Have a look, because there are some noteworthy changes especially on the left side of the line. I sort of buried this in the aforementioned story on receivers, but coaches and teammates have been solidly in favor of Vernon Davis and Devonte Mathis. They’re the backups at the outside spots now.
“Vernon, to me, really in the last half of camp, started to show up more,” Scott said. “I think Coach Galloway would probably say this, but it was a lot more based on his technique and getting off press coverage and getting releases and doing little things. You can tell looking at Devonte he’s another big physical kid, but I think his speed is kind of underrated. They’re both good players who can help us out there.”
The big, big deal is on the left side. We hadn’t heard Amanii Brown’s name basically since signing day 2014. Grant Lingafelter had been a guard — and specifically a right guard — for a while here. He was a very good left tackle in his prep days, and there were thoughts that maybe he was built to play outside here, as well. Time will tell on that one. But that’s two big changes on a side that has a new tackle and a new guard starting.
Here’s what I find interesting. The staff really likes Tony Matteo, who is probably the backup right and left guard. Tyler Orosky is super important, so I’m not sure how much Stone Underwood plays. Brown and Lazard are redshirt freshmen who have never played. Sure, Brown might be a seat-filler on this two-deep, and Matteo may be the No. 2 at both spots (Bosch and Pankey can play either guard spot, too), but who’s the third tackle? Lingafelter? Lazard? If WVU is going to flex its depth, there are bound to be some green moments outside. And, man, Marquis Lucas, who has generated multiple positive reports, has to hold up. Has to.
As for receiver, Gibson and Durante swapping sides is negligible, except that Gibson had always been the X. I’m not sure I put a ton of stock onto where Davis and Mathis are, despite what I’ve said and others have told me. It’s a starting point, and I’d have to think Lonnie Galloway would like to use all six if he can. I think Daikiel Shorts and even Wendell Smallwood will factor in at wide receiver, too, and that takes away from how much the reserves play.
Larry Jefferson vanished at defensive end, but he’s a third-down specialist, so that’s not really shocking or even telling there. Teammates really like Jon Lewis, a walk-on from Morgantown’s University High, as well. Another walk-on, Morgantown High’s Shane Commodore, remains the listed backup free safety, but that’s Jeremy Tyler in a pinch.
K.J. Dillon made it from start to finish as the punt returner, and I’m so excited. I don’t think he’ll have exclusive control over that, because the snaps on defense will accumulate and he’ll need a break or Mark Scott will want a fresh body back there. The replacement then is not Durante, like we thought, but rather Jennings. I think that says two things: Durante is going to play a lot of offense and Jennings isn’t just a big body.