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Alec Sinkfield Could Remind Fans of a Former WVU Star in 2019



WVU RB Alec Sinkfield getting ready to field a kick during spring practice. The sophomore is primed to play a more versatile role in 2019. (Photo by Christopher Hall)

For certain parts of the WVU fanbase, the following is going to sound like blasphemy. To others, it will come across as hyperbole, and to some, it will be the glorious answer to a lofty, seven-year-old absence…

Alec Sinkfield will be the closest thing to Tavon Austin that Mountaineer fans have seen since 2012.

Before you get up in my mentions, take a look at this quote that Sinkfield gave to reporters about what Neal Brown is looking for when he decides which playmakers will get the ball in their hands.

“All he needs is a guy that can make people miss in open space and win your one-on-one battles, which we preach about a lot,” the sophomore Floridian said. “If he feels comfortable with you winning your one-on-one battles, no problem getting you the ball regardless of your size.”

That statement is right on the nose. It sounds like the Amazon description of a book on how to use Tavon Austin. Quotes like this one have been used by Sinkfield, running backs coach Chad Scott and the rest of the position group since the spring.

Sinkfield has become one of the most talked-about players of this dramatic offseason, and it’s partially because the Tavon comparisons come so naturally. At 5’9″ and 188 pounds, Sinkfield has an awfully similar profile to the former first-round pick.

One of the big stories of fall camp thus far has been the usage of Sinkfield and Kennedy McKoy at the inside receiver position in addition to their roles in the backfield. Both are seen as more versatile pass-catchers, while Martell Pettaway and Leddie Brown look more like traditional running backs.

The versatility that Sinkfield brings is the main reason he could fill that Tavon role in 2019. Prior to his senior year of high school, he was a wide receiver, before eventually moving to running back for his senior year. As a result Sinkfield was extremely receptive to a potential move when Scott brought the idea to split some of the tailbacks out wide.

“There was no need to be sold on anything. I’m here to play football, regardless of what position it is,” Sinkfield said. “I guess we all want to get to the NFL. I can’t go to the NFL and be like, ‘no, I’m not gonna play this position.’”

Sinkfield brings a level of shiftiness to the Mountaineer backfield that is a trademark of South Florida skill players. His high school highlights show some big-play talent that Mountaineer fans haven’t seen in quite a while. While Tevin Bush has that highlight reel quality, Sinkfield has the combination of body, strength and change-of-direction that also transformed any WVU game featuring Tavon Austin into must-watch television.

One of the most important parts of Tavon’s game was that he had the other playmakers around him that the defense had to respect, which allowed him to explode when least expected. With threats like McKoy, Pettaway and TJ Simmons drawing the eye of opponents, Sinkfield’s lateral ability will bring a well-needed change of pace and home run potential that the Mountaineers will need this season.

Don’t think for one second that Sinkfield won’t see touches this season just because he isn’t the most experienced player at his position. With the ball spread around to all kinds of different skill players under the new staff, Sinkfield believes that preconceived notions mean nothing.

“This offense is getting the ball to everybody,” Sinkfield said. “Regardless of if you’re first, second-string, whatever, however that works, you’re gonna play. You’re gonna get the ball.”

The ability that Tavon Austin brought to Milan Puskar Stadium is unlikely to ever be replicated. Mountaineer fans have been hoping for a similar game-breaking talent to emerge ever since the Baltimore native’s eligibility ran out back in 2012. With the ever-growing versatility of Alec Sinkfield, that player may already be on campus in Morgantown.

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