WVU’s Wideouts Still Searching To Fill Roles

West Virginia’s Receivers Remain A Work In Progress At Midway Point Of Fall Drills

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Tyron Carrier’s group has a lot on the platter for the remainder of fall camp.

The receivers lost Shelton Gibson, who amassed 43 receptions for 951 yards and scored eight touchdowns in 2016, to the NFL Draft, and are still sans Jovon Durante, who is dealing with a personal issue and has yet to report to camp.  They might also be without Marcus Simms, who was arrested and charged for a DUI on Sunday.

The absences mean West Virginia lacks a proven pure vertical threat at wideout, though with players like David Sills and Ka’Ruan White potentially filling that role, Carrier looks to get the most out of his unit.

“I think they’re still getting their legs back a little bit.” Carrier said. “Just the whole grind of camp they’re starting to adapt to, that’s probably one of the things that’s caught my attention. Just paying attention to detail and starting to know what they do in certain situations, certain coverages, and whatnot.”

With junior Will Grier taking over at quarterback this year, another one of Carrier’s jobs is getting his receivers on the same page as talented signal caller.

“Timing, for me, is technique,” Carrier said. “You have to make the quarterback comfortable so that he knows exactly what you’re doing. I’ll tell the quarterback the indicators they’re going to do or I’ll ask him, ‘What do they need to do to let you know that they’re making their break or tell you they’re about to get separation?’

“Me and Grier talked and we agreed upon it. So, I relay the message to those guys, which is exactly what I teach every receiver on how to give the quarterback indication that you’re making your break or you’re about to get open or you’re about to run the route like this. It’s a work in progress. That’s the biggest thing. That timing aspect comes from the receiver doing stuff that helps the quarterback look for him.”

The Mountaineers appeared to have a clear cut top four in Sills, White, Gary Jennings and Simms, with the latter’s availability now in question. But at 6-foot-5, junior Dominique Maiden is a prime candidate to exploit red zone defenses via the fade. In two years at Riverside City College, Maiden was named to the Southern California Football Association All-Central League First Team in 2016, recording 36 receptions for 480 yards and eight touchdowns.

“He’s definitely physical,” Carrier said. “It’s just the whole point of understanding how to craft that position. So, at the beginning, he was going through a lot of the growing pains with it, which is learning how to do it on a consistent basis. As a group, that second team is starting to pick it up and you’re starting to notice a lot of plays being made.”

One of Carrier’s more interesting tasks is the development of junior William Crest Jr. He spent the last two years as a reserve quarterback, running back, and wide receiver for West Virginia. However, this year marks the first season where he will solely play wide receiver.

“He’s getting better and he asks a ton of questions, which is a good thing.” Carrier said. “He’s not afraid to ask those small questions that most guys know. He’s new to that position. He’s very focused, learning a lot, and just yesterday he made a beautiful, one-handed grab. I think he’s a kid that’s going to get to the point where we’re going to have to use him a lot this season.”