MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia took the field for a mid-day practice on Monday, suiting up in helmets and shoulder pads in the nearly 90-degree heat. The practice field was filled to the brim with media and team personnel basking in the opportunity to get an early look at head coach Neal Brown’s 2021 team.
There’s not much of a change to the depth chart from the beginning of summer, though. Bryce Ford-Wheaton and the rest of the veteran receiving core are still in place, as are the quarterbacks. Jarret Doege is still QB1, but there’s a toss-up at QB2. Redshirt freshman Garrett Greene, who put up 40 yards rushing and 24 yards passing last season, is battling with true freshman Will Crowder and redshirt sophomore Matt Cavallaro for the backup spot.
Of note on the line, Zach Frazier is a go for the starting center position. Doege lauded the sophomore for his consistency today, and seems confident in his steadfast mentality. The two are also roommates, so the chemistry is palpable.
The running back depth chart looks especially strong, though not especially veteran to head coach Brown’s program. Running back Leddie Brown is expected to have yet another standout season, adding to last season’s 1,010 yards and nine touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore Tony Mathis Jr. is one to watch for sure, and the coaches were loving his contributions today in practice. He seemed confident and ready to step up and fill a gap.
To the tight end depth chart, Mike O’Laughlin, presumed to take over the starting spot, was pacing today at practice, clad in a boot. No word on the change or how long O’Laughlin will be sidelined, but redshirt junior T.J. Banks is next in line. Head coach Brown seems to think that O’Laughlin will be out of the boot and back to work soon, as the severity of the injury seems to be mild.
On defense, sophomore nose tackle Akheem Mesidor is set to have yet another breakout season. After putting up five sacks and claiming Freshman All-American honors last season, he was out taking lots of reps earlier today and looking comfortable.
Dante Stills is still the presumed starter at defensive tackle, but the dynamic without Darius will certainly be one to watch.
Middle linebacker is hurting following the exodus of Tony Fields Jr., but the obvious fill comes in the form of veteran Josh Chandler-Semedo. Exree Loe is expected to get reps as well.
This season also brings in a couple stellar transfers. Left guard Ja’Quay Hubbard, a Virginia transfer, was a mainstay in the lines today, potentially cementing his starting position. Safety Scottie Young, a redshirt senior from the University of Arizona, is also one to watch, gunning for another of West Virginia’s starting spots.
With a veteran offense and a defense in need of some star power, nothing seems set in stone. As always, it’s still a fight until Sept. 4.