Football Notebook: Offseasons Are Busy Too

  • By John Antonik
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  • May 05, 2017 11:26 AM
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The offseason is hardly an offseason for college football coaches these days. Such is the case for West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, who has been traveling the state as part of the Mountaineer Athletic Club’s annual Coaches Caravan tour.
The veteran coach was in Wheeling on Monday, Martinsburg on Tuesday and Parkersburg on Wednesday.
He’s got events coming up on his calendar in Bridgeport, Princeton, Beckley and Charleston through early June.
And last weekend, Holgorsen was also down in Charlotte to take part in an alumni event in the Queen City.
In between, Holgorsen even found some time to talk about his two NFL Draft choices, cornerback Rasul Douglas and wide receiver Shelton Gibson - both selected by the Philadelphia Eagles.
On Wednesday afternoon, Holgorsen was a guest of The Sports Bash with Mike Gill on South Jersey’s 97.3 ESPN FM.
Gill, incidentally, is a WVU alumnus.
Holgorsen pointed out that five of his former players are now affiliated with the Eagles - linebacker Najee Goode, running back Wendell Smallwood, cornerback Rasul Douglas, wide receiver Shelton Gibson and rookie free agent center Tyler Orlosky.
“I’m excited about that,” Holgorsen said. “I may have to make my way over there to watch those guys practice and spend a little time in Philly.”
Holgorsen was asked to assess some of his former players now wearing Eagles uniforms.
Regarding Smallwood, who rushed for 312 yards and scored one touchdown in 13 games as a rookie in 2016, Holgorsen had this to say about him. “He had an unbelievable junior year for us. Early in his career he did a lot of dual-threat stuff, did a lot at receiver and really worked on his receiving skills. Once Charles Sims left for the NFL he took over for him and really established himself as the main back - a guy we wanted to hand the ball to about 25 times. He’s always been good on special teams. What his role is is whatever they want it to be. He’s a good football player.”
Douglas, according to Holgorsen, made a significant jump in production from his junior to senior year, “He was only here for two weeks going into the first game his junior year and ended up playing a little bit his junior year due to the fact that he wasn’t here that much,” he explained. “He had one offseason and then knocked it out of the park his senior season. He’s a humble kid and he’s appreciative of everything he’s bright-eyed, always got a smile on his face and always working hard. That, to me, is really important and I’m proud of that.”
Holgorsen said Gibson is capable of providing Philadelphia with a deep threat at wide receiver and is also versatile enough to play special teams, particularly kickoff return. “He has great game speed,” Holgorsen noted. “I think you are going to see him doing a bunch of stuff until he becomes an every-down player.”
As for Orlosky, Holgorsen believes he has a good shot of making the Eagles’ roster despite his rookie free agent status.
“Tyler is a smart kid. It won’t take him long to pick things up,” Holgorsen said. “He’s been our guy for 3 ½ years. He’s played a lot of football and he understands the game. He’s consistent and reliable. If you have a center that is consistent, reliable, strong and smart, I think you’ve got a chance to play a long time and I think that’s what he’s got a chance to do.”
Holgorsen proudly pointed out that 10 of the 19 players he’s had drafted at West Virginia have come on the defensive side of the ball, including Philadelphia linebacker Najee Goode, who Holgorsen coached in 2011.
“We’re getting our defensive side where it needs to be, which is why we’re creeping up into the top two or top three in the Big 12,” he said.
As for his current team, Holgorsen said he’s excited about opening the season against Virginia Tech in Landover, Maryland, on Sunday, Sept. 3.
He said he is also pleased to be getting some of West Virginia’s traditional regional rivals back on the grid slate.
“We’ve got Pitt coming back on the schedule, we’ve got Penn State coming back on and we’re trying to get some of the old regional rivalries back on,” he said. “The travel doesn’t affect (the team) but it does affect our fan base. When we get in an airplane it’s going to be a couple hours no matter what, but for the fans it’s good to get these things kicked back off.
“That game on Sunday night, the NFL hasn’t started yet, so that game is going to be one of the most-watched games of the season,” Holgorsen added. “It’s going to be a sellout and I think it’s going to be a wonderful football game.”