West Virginia’s football roster has been updated, as the 2000 season fades away and preparations are underway for the 2021 campaign.
There were no major surprises in the roster transition, save one – running back Alec Sinkfield is no longer a Mountaineer.
The 5-foot-9, 193-pound junior from Boynton Beach, Florida, entered the transfer portal Friday morning, and his days at WVU have come to an end.
Sinkfield was second on the team in rushing this past season, netting 327 yards, which was second behind Leddie Brown’s 1,010. Sinkfield totaled 436 rushing yards over the past three seasons, and he also had 18 receptions for an additional 117 yards. In addition, he served as West Virginia’s primary punt returner the past two seasons, returning 28 kicks for 139 yards in that time with a long of 22 yards.
Sinkfield’s departure leaves WVU looking for a backup to Brown at running back this coming season. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Brown had already announced that he plans to return in 2021 for his fourth-year junior season, so West Virginia still has its lead back but now will be looking for depth. Redshirt freshmen Tony Mathis and A’Varius Sparrow will compete for that No. 2 slot this spring. Both played in a handful of games this past season. Mathis recorded 55 rushing yards on 18 attempts, and Sparrow gained 10 yards on three carries. They’ll be joined in the backfield in the fall by a pair of class of 2021 signees in Jaylen Anderson and Justin Johnson.
Anderson and Johnson won’t enter WVU until the summer, but nine of their future teammates from this recent signing class enrolled at the University for the spring semester, which began on Jan. 19. Quarterback Goose Crowder, tight end Treylan Davis, defensive lineman Brayden Dudley, defensive back Davis Mallinger, wide receiver Kaden Prather, defensive linemen Edward Vesterinen, defensive lineman Victor Wikstrom, defensive back Andrew Wilson-Lamp and offensive lineman Doug Nester (who is a transfer from Virginia Tech) are all enrolled at WVU, thus getting a jumpstart on their academic work and also participating in spring workouts.
The Mountaineers’ 2021 football roster does not yet feature these nine newcomers, but sources confirm all nine are already enrolled in classes at WVU for the current semester.
These newcomers will be joined in West Virginia’s on-going strength and conditioning training, and eventually in spring practice, by five sixth-year seniors who are taking advantage of the NCAA rule that did not count the 2020 season in terms of eligibility for any fall sports student-athletes. Safety Sean Mahone, defensive end Jeffery Pooler, placekicker Evan Staley, punter Tyler Sumper and safety Alonzo Addae are taking advantage of this additional year of eligibility and are returning for the ‘21 season.
Every 2020 Mountaineer could have utilized that extra year of eligibility, but other than the five, most of last season’s seniors chose to move on. Linebacker Jake Abbott, offensive lineman Chase Behrndt, safety Dante Bonamico, offensive lineman Michael Brown, offensive lineman Zach Davis, linebacker Tony Fields, safety Jake Long, longsnapper Kyle Poland, wide receiver T.J. Simmons, defensive lineman Darius Stills, linebacker Dylan Tonkery and quarterback Austin Kendall were all seniors this past season but do not plan on returning to WVU in ‘21. A couple could seek to play college football somewhere else next season – Kendall is in the transfer portal and has said he’s unsure if he’ll play next fall but does want to keep his options open – but a majority are moving on, either hoping for a chance to play professionally or just advancing with life.
There are a number of other former Mountaineer scholarship players in the transfer portal besides Sinkfield and Kendall. Defensive lineman Bryce Brand, wide receiver Ali Jennings, defensive lineman Quay Mays, linebacker Charlie Benton, defensive back Tae Mayo, offensive lineman Junior Uzebu, wide receiver Zach Dobson and defensive back Tacorey Turner all were with West Virginia for at least part of last season and all are now in the transfer portal. Benton (UAB) and Uzebu (Vanderbilt) are the only ones who so far have confirmed a landing spot for their transfer.
Outside of Sinkfield’s entry into the transfer portal, none of the other roster changes came as a surprise.
Of course in today’s every-changing world, there’s always a chance for further roster movement. As of this moment, though, all of WVU’s other scholarship players with eligibility remaining, besides those listed above, are members of the 2021 Mountaineers.