WVU 2021 Football Outlook: Specialists

WVU's Evan Staley kicks off

The Mountaineers utilized a number of specialists in 2020, as injuries and performance issues brought about revolving doors at both placekicker and punter.

The good news for WVU is most of its specialists return this coming season, though now it is searching for more consistency from them.


Returning – Evan Staley (K), Casey Legg (K), Tyler Sumpter (P/K), Danny King (P/K), Kolton McGhee (P), Evan Matthes (P), J.P. Hadley (LS), Austin Brinkman (LS), Graeson Malashevich (H)
Departing – Kyle Poland (LS)
Already Enrolled Newcomers – none
Scholarship Newcomer Enrolling In The Summer – none currently signed

The most significant loss among West Virginia’s specialists from the ‘20 season is long snapper Kyle Poland. The Morgantown native, who became a father earlier this week when his wife Katie gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, had a very good senior season and now is trying to find a spot in an NFL preseason camp.

The Mountaineers still have two long snappers on the roster – J.P. Hadley (6-2, 250 lbs., Soph.) and Austin Brinkman (6-4, 210 lbs., Fr.) – who will now compete for the opportunity to succeed Poland. Both are currently walk-ons, though if the past is any indication of the future, the one who wins the starting long snapper job will have a chance of being awarding a scholarship.

Hadley, who is from Lacey, New Jersey, has been a member of the WVU football program for three years, though he has not yet seen any game action. He did hold the No. 2 spot behind Poland all of last season, and now will be looking to move up to the starting long snapper position.

Though further candidates are likely to be added to the roster before the start of the 2021 season, Hadley’s primary competition this spring for long snapping duty will be Brinkman. A native of Bel Air, Maryland, Brinkman was also a quarterback and defensive back while at The John Carroll School, but he is concentrating on long snapping at WVU.

Besides long snapper, West Virginia’s other specialists return this season.

Tyler Sumpter (510, 220 lbs., Sr.) and Kolton McGhee (6-0, 190 lbs., RFr.) split the punting duties for the Mountaineers in 2020.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Sumpter spent the first four years of his college career at Troy, three of them playing for Neal Brown. Brown took the head coaching job at WVU in 2019, and Sumpter followed him to Morgantown a year later. He handled most of the Mountaineers’ punting duties in ’20, when he averaged 40.5 yards on his 37 boots. Of those, 19 were fair caught and 16 wound up inside the 20-yard line with a long kick of 56 yards. Sumpter, who already holds his bachelor’s degree in elementary education, is taking advantage of the NCAA rule that allowed all of last season’s fall student-athletes to play in 2020 without using a year’s eligibility. He’s now going to be a sixth-year senior in ’21.

Sumpter’s performance last season was erratic enough that West Virginia’s coaches also gave McGhee an opportunity in four games. The Altoona, Pennsylvania, punted nine times in those games, averaging 39.7 yards per kick with a long of 51 yards. Five of his punts were fair caught, and four ended up inside the 20.

McGhee and Sumpter are both on scholarship. They’ll get competition for the punting duties from a walk-on, Evan Matthes (6-1, 216 lbs., Soph.).

Sumpter also got a chance to do some placekicking at WVU last season, which he had done at Troy as well. He made three of four field goals over the course of West Virginia’s final two games in 2020. His makes came from 36, 33 and 31 yards, while the miss was from 37.

Sumpter’s opportunity on field goals and extra points came because Mountaineers’ starting placekicker, Evan Staley (6-1, 200 lbs., Sr.), was injured midway through the season, and his backup, Casey Legg (6-4, 221 lbs., Soph.), became a little too inconsistent for Brown’s liking.

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A native of Romney, West Virginia, Staley took over WVU’s placekicking duties as a redshirt freshman midway through his 2017 season. Over the next four years, he converted 39 of 49 field goals plus 115 of 116 extra points. Last season he made six of nine field goals, including five of seven from inside 49 yards with a long of 45 yards. He also handled most of the Mountaineers’ kickoffs until he was sidelined after sustaining a knee injury while trying to make a tackle after a kickoff against Kansas State on Oct. 31. Staley had surgery to repair his injury. His availability for spring practice is uncertain, but he’s expected to be 100% by the fall when he’ll be a sixth-year senior.

Legg stepped in for the injured Staley last season, just as he had done in 2019 as well, when Staley suffered a pulled groin muscle. A soccer player at Cross Lanes Christian High School, which didn’t field a football program, Legg’s first-ever gridiron performance came at WVU. He made two of four field goals as a redshirt freshman in 2019, including a 51-yarder that was key in the Mountaineers’ 24-20 victory at Kansas State. The accounting major made five of seven field goals when he filled in for Staley last season with a long of 45 yards.

Staley, Legg and Sumpter will be competing for the placekicking job this coming season, but they better keep an eye over their shoulder on Danny King (5-11, 175 lbs., RFr.), who practiced last fall with the Mountaineers but didn’t see any game action.

West Virginia kicker Casey Legg nails the first extra point of his football life
West Virginia kicker Casey Legg

King was a very good quarterback and defensive back, as well as a basketball player, for Fort Hill High School in Cumberland, Maryland, but it was his punting and placekicking performances that caught the eyes of major colleges.

Like many specialists, King’s road in college is beginning as a walk-on, but it can lead to a scholarship if he earns the top spot.

Graeson Malashevich (5-9, 179 lbs., RFr.) was the holder for West Virginia’s placements last season, and he is expected to handle those duties again this year again. The Ceredo, West Virginia, native also is used as a slot receiver. McGhee backed up Malashevich at holder in 2020 and can do so again in 2021.


Home Page forums WVU 2021 Football Outlook: Specialists

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    The Mountaineers utilized a number of specialists in 2020, as injuries and performance issues brought about revolving doors at both placekicker and pu
    [See the full post at: WVU 2021 Football Outlook: Specialists]


    Thought I saw where Austin Brinkman put his name in the Portal?


    I have not seen anything about Brinkman, who is a walk-on, being in the portal. I just looked to make sure, and he is still listed on WVU’s roster. All others who have entered the transfer portal or otherwise left the team have been quickly removed from that roster, so I’d say the odds are great that at this point Brinkman is still a Mountaineers.


    As of this morning, Brinkman is not in the portal. Where did you see this?


    Reported on another site last month.  Isn’t everything you read on the internet true?

    That’s why I ask the experts.


    Did Kaulin Parris transfer?



    I do not believe Parris actually ever joined the program last summer. I never saw him, and he was never listed as being a member of the team. It’s not unusual for a walk-on to have such a change of heart.


    I was just curious, because his Twitter page still says he’s a K/P at WVU

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Home Page forums WVU 2021 Football Outlook: Specialists

Home Page forums WVU 2021 Football Outlook: Specialists