West Virginia wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway has had to bring a few more chairs into his meeting room to accommodate the growing number of receivers at his disposal. And he’s by no means complaining about it.
“We’ve added probably five-six wideouts since the spring,” Galloway said Saturday morning. “The ones that were here – I won’t say they have a head start, but they are able to see it better and understand it a little bit better and the guys that came this summer are catching up to them.
“Right now it’s a big room but it’s a good thing,” he added. “There’s a lot of competition and that’s what we want.”
The wide receiver group we saw last spring may or may not be the group that we see out on the football field this fall. Added to the mix are touted junior college receivers Mario Alford
and Ronald Carswell
, prep standouts Shelton Gibson
and Jacky Marcellus
as well as a familiar name to Mountaineer fans, Ivan McCartney
, a former four-star prospect out of Miami who left the program in the middle of the season last year.
If McCartney can realize his immense potential he could be the X factor for the Mountaineers this season because he has more game experience playing in Holgorsen’s offense at wide receiver than anyone else in the program right now.
McCartney caught 49 balls with three touchdowns as the team’s No. 3 receiver two years ago in 2011.
“He’s matured, I think, with the struggles that he went through last year,” said Galloway. “The fact that I was involved with recruiting him I think that’s helped him. I’m glad he’s back. He’s an older kid - a senior - and he’s played, so it’s good to have him back.”
Galloway believes last chances can sometimes a player’s best chance, and this is clearly McCartney’s final opportunity to excel on the collegiate level.
“He’s getting pushed and they’re all getting pushed,” said Galloway. “Even though he’s the oldest kid there is still somebody behind him trying to take his spot.”
Alford, Carswell and Gibson are speedy guys who can separate from defensive backs while bigger guys like McCartney and junior Kevin White
have the size (both standing taller than 6-feet-2) and physical ability to go up and get the ball against smaller defenders.
“Kevin is big,” said Galloway. “You can tell from the spring and going through summer workouts that he has gotten stronger and thicker. He could run when he got here, so the biggest thing for him is that he has to practice at a high level. That’s the challenge for him – to practice at a high level.”
And although he’s not in Galloway’s wide receiver room, 6-foot-3-inch, 252-pound A-back Cody Clay
is also going to be a major factor in the passing game this fall. The sophomore has certainly caught Galloway’s eye.
is a dynamic player,” Galloway said. “He can do so much for us on the line, off the line and in the backfield. I’ve got my 16 guys but that’s not including Cody, so it’s one of those things where (a player) may be beating his guy out but Cody’s going to play.”
It has been discussed many times the success Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey had the last two years in Holgorsen’s offense, but perhaps the best thing about what Holgorsen does is that he can adapt to any type of player - big, small, fast or slow - it doesn’t matter, and Galloway said that makes it convenient when he goes out to recruit some of the country’s top wide receivers.
“Coach Holgorsen has had a great run at it and we want to continue the great run of producing skilled athletes, so if you want to catch balls for a lot of yardage and score touchdowns and things like that it’s one of those things where it’s a proven fact that somebody is going to have a lot of catches, a lot of yards and score a lot of touchdowns,” Galloway pointed out. “And sometimes it can be multiple guys. When he was at Houston he had four 1,000-yard receivers.”
Galloway is making his second stop at WVU, having previously worked on Bill Stewart’s Mountaineer staff before moving on to Wake Forest. The veteran coach admits it can be exciting game planning with an innovative offensive strategist like Holgorsen.
“He understands and knows what he wants and how to attack defenses,” Galloway noted. “We might say something and it will just click with him, ‘No, that isn’t going to work. Let’s move it this way’ and we’re like, ‘Oh, OK.’”
Perhaps Holgorsen’s most impressive trait is being able to process things on the field so quickly, says Galloway.
“Not having gone through a game with him, but just through the spring and the last couple of days working with him, he understands what he wants and how to get it,” he said.
Additionally, good offense doesn’t always have to be complicated. Much has been made of Holgorsen’s simple offensive system but it’s just a matter of repetition, repetition and more repetition, according to Galloway.
“With this offense you get good at whatever spot you’re at and it’s our job to attack whatever defenses are trying to do to us,” Galloway explained.
As the team works toward its season opener against William & Mary on Saturday, Aug. 31, Galloway said he likes the way the players are going about their business so far during camp.
“The biggest thing is for us to handle our business right now and whatever people are going to think they’re going to think,” he said. “We tell them not to worry about what outside people think. We all know what we can do and we control what happens. The people in this building and in this locker room and the coaching staff, we believe in them and we’re just going to continue to go out there and work.”