News, Notes & Rumors – June 25
Mountaineer men’s basketball player Brandon Knapper is dealing with another ailment.
The point guard missed his entire freshman season while recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the preseason. He ultimately took a medical redshirt. Now heading in to his redshirt freshman season he’s again dealing with an issue. Allan Taylor of MetroNews was the first to report that Knapper is being treated for blood clots.
WVU head coach Bob Huggins confirmed Knapper’s situation, though he said he wasn’t sure of the ultimate prognosis for the young guard.
A graduate of South Charleston (W.Va.) High School, Knapper has been able to continue to do strength and conditioning work this summer, but the Mountaineer medical staff is not allowing him to scrimmage with the rest of the team. He did participate in all of West Virginia’s practices during the Big 12 Championship and NCAA Tournament.
* * * * * * *
West Virginia’s offense is getting so much hype that it’s hard to believe any Mountaineer on that side of the football is going under the radar.
After all, nearly three-quarters of WVU’s offensive starters were named to Big 12 preseason first- (quarterback Will Grier, receiver David Sills, center Matt Jones and tackle Yodny Cajuste) or second-team (running back Kennedy McKoy, receiver Gary Jennings, tackle Colton McKivitz and all-purpose Marcus Simms) by Lindy’s or Athlon preseason preview magazines.
But two Mountaineer offensive players who haven’t gotten a whole lot of outside attention are garnering a great deal of praise from West Virginia’s coaches this summer. Thus WVU fans should pay particular attention to senior tight end Trevon Wesco and redshirt freshmen running back Alec Sinkfield.
At 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, Wesco has the size to be an excellent blocking tight end, and the former Musselman (W.Va.) High School quarterback also has the athletic ability to be a factor in the pass game. Coaches have cited his leadership skills, and they also have noted that his work ethic in the past six months has really improved his all-around tight end play.
As for Sinkfield, he’s not especially big at 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds. But the youngster from Delray Beach, Fla., reportedly has a toughness that belies his size. He’s also getting acclaim for his speed, his ball skills and attitude. Despite the presence of more experienced backs like Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway on WVU’s depth chart, Sinkfield is going to make a major push for the starting job heading into the 2018 season.
* * * * * * *
The Mountaineer football team added a couple walk-on cornerbacks to its roster recently.
Barry Moreland comes to WVU after having spent two years at Central Lakes College in Staples, Minn. A 5-foot-11, 194-pound cornerback, Moreland amassed 57 tackles and five interceptions in his two junior college seasons. Moreland is a native of Zion, Ill.
West Virginia also added Jaelen Gross. A 6-foot-2, 176-pound native of Lusby, Md., Gross was a dual-threat quarterback at Patuxent High School, but also saw action at receiver during his prep career. He will line up at cornerback for the Mountaineers.
Only time will tell how much either Moreland or Gross play for the Mountaineers, but the two walk-ons certainly provide depth to the cornerback position. WVU now has eight cornerbacks on its roster, six of whom are scholarship players. West Virginia could potentially add another cornerback before the start of preseason camp in August, as it is still waiting on UCLA grad transfer Denzel Fisher, who is finishing up graduation requirements.
* * * * * * *
While the Mountaineers aren’t likely to change the apparel and shoe provider for their athletic program any time soon, some around the college football world have been doing so. According to FootballScoop.com, seven FBS schools signed contract with different apparel companies this past year, and all seven of those switched to adidas.
That being the case, the company the outfits West Virginia’s athletic teams, Nike, still is the brute in the college world. Forty-two Power 5 programs have exclusive contracts with Nike. Of the other 23, adidas now has 12 (up from five), while Under Armour has 11.
The Big 12 is even more Nike dominant, as eight teams in the league wear the Swoosh. Only Kansas (adidas) and Texas Tech (Under Armour) are outliers. Not every other P5 conference is as Nike centric as the Big 12, but at least 57 percent of the members of each of the big-boy leagues have contracts with Nike.
Of course, with the FBI investigation into the alleged payment of recruits by adidas representatives, now may not be the best time to be associated with Three Stripes.
* * * * * * *
A former Mountaineer has a new job.
Joe Pendry, who is a native of Matheny, W.Va., lettered as an end at WVU in 1966 but an injury forced him to give up his playing career. He turned to coaching and became one of the most successful in the business. He spent six seasons coaching the Mountaineers including a two-year stint as the program’s offensive coordinator (1976-77). In all, he spent 40 years as a college or pro coach, including 21 in the NFL. From 2007-10 he was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Alabama, working for another one-time WVU assistant, Nick Saban.
Pendry, who is now 70, retired from coaching following the 2010 season, but he remained with the Crimson Tide, serving as a special advisor to Saban.
Now Pendry is departing Tuscaloosa, but he’s not moving far away. He’s reportedly going to serve as an executive for the Birmingham franchise of the new Alliance of American Football, which will begin play next spring.
Former Pitt Panther and long-time NFL coach Tim Lewis is expected to be the head coach for Birmingham.
* * * * * * *
Jevon Carter was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies last week, being selected with the second pick of the second round of the NBA draft.
Carter’s former Mountaineer classmate, Daxter Miles, also is going to get an NBA shot, though as a free agent. Miles will be a member of the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team.
The NBA summer league begins play on July 2, and games will be held in Sacramento (July 2-5), Utah (July 2-5) and Las Vegas (July 6-17). The first games for Carter and for Miles both will take place on Monday, July 2. Most of the NBA summer league games are televised, normally by NBA-TV or one of the ESPN channels.