MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As Mountaineer football draws to within a few weeks from the start of fall practice, West Virginia’s roster and preseason depth chart are beginning to take shape.
Three walk-ons who participated in spring practice at WVU – offensive lineman Chez Jennings, linebacker Drew Joseph and fullback Trace Weitzel – are no longer members of West Virginia’s football squad.
Also, all of the Mountaineer scholarship newcomers are on campus other than freshman running back Jaylen Anderson, whose status is still unclear.
In terms of WVU’s preseason depth chart, there are few things more dangerous than making too much out of a two-deep before the start of fall camp. Still, the depth chart West Virginia recently posted in its 2021 football media guide is worth perusing.
Here is a look:
WR (x) – Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Kaden Prather
WR (slot) – Winston Wright, Reese Smith
LT – Brandon Yates, Nick Malone or Ja’Quay Hubbard
LG – James Gmiter, Donavan Beaver
C – Zach Frazier, Tyler Connolly
RG – Doug Nester or Jordan White
RT – Parker Moorer or John Hughes
TE (y) – Mike O’Laughlin, T.J. Banks
WR (h) – Sam James, Graeson Malashevich
WR (z) – Sean Ryan or Isaiah Esdale, Sam Brown
QB – Jarret Doege, Garret Greene
RB – Leddie Brown, Tony Mathis, A’Varius Sparrow
DT – Dante Stills, Jalen Thornton or Sean Martin
NT – Akheem Mesidor, Jordan Jefferson or Edward Vesterinen
DE – Taijh Alston, Lanell Carr or Taurus Simmons
Bandit – VanDarius Cowan or Jared Bartlett
WLB – Exree Loe, Lance Dixon
MLB – Josh Chandler-Semedo, Deshawn Stevens or James Thomas
Spear – Scottie Young, Naim Muhammad
LCB – Nicktroy Fortune, Daryl Porter Jr.
FS – Alonzo Addae, Davis Mallinger
CS – Sean Mahone, K.J. Martin
RCB – Jackie Matthews, Charles Woods
PK – Evan Staley or Tyler Sumpter
H – Graeson Malashevich
P – Tyler Sumpter
KO – Casey Legg
LS – J.P. Handley or Austin Brinkman
KOR – Winston Wright, A’Varius Sparrow
PR – Graeson Malashevich, Winston Wright
There’s not necessarily anything earth-shattering in this preseason depth chart, but it’s always an interesting read with the regular season quickly approaching.
A few things to note:
• The backups are not locked in stone, as a backup or even a starter at another position could actually be the No. 2 at a different spot. For instance, at center, starting left guard James Gmiter would probably take over in the middle if Zach Frazier can’t go. That situation holds at many positions.
• Very few newcomers are listed on this preseason depth chart. Transfers Lance Dixon at will linebacker, Deshawn Stevens at mike linebacker and Charles Woods at cornerback are the only players on this two-deep who weren’t with the Mountaineers in the spring. Odds are at least a few other newcomers who just enrolled at WVU this summer will find a way to crack the depth chart this season, possibly even before the Sept. 4 opener at Maryland.
• The “Ors” usually pique the most interest, as those are jobs that are definitely still up in air.
West Virginia lists six starting positions with “Ors” – right guard between Doug Nester and Jordan White, right tackle with Parker Moorer and John Hughes (though in reality Nester could also play tackle, while Moorer and Hughes could play guard), z-receiver between Sean Ryan and Isaiah Esdale, bandit between VanDarius Cowan and Jared Barlett, placekicker between Evan Staley and Tyler Sumpter, and long snapper between J.P. Hadley and Austin Brinkman.
Also, there are some backup jobs listed with “Ors” – defensive tackle between Jalen Thornton and Sean Martin, defensive tackle between Jordan Jefferson and Edward Vesterinen, defensive end between Lanell Carr and Taurus Simmons, middle linebacker between Deshawn Stevens and James Thomas, and left offensive tackle between Nick Malone and Ja’Quay Hubbard.
Certainly, the preseason depth chart isn’t an end point for the 2021 Mountaineers, but it is a starting point for the lineup in the season to come.