March 29 was the day that the Big 12 conference’s original suspension on team activities was set to expire and a re-evaluation was going to take place.
That re-evaluation happened, and the Big 12 decided that the situation with COVID-19 had gotten to a point that the conference decided to extend the suspension of team activities, organized or voluntary, through May 31, essentially eliminating all Spring athletic activities.
The biggest impact this has on WVU is the cancellation of the annual Gold-Blue Spring football game. In a statement, WVU head coach Neal Brown expressed the disappointment he, and all Mountaineer fans, are experiencing.
“It’s disappointing for our players and fans that the Gold-Blue Spring Game is canceled. The game is the highlight of the spring for everyone,” Brown said. These are very serious times, and this is the right decision. We need to do everything we can to protect our student-athletes, University, state and community. Last year’s spring game was a great day, and let’s work to bring the event back bigger and better next April.”
Last year’s Gold-Blue game was a sort of showcase for all the new athletes that would having playing time for the Mountaineers in the fall. Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall (7-12, 154 yards, one touchdown) and redshirt freshman Sam James (four catches, 85 yards) made good first impressions, leading the Gold team to a 23-7 victory.
With the cancelation of this year’s game, fans will have no opportunity to see first-time Mountaineers in action.
WVU has five early enrollees from its 2020 class and a pair of early enrollee walk-ons that would presumably have made their first appearances as Mountaineers in the game.
A pair of JUCO transfers, defensive lineman Quay Mays and defensive back Jackie Matthews both figure to be contributors for West Virginia’s defense in 2020.
True freshmen Garrett Green (quarterback), Reese Smith (receiver) and Jairo Faverus (cornerback) enrolled early at WVU to get a head start this Spring and WVU fans would have had their first look at the group in the Spring game.
The walk-ons, JUCO quarterback Matt Cavallaro and Louisville transfer receiver Keion Wakefield will both provide depth for the Mountaineers in 2020.
Outside of the newcomers, there were also a number of Mountaineers set to make their returns from injury in the Spring game. Cornerback Dreshun Miller missed all of last season with a knee injury after transferring from Eastern Arizona College. Brown said Miller was finally healthy heading into Spring practices. Alabama transfer Vandarius Cowan and Temple transfer Sean Ryan both suffered season-ending injuries mid-season in 2019 and were expected to be fully healthy this Spring.
WVU fans will not be able to see any of these players and there will be no football activities until at least August as things stand now.
What We’ll Miss’ is a series that will look at all the potential storylines that won’t be able to happen because of the Big 12’s cancelation of Spring athletics. A previous football story looked at the would-be quarterback battle between Austin Kendall and Jarret Doege.