The Mountaineers will have plenty of fresh faces taking the field against William & Mary for the opening kickoff. More than likely it’ll take a few games for fans to get used to who is out on the field and what position they’re playing. There’s no doubt West Virginia will be playing plenty of junior college transfers and a few true freshman. In both cases, they were brought in to help the Mountaineers fill some major needs.
If WVU can find the right formula to mix in the transfers and true freshman with what already exists, there’s a chance this group could develop much more quality depth than last year’s squad. More depth would go a long way in helping the Mountaineers compete against their Big 12 brethren. Let’s take a look at ten newcomers who should have an impact on the team this season.
10. d’Vante Henry: He played two seasons for coach Tom Minnick at Arizona Western College and led the 2012 team in tackles with (55), solo tackles (23), and assisted tackles (32). Henry was one of WVU’s top defensive recruits coming in this year and was one of the top junior college players in the nation. At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, he should bring length and athleticism which WVU sorely needs on defense. He’s been working through some ‘personal problems’ during fall camp, which has caused him to be absent at practice, if he can find his way on to the field, Henry should be a breakout performer for the Mountaineers.
9. Dontrill Hyman: At 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, Hyman is a junior college transfer that was brought in to add depth along the defensive line. He has the physical tools to really make an impact this season and should have plenty of chances to crack the rotation. We’ll see as the season goes along how big of an impact he’ll actually make, but he’s a big body with some promise.
8. Ronald Carswell: A former University of Alabama player who played one season for coach Joe Williams at Itawamba Community College, Carswell will be a nice possession receiver that will gain some yards after the catch. He should get plenty of playing time this season and will still have two more years to play after this one, as he’ll be a sophomore this season. At 6-feet, 180 pounds, Carswell isn’t a big receiver, but he should bring a nice skill set to the Mountaineer offense.
7. Shelton Gibson: Probably the most highly decorated recruit head coach Dana Holgorsen hauled in this past recruiting year, Gibson has top notch speed and quickness. I’m looking for him to be out on the field early and often this season. He was a four-star recruit according to almost every recruiting service and should make an impact in his true freshman campaign. Gibson will also be dangerous on kick-off returns and I’m sure Mountaineer nation is really looking forward to what he’ll bring to the table.
6. Mario Alford: Another junior college transfer, Alford will bring his big play ability to the WVU offense. I’m looking for him to be the guy that takes the ‘touch pass’ from the quarterback and is able to turn the corner quickly. Alford will be used on kick-returns and probably punts as well. He’s arguably the fastest player on the team and I look for him to really break out this year.
5. Brandon Golson: The list of junior college players rolls on with Golson. He played two seasons for coach Bert Williams at Georgia Military College and originally signed with South Carolina, but things didn’t work out. WVU snatched him away from Arizona on signing day and it should pay dividends for the Mountaineers this fall. He’ll add speed and athleticism, which WVU really needs. 247 sports ranked him as the fourth best junior college linebacker in the nation. Once he gets comfortable with WVU’s defensive schemes, he should really blossom into a fine linebacker.
4. Dreamius Smith: A highly touted junior college running back, Smith will give WVU a power running game. He’s a strong runner that will have this year and next to play. Smith should be a nice compliment to Charles Sims in the crowded Mountaineer backfield. He played in the spring game and looked solid. I expect him to add good depth and should be very productive with his touches this season.
3. Kevin White: A big, tall, solidly built player, White should give the Mountaineers a physical down field threat this year. He can also catch short passes and is quite elusive after the catch. White comes to West Virginia by way of Lackawanna College. He looked great in the spring game and I expect him to be one of main targets for whoever is playing quarterback this year. White will have this year and next to finish his career, it’s not likely he’ll need a redshirt unless an injury occurs.
2. Clint Trickett: There’s been much speculation about the quarterback position coming out of camp, but it looks like Trickett will get the first chance to claim the job. He has the most experience after transferring over from Florida State, and I expect him to be taking snaps with the first team until he proves otherwise. I like what he brings to the table with his intelligence and pocket presence, we’ll see if he can prove himself come opening kick, Mountaineer nation is waiting.
1. Charles Sims: A transfer from the University of Houston, Sims is a big time every down running back that will bring power and speed. He was voted by the media as the Big 12 preseason newcomer of the year. Last season he ran for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns at Houston. He can catch passes out of the backfield and should really provide some versatility to the offense. Sims seems to be the complete package and is a very intelligent ball player. He’s already familiar with head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense and should benefit from already knowing the system at Houston. If Sims gets enough carries, expect him to break the one-thousand yard mark this season.
Some other newcomers to look out for are offensive linemen Tyler Tezeno and Marcell Lazard. Freshman receiver Daikiel Shorts has really impressed the coaches this fall and I expect him to be a pleasant surprise. Linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton is a big time prospect that could see the field early. In the secondary, look for Brandon Napoleon, Malik Greaves, and Jeremy Tyler to break through. The coaching staff is very high on cornerback Daryl Worley as well. Vernon Davis could play on both sides of the ball, in the secondary or at receiver, he’ll most likely return some kicks.
The fact is, I could sit here all day and rattle off new names that’ll impact the team in some form or fashion, let’s just hope the impacts are positive rather than negative.