WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

GAMEDAY: WVU hosts James Madison


No big pregame blog post here this week. We’ve been over all the angles. We’ve written about all that can be written about. Neal Brown begins his tenure as the WVU head coach today. Feel free to share your thoughts  on the game in the comments section below.


A few weeks ago, sometime after the start of preseason camp, I sat down and — I can’t stress this enough — just for fun — I picked every game for every Big 12 football team this season on a scrap piece of notebook paper. Looking back now, I still feel pretty good about these picks (with the exception of the Texas Tech/Arizona game — yikes). I mentioned these on the debut episode of our new podcast and said I would post them to the blog, so here they are.

Again, these were made for no other reason than I was bored during preseason camp. Standard rules apply — if I’m wrong let’s never speak of them again, and if I’m right expect me to gloat.

Continue reading…

West Virginia just published its first football depth chart of the season. It’s copy and pasted below from WVUsports.com


Position First Second Third
WR (X) Sean Ryan Bryce Wheaton
WR (H) Tevin Bush
LT Colton McKivitz Junior Uzebu
LG Michael Brown James Gmiter
C Josh Sills Briason Mays or
Adam Stilley
RG John Hughes or
Chase Behrndt
Briason Mays
RT Kelby Wickline Tyler Thurmond
TE (Y) Mike O’Laughlin Jovani Haskins or
T.J. Banks
SLOT T.J. Simmons Randy Fields Jr.
WR (Z) Sam James George Campbell
QB Austin Kendall Jack Allison Trey Lowe III
RB (F) Kennedy McKoy Martell Pettaway Leddie Brown or
Alec Sinkfield
FB (S) Logan Thimons Jackson Knipper


Position First Second Third
DT Reese Donahue Dante Stills Stone Wolfley
NT Darius Stills Brenon Thrift Jordan Jefferson
DE Jeffery Pooler Jr. or
Taijh Alston or
Reuben Jones
BANDIT Quondarius Qualls Zach Sandwisch Jared Bartlett
WLB Josh Chandler Exree Loe Deamonte Lindsay
MLB Dylan Tonkery Jake Abbott or
Shea Campbell
SPEAR JoVanni Stewart Kwantel Raines or
Dante Bonamico
LCB Hakeem Bailey Tae Mayo Devan Wade
FS Josh Norwood Kerry Martin Jr.
CS Sean Mahone Tykee Smith Noah Guzman
RCB Keith Washington Jr. Nicktroy Fortune

Special Teams

Position First Second Third
K Evan Staley Casey Legg
H Josh Growden Trey Lowe III
P Josh Growden Kolton McGhee
KO Evan Staley Casey Legg
LS Rex Sunahara Kyle Poland
KOR Sam James Keith Washington Jr. Kennedy McKoy
PR Alec Sinkfield

Tom Bragg’s AP preseason Top 25 ballot

Here is my Associated Press preseason Top 25 ballot. I’ll do my best to post these each week through the season. Reminder, the next one is not out until after Labor Day.


  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Georgia
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Michigan
  6. LSU
  7. Ohio State
  8. Florida
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Oregon
  11. Iowa State
  12. Texas
  13. Texas A&M
  14. Penn State
  15. Washington
  16. Army
  17. Virginia
  18. Auburn
  19. Wisconsin
  20. Stanford
  21. Utah
  22. Mississippi State
  23. Syracuse
  24. Nebraska
  25. Iowa


(photo by Sean McNamara)

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.

Spalding was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from quarterback Trey Lowe at West Virginia’s spring game this year. 

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.

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.