Early National Views: Not A Lot Of Star Power For WVU Football
If West Virginia is going to make much noise in the Big 12 football conference this fall, it’s going to have to do so via team effort, rather than star power — at least if the views of some early pre-season publications are to be believed.
Athlon does not have any Mountaineers on its national preseason All-America team, and WVU selections on its all-Big 12 team, as well as that of College Football News, are a bit sparse.
West Virginia put two offensive linemen on Athlon’s four-deep league squad, including first-team pick Colton McKivitz and second-team designee Josh Sills. The Mountaineers also placed a pair of running backs (Kennedy McKoy – third team and Martell Pettaway – fourth team) on its All-Big 12 squads, which is certainly acknowledgement of its strength at that position. The only other WVU offensive player on Athlon’s preseason list, however, is wide receiver T-J. Simmons — a second team pick.
On defense, WVU placed lineman Dante Stills and cornerback Josh Norwood on Athlon’s fourth team, while placekicker Evan Staley was a second-team pick. (Cornerback Kenny Robinson, since transferred, was also named to the defense.)
West Virginia’s total of eight selections was next-to-last among Big 12 teams, besting only Kansas’ total of five. The rest of the league showed Iowa State and Texas tied with 15 all-league picks, followed by Oklahoma (13), Oklahoma State (12), TCU (11), Baylor (10) and Texas Tech and Kansas State (9 each).
Athlon named 12 Big 12 players to its four-deep preseason All-America team, last among Power 5 conferences. The SEC led all leagues with 26 picks, followed by the Big 10 with 21. The ACC (18) and Pac 12 (17) also bested the Big 12 total.
Athlon also recognized WVU’s tough non-conference schedule, which simply adds to the difficulty the Mountaineers face this season. The publication rates West Virginia’s non-league slate the second toughest in the Big 12, behind only Texas.
College Football News went a bit of a different route, naming just one all-Big 12 team. WVU did have two players on that list — Sills on the offensive line and Staley at placekicker. CFN also takes an interesting angle in naming the top 30 players in the league, which can help give notice to some players who might not get notice on the all-league team by virtue of playing at a stacked position. The Mountaineers put two players on this list: safety JoVanni Stewart at #20 and quarterback Austin Kendall at #27.
Again, though, WVU was well down CFN’s total list. Only Kansas State, with one-all-league pick, had fewer than WVU’s two. Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma also had two selections each, with Oklahoma (5), Iowa State (4), Texas (3) and Texas Tech (3) leading the pack.
Of course, football is a team game, and a squad that plays well together can overcome an apparent lack of star power. That’s certainly an angle that the new Mountaineer coaching staff will be pushing in its first year on the job this fall, and one that West Virginia hopes to ride as it has done in past seasons when some of its players were overlooked, or underrated.