By Travis Stone
Before the 2015 season gets underway, the Mountaineers will be faced with a task that is becoming a trend at WVU; replacing an All-American wide receiver. They will enter the season having lost their top two wide receivers from last year, Kevin White and Mario Alford.
WVU was faced with a similar task after the departure of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey in 2013, and while that transition didn’t work out immediately, there is reason for hope that this time around it will be a much smoother one.
The returning receiver that will likely see the biggest increase in playing time is Daikiel Shorts. Shorts spent much of this season as the slot option for the Mountaineers and has an opportunity to move into the starting lineup this season. After Skylar Howard was shifted into the starting quarterback role, Shorts developed an instant chemistry with him.
That could mean a big season is in store for Shorts. He is coming off a season in which he had 24 receptions for 346 yards and 2 touchdowns, but during the previous transition from Austin and Bailey the 6’1″ 200 lb receiver had 45 receptions for 495 yards.
Jordan Thompson is the second returning receiver that should see his playing time increase but may be limited to the slot position. At 5’7″ 175 lbs. Thompson is the perfect compliment to Shorts in the slot due to his shiftiness and speed. Thompson is coming off a season in which he compiled 49 catches for 598 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Shelton Gibson is the name that Mountaineer fans have been waiting to bust out and his opportunity may come this season. Gibson came to Morgantown as a highly regarded 5’11” 188 lb wide receiver from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, but was forced to redshirt his freshman season due to a knee injury. This past season saw Gibson have some growing pains but he also gave Mountaineer fans a few flashes of potential. Gibson projects as the other starter opposite Daikiel Shorts.
The wildcard name to watch out for this season is 5’8″ 170 lb redshirt freshman wide receiver Lamar Parker. Not much is known about the talented speedster from Florida, but from those that have seen him practice have the same reaction; he’s going to be a special talent for the Mountaineers. Parker has the speed that has people putting him in the same sentence as Tavon Austin, as well as the elusiveness to make people miss in open space.
The Mountaineers will enter the 2015 season with big shoes to fill at the wide receiver position, but with the talent that is waiting in the wings here is hope in Morgantown that 2015 will be a very special season.
Feature photo by USA Today
Edited by Michael Walker