Redshirt-sophomore center Briason Mays has started getting some work in at right tackle, according to Tuesday’s WVU training camp report.
“We think he’s got a chance,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “He’s got the knowledge to be able to play really all of the positions just from his background of being a center. I think he’s got some potential to help us out there at tackle. He’s got good twitch. He’s got decent length and he’s athletic. He’s done well. We kind of threw him in the fire on Saturday.”
Mays started seven games at center last season after starter Josh Sills and his replacement, Chase Behrndt, went down with injuries. Sills’s injury was serious enough to end his season and when he returned to game action, Behrndt was not healthy enough to play center. Mays was eventually benched in favor of Behrndt when he was healthy enough to snap.
A redshirt-freshman last season, Mays struggled at times when facing the bigger, stronger, more experienced nose tackles that Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor had last season. With Sills transferring to Oklahoma State, it seemed like it would be a three-man battle between Mays, Behrndt and freshman Zach Frazier for who would start at center this season.
With Mays now kicking out to play some tackle this camp and offensive line coach Matt Moore’s aversion to playing young linemen, it would appear Behrndt has locked up the center spot. Flanking Behrndt on either side will be guards James Gmiter and Michael Brown. Gmiter (10 starts) and Brown (six starts) were WVU’s main guards whenever Behrndt played center last season.
“They’ve played a lot of football together and our expectations for them are high,” Brown said Tuesday. “We weren’t very good yesterday, those three didn’t perform as well as we’d like them to and they came back today and I thought they were better. They’ve still got a ways to go, but I thought they were better.”
Mays joins junior John Hughes as interior linemen transitioning to tackle for this season. Hughes started one game at guard in 2019, but it was decided he would slide out to tackle for 2020. Mays also becomes the Mountaineers’ most experienced tackle in terms of playing time. Mays’s seven games played last season are more than all the other tackles – Hughes (one), Brandon Yates (zero), Junior Uzebu (zero) and Parker Moorer (zero) – combined.