Granted, it was only the first day in pads, but Wednesday’s Mountaineers practice was absent a couple of ancillary figures key to the West Virginia tweaked-spread offense.
Will Johnson, converting from receiver to tight end-fullback-H-back-you-name-it, missed practice because of a sprained left foot, which he termed minor.
“It’s not real serious,” said Johnson, a sophomore who has added more than 25 pounds since last season. “Just take a couple of days.”
Redshirt freshman Bradley Starks, working at receiver in addition to quarterback (and a lot of players are converting under new Coach Bill Stewart’s tent, huh?), sat out a second consecutive day because of what offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen described as a kind of groin-hamstring injury. Again, nothing too major.
Starks had been toiling with the first team thus far, mostly to acclimate him to the position.
“Bradley Starks at the core is a quarterback,” Mullen said. “He’s just one of our fastest football players. We’re not going to let him sit on the bench when he could catch some screens. . . .”
If Patrick White – and Jarrett Brown and West Virginia overall – will be throwing more often this fall, Johnson and Starks could well become critical primary and secondary targets, respectively.
Other tidbits from Mountaineer Field Wednesday evening:
· Cornerback Ellis Lankster, who maintained that he earned his junior-college All-America status on punt returns, has been working with safety Quinton Andrews on returning punts to date. Lankster, by the way, dropped nearly 20 pounds just so he could dabble as a returner -- a promise he forged with Stewart. Andrews talked openly Wednesday about changing his “hothead” ways (his words) from early in his Mountaineers career, but we’ll delve into that at a later time.
· Brandon Hogan, the sophomore slotback who converted to cornerback just Saturday, continues to impress. “Him being a rookie, his first five days, he’s showed a lot,” Lankster said.
· Noseguard Pat Liebig, 25, who is appealing for a sixth year of eligibility after taking off 18 months to return home to Florida to help his ailing father, still hasn’t heard officially from the NCAA about his eligibility. The hanging news has prompted his defensive linemates to dub him Brett Favre. “We tried to pay him not to come back,” teased tackle Scooter Berry, citing part of the wacky story arc involving the Green Bay quarterback/retiree/trade bait.