WVU Football Practice Notebook: High Flying Punts And Low Flying Drones
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–On a grey, overcast Wednesday morning, West Virginia’s football team was inside Mountaineer Field working through one of its final full-contact sessions of fall camp.
The session started, as usual, with special teams work.
New punter Josh Growden was in uniform and joined freshmen Kolton McGhee and Leighton Bechdel in drills. A grad transfer from LSU, Growden arrived in Morgantown on Friday and began working out with his new team the next day. The left-footed Aussie sent high, hanging kicks consistently down field, but he was pretty much matched spiral for spiral by McGhee.
Growden is also holding on placements for field goal kickers Evan Staley and Casey Legg, though quarterbacks Trey Lowe and Jack Allison are doing so as well. One of the advantages of having a non-quarterback hold is that he is available to spend more time with the kickers, where quarterbacks have only about 10 minutes or so per practice to do so.
Throughout fall camp, Keith Washington, Sam James, Tevin Bush and Alec Sinkfield have rotated as kickoff returners, while Sinkfield, T.J. Simmons, Kennedy McKoy and Isaiah Esdale have been practicing as punt returners.
Rex Sunahara, who was WVU’s primary long snapper last year, is back for his senior season, though Kyle Poland is working there as well.
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A number of NFL scouts were in attendance at West Virginia’s practice on Wednesday, including those from the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears and Houston Texans.
They all rushed out onto the field to see Michigan grad transfer Rueben Jones in a one-on-one competition period battle with center Adam Stilley. The undersized sophomore walk-on offensive lineman from Martinsburg, West Virginia, earned the victory, much to the delight of his offensive compatriots, who in turn watched the defensive players do a series of up-downs.
Defensive lineman Jalen Thornton and offensive opponent James Gmiter had a spirited and fairly even battle.
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The Mountaineers scrimmaged the first offense vs. the first defense and then the second offense vs. the second defense for an extended period on Wednesday.
Those units featured some line-up shuffling, but WVU’s coaching staff asked that the media who were present not report specifics to the depth chart.
We’ll trying to get head coach Neal Brown to comment on those switches during this afternoon’s press conference.
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Members of West Virginia’s official video crew were using a drone to film portions of Wednesday’s practice.
WVU had tried that in past years as well but had to stop when it was informed that federal laws require specific permits to fly a drone at Mountaineer Field since it is within five miles of an airport.
According to a WVU staffer, those permits apparently have been obtained, though the need for them is somewhat comical since the drone never went higher than 40 feet.