moving junior offensive lineman Adam Pankey to tackle is an option.
Last season the punt return was often disastrous for the Mountaineers. So far that has been a big focus of Holgorsen’s staff.
“There’s five of them right now that I am focusing on,” Holgorsen said. “(Redshirt junior wide receiver) Vernon Davis Jr, (redshirt freshman wide receiver) Lamar Parker, (senior safety) KJ Dillon, (redshirt freshman quarterback) William Crest Jr. and (freshman wide receiver) Gary Jennings are the five that I am focusing on. All five of those guys will catch about 35 punts a day.”
“We are going to chart it and coach it. We are going to make it more challenging for them and make the best decision that we possibly can.”
Holgorsen briefly touched on leaving financial discussion to the financial aid department. Things change on a yearly basis and every school has different costs.
He also mentioned that redshirt freshman wide receivers Lamar Parker and Ricky Rogers are not ready to play. Redshirt Jacky Marcellus is doing a good job at running back and improving in the slot.
“Coach (Jared) Barber” is one of this season’s leaders and very important to the team. Holgorsen says he is a senior with a year on the sidelines under his belt after missing all of last season.
“He’s an old man,” Holgorsen said of Barber. “He got sore halfway through practice yesterday and he took the rest of the day off. With those old guys, you’ve got to give them some time to recuperate.”
Terrell Chestnut is another important leader on and off the field.
“He’s one of our best leaders that we have,” Holgorsen said. “He’s maybe the best coach on the field for Shelton Gibson. He goes against him every day, and he tells him what he did right and tells him what he did wrong. That’s just experience that you can’t replace.”
The afternoon ended with Holgorsen joking about Ron Crook’s love for peanut butter and how his coaching staff fares at golf.
Later in the afternoon at practice, Durante made his debut. The flashy wide receiver was one of the fastest on the field.
Crest spent the afternoon working out with the quarterbacks only.
KJ Dillon, Gary Jennings, Davis, Wendell Smallwood, Rushel Shell, Ka’Raun White, Parker, Shelton Gibson, Marcellus and Durante all took turns at fielding punts.
The media was allowed to watch some 11-on-11 action after the half hour of open practice. Skyler Howard started at quarterback and Crest took reps with the second team.