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We have the first batch of position changes for WVU since the start of preseason camp.
Junior Dante Bonamico, a former standout at Bridgeport High, is switching from free safety to the “spear” position in first-year coordinator Vic Koenning’s new defensive scheme for the Mountaineers. The spear typically is kind of a mix between a safety and a linebacker as far as positioning and responsibilities on the field. Prior to the switch, Bonamico had been sharing first-team repetitions with junior Jake Long, now he will be competing for playing time with senior JoVanni Stewart and redshirt freshman Kwantel Raines at spear.
Bonamico wasn’t the only one on the move, however. Freshman Tykee Smith, who was one of the highest-rated recruits in Neal Brown’s first class (and the highest to actually make it to campus for preseason camp), had been getting some reps at spear behind Stewart and Raines but was moved to free safety on Thursday.
On Friday I chatted up cornerbacks coach Jahmile Addae regarding how he feels about the depth at corner behind veterans Keith Washington and Hakeem Bailey and what it is like to coach his younger cousin Alonzo Addae, a newcomer to WVU via transfer from New Hampshire. You can read that here (behind our paywall).
Former WVU receiver Dillon Spalding announced on Friday on Twitter that he is retiring from football due to a hip injury. Spalding left West Virginia after spring ball and landed at James Madison, where he was set to take on his former team in the season-opener in Morgantown later this month.
I left the program due to a career ending hip injury. https://t.co/WmQhgDuEAo
— Dillon Spalding (@DillonSpalding) August 9, 2019
Let’s start with a housekeeping item: After Monday’s practice, there are only two more “open” practices where the media will be allowed to watch, so these observation posts won’t be as frequent the rest of the month.
Moving on to Day 4…
We got to watch the first 30 minutes of practice this morning, and I spent the bulk of it watching the quarterbacks and receivers.
I wrote a bit about the quarterbacks and receivers in last night’s post and some more on the quarterbacks for the Tuesday paper, so I won’t bury you with the same information here.
What I will say is that nobody look especially sharp in the little bit I got to watch before the “competition” period. Neal Brown saw the same thing and then some after the media was ushered out the gate at the practice field.
“Disappointed in today’s work,” Brown said. “It was kind of a recovery day. We were out there for true work for probably about an hour. I thought it was unfocused and probably our most disappointing of the four [practices].”
Monday’s competition period did produce perhaps the best moment of camp (that we have seen) so far.
Today’s offense against defense challenge was about one on one matchups. Cornerback Keith Washington got the best of receiver Sam James by batting down an Austin Kendall pass in the first round. Offensive lineman Kelby Wickline held off defensive lineman Quondarius Qualls in pass protection to pull the offense even with the defense in the drill.
The deciding matchup was between running back Alec Sinkfield and outside linebacker Tykee Smith. Sinkfield ran a corner route that was defended well by Smith, but Jack Allison threw a really nice pass to the back shoulder and Sinkfield hauled it in with one hand in the end zone, setting off a mob celebration by the offensive players.
— Tom Bragg (@TomBraggSports) August 5, 2019
That was the last thing we got to see before it was time for the media to leave, and seemed like a decent enough play to build on the rest of practice. That wasn’t the case, according to Brown, who was clearly not all that happy with the team when he met with the media early in the afternoon.
One last bit of housekeeping:
Here is the schedule for the rest of the week:
Tuesday: Practice closed; interviews with offensive assistant coaches scheduled
Wednesday: No practice, no interviews
Thursday: Practice open to the media 9:50 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.; interviews with players scheduled
Friday: Practice closed; interviews with defensive assistants scheduled
Saturday: Practice closed; Neal Brown press conference scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
Greetings, gang. As of this writing, it is Sunday night and the West Virginia University football team has three practices in the book so far this preseason.
In the grand scheme of things, that is not a long time. It has, however, been an eventful three days in Morgantown. There is still a lot to be sorted out, obviously, so allow me to clear my head as we get set for the first full week of WVU’s 2019 preseason preparations.
The fine folks at WVU posted video from today’s press conferences, and that’s a good thing for all of us because I usually use my phone to record the press conference videos and mine was close to dead after today’s practice. I’ll drop each one in it’s own post, starting with defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. If you listen closely, I’m “beauty” in his “age before beauty” remark a few minutes in.