In honor of the Five Guys Burgers and Fries we keep hearing will open over at the Suncrest Town Center sometime soon, I thought it only appropriate to come up with five guys to keep an eye on during spring football practice, now scheduled to get underway March 30.
West Virginia will have 15 workouts, including the Gold-Blue Game, to try and figure out who plays where when fall training camp starts.
In no particular order here are my five guys to watch this spring:
Travis Bell – With Eain Smith still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, Bell will get a lot of reps at free safety this spring. The former Florida Top 100 prospect has worked hard in the weight room this winter, adding 10 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame and now weighing 197. Can Bell give Smith a run for his money as the team’s starting free safety? We’ll see.
Bruce Irvin – Who doesn’t want to keep an eye on Irvin, probably West Virginia’s most explosive defensive player since the artist formerly known as Pacman Jones. What makes Irvin so intriguing to watch is that this is his first spring working with veteran D-line coach Bill Kirelawich. The hope after 15 spring practices is that Irvin is ready to become an every-down player instead of just a pass rushing specialist.
Doug Rigg – Last fall Rigg caught the defensive staff’s attention with his ball hawking skills. Now 13 pounds heavier, weighing in at 228, is Rigg ready to become a starter at one of the open linebacker spots? Stay tuned.
Ivan McCartney – Nobody last year came in more heralded than McCartney, a 2009 Army All-American game performer, but he caught just one pass for four yards in 12 games as a freshman in 2010. In only nine months Dana Holgorsen turned Justin Blackmon from an unknown into the Biletnikoff winner. Can he do something similar with I-Mac?
Quinton Spain – West Virginia’s biggest player got even bigger during winter workouts, now weighing in at 348. With both starting tackles out for the spring, Spain is going to get an opportunity to show new O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh what he can do. We know Spain is big enough to block out the sun, but can he block rush ends and blitzing safeties?
Based on the updated heights and weights sent over from the strength and conditioning staff, here are the biggest gainers and losers heading into spring practice …Biggest Gainers
OL, Blaise Arbogast, +28 (now 328)
DB, Anthony Vecchio, +21 (now 178)
LB, Troy Gloster, +24 (now 224)
DL, Ted Rietschlin, +19 (now 264)
OL, Mike Calicchio, +19 (now 317)
OL, Quinton Spain, +18 (now 348)
QB, Paul Millard, +18 (now 218)Biggest Losers
RB, Ryan Clarke, -15 (now 232)
FS, Eain Smith, -6 (now 198)
WR, Willie Milhouse, -6 (now 202)
RB, Ricky Kovatch, -5 (now 234)
DB, Brantwon Bowser, -5 (now 185)
DE, Will Clarke, -5 (now 260)
LB, Casey Vance, -5 (now 222)
DB, Darwin Cook, -4 (now 201)
There are nine players listed on this spring’s roster weighing more than 300 pounds, easily the most 300-pounders since Don Nehlen's last year coaching the Mountaineers in 2000. And it is very likely that all five offensive line starters this fall will weigh more than 300 pounds.News and Notes
- West Virginia will sell advance tickets for this year’s Gold-Blue Spring Game scheduled for Friday, April 29, at 7 p.m. One lucky fan purchasing a spring game ticket online through WVUGAME.com
will be randomly selected to win one of the WVU Pro Combat helmets the Mountaineers wore in the victory over Pitt in the Backyard Brawl.
In addition to the spring game, a pregame concert by the Davisson Brothers Band will take place in the stadium parking lot beginning at 5:30 p.m., long-time senior associate athletic director Garrett Ford will be recognized for his 44 years of outstanding service to the University, and an old-timers game featuring quarterbacks Major Harris and Pat White as team captains will also take place before the game.
“There are a lot of cool things Mountaineers fans will be very excited to see that haven’t been done before at a spring game,” said West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck.
Approximately 50 former Mountaineer players took part in last year’s game, but Luck would like to see more former players return to campus this spring. However, one ex-player won’t be taking part in this year’s old-timers game ... and that would be one Oliver Luck, who said his passing days are over.
Tickets are priced at $10 for this year’s spring game with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the WVU Children’s Hospital. More than $600,000 has been donated to the WVU Children’s Hospital over the years from spring game proceeds.
- For the fourth straight year under coach Bob Huggins West Virginia averaged more than 10,000 per game at the WVU Coliseum in 2011. The Mountaineers’ average of 11,469 this season was second to last year’s school-record average of 12,377 fans per game.
There were no top 10 crowds in 2011, but the 15,032 that showed up to watch West Virginia beat Louisville 72-70 on March 5 was the 11th-largest crowd in Coliseum history.
- Other varsity sports have seen a surge in attendance as well. Women’s basketball finished fourth in the Big East in average attendance drawing a school-record 3,103 fans for its 16 home dates. The previous season high happened in 2008 when the women averaged 2,671 fans per game.
Seven of the 10 best crowds in WVU women’s basketball history have come in the last two seasons.
Men’s soccer averaged 1,149 fans per game, including 2,209 for the 2010 season opener against Monmouth – the second largest crowd in Dick Dlesk Stadium history.
The WVU women’s soccer team posted two of the top five crowds at Dick Dlesk Stadium with 1,688 fans showing up for West Virginia’s NCAA tournament first round match against Morehead State and 1,376 fans attending a regular season game against Virginia.
And the Beauty & the Beast was also a success for gymnastics and wrestling with 3,206 fans showing up to see the two teams battle Michigan State simultaneously in January.
- How about this: if Kevin Jones chooses to return for his senior year West Virginia will have two returning 1,000-point scorers for the first time in school history. Jones currently shows 1,165 career points while guard Truck Bryant has scored 1,031 points heading into his senior season.
Here is the list of West Virginia’s 1,000-point scorers heading into their senior year:
Jerry West, 1,509
Da’Sean Butler, 1,441
Hot Rod Hundley, 1,401
Warren Baker, 1,299
Lowes Moore, 1,221
Wil Robinson, 1,144
Kevin Jones, 1,165
Chris Brooks, 1,142
Rod Thorn, 1,133
Lester Rowe, 1,136
P.G. Greene, 1,115
Ron Williams, 1,115
Greg Jones, 1,106
Damian Owens, 1,087
Kevin Pittsnogle, 1,071
Darryl Prue, 1,047
Truck Bryant, 1,031
- Mountaineer basketball signee Jabarie Hinds recently scored 26 points to lead Mount Vernon to a record ninth New York state title … http://www.newyorksportswriters.org/blog/2011-03-21-nysphsaa-basketball-tournament.shtml
Hinds and Villanova signee Achraf Yacoubou shared Mr. Basketball honors in New York in 2011 … http://www.sbnation.com/high-school-basketball-march-madness/2011/3/11/2043737/hinds-yacoubou-share-new-york-mr-basketball-honors
Men's basketball signee Aaron Brown’s Penn-Wood High team is still alive in the Pennsylvania state championships, facing Mount Lebanon tonight in one semifinal game at the Jordan Center in State College, Pa. … http://www.thealmanac.net/alm/sportstory10/03-23-2011-Lebo-boys-basketball-w-pix
Brown is averaging 19.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game heading into tonight’s semifinals.
Meanwhile, men's hoop signee Keaton Miles, a 6-6 forward, was today named to the Texas Class 4A all-state team … http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/yb/157125887
- WVU women's basketball signee Averee Fields outplayed Louisville signee Sara Hammond, but her high school team lost in the state playoffs ... http://www.examiner.com/sports-in-paducah/averee-fields-outplays-sarah-hammond-but-lady-lakers-fall-semifinals
- Earlier this month, WVU football coach Bill Stewart received the “Pillar of Values” award presented by the Warren Christian Apologetics Center of Vienna, W.Va. … http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page/content.detail/id/545599.html
- Former West Virginia University standout Jedd Gyorko saw his first action with the big team on Tuesday when he went into the game as a late-inning defensive replacement in San Diego’s 7-0 loss to Milwaukee. Gyorko also walked in one plate appearance.
Gyorko is considered one of the top prospects in a San Diego system loaded with talented young players … http://www.nctimes.com/sports/baseball/professional/mlb/padres/article_dbff35b6-12e6-5c88-b05f-46affc3a7775.html
- Women’s track coach Sean Cleary said he is taking 15 athletes out to Palo Alto, Calif., to compete in this weekend’s Stanford Invitational. Indoor All-American Chelsea Carrier will be competing in the hurdles, high jump, 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays.
April Rotilio will be making her 2011 debut in the 200, 400, 4x100 and the 4x400-meter relays, sophomore Chené Townsend will compete in the hurdles and the 4x100, Keri Bland and Kaylyn Christopher will run the 800 and 1,500, while sophomore Stephanie Aldea will make her 2011 debut in the 800 and 1,500.
Outdoor All-American Marie-Louise Asselin will not be competing this weekend, according to Cleary. Health permitting, Cleary believes this year’s outdoor team could be the strongest he has ever fielded at WVU.
- With a split on Tuesday against Eastern Michigan, the WVU baseball team will take a 14-9 record into its Big East opener this weekend at South Florida. South Florida is now 7-10 after Tuesday’s loss to Florida Gulf Coast.
Nine of West Virginia’s first 12 conference games are on the road at USF this weekend, at Louisville next weekend and at Notre Dame April 15-17. If the Mountaineers can somehow come out of that still standing, West Virginia will have nine of its remaining 15 conference games at Hawley Field.
- Senior Liz Repella secured her place in WVU history with a pair of outstanding performances in the NCAA tournament. She scored 26 points in West Virginia’s 79-73 win over Houston on Sunday before hitting for a season-high 29 in the Mountaineers’ 82-68 loss to No. 1 seed Baylor Tuesday night.
Repella finished her career seventh on the school scoring list with 1,641 points. The six ahead of Repella are Cathy Parson (2,115), Rosemary Kosiorek (2,061), Talisha Hargis (1,751), Kate Bulger (1,733), Meg Bulger (1,665) and Donna Abbott (1,656).
Repella made a school-best three NCAA tournament appearances in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
- Ron Cecil, a member of Jim Carlen’s 1969 Peach Bowl team at West Virginia, was recently inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Hall of Fame … http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/valleynewsdispatch/sports/s_728284.html
Enjoy the rest of your week!