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WVU football: Freshman receives preseason accoloades

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Freshman receiver Jordan Thompson seems ready to join Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey in West Virginia's starting lineup. He's now getting preseason accolades to match his elders.

Bruce Feldman, of CBSSports.com, ranked Thompson sixth on a list of the top best freshmen for fantasy football purposes during the 2012 season.

"I like Bruce, but I'm going to have to disagree with him on that one," said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who said he didn't know about the list even though Feldman quoted Dawson in the passage about Thompson. "How can you tell if a kid's sixth-best when he's never played a snap? That's tough.

"To take it to another level, how is he the sixth-best kid when he wasn't highly recruited? There are a lot of guys more highly recruited who you could probably put above him."

Thompson, from Katy, Texas, didn't have a Division I scholarship offer before WVU's arrived, but is nevertheless the presumed starter at the inside H position. Austin played that spot last season and set a school record with 101 receptions. The 5 foot, 7 inch Thompson caught 66 passes for 1,117 yards and 17 touchdowns as a high school senior.

"Now, if he starts to do it in a game and produces in the game and proves that, then at the end of the year you can say he was one of the better guys," Dawson said.

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REDSHIRT FRESHMAN cornerback Terrell Chestnut, who missed last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery, has figured a few things out the past few days. He began working out Tuesday as the team's No. 1 nickel back.

That position is separate from cornerback and combines the responsibilities of different positions in the defensive backfield.

"He plays inside and you can hide him a little more," cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts said. "He's isolated on the outside, so vertical routes on the outside are all yours."

The 6-foot, 180-pound Chestnut is one of only two four-star cornerbacks the Mountaineers have signed in the past 10 years - the other is Vernard Roberts, who was also a part of the 2011 class and never played for the Mountaineers.

Chestnut is bigger than the rest of his group, which may suite him well at nickel back and even deeper in the defensive backfield in the future.

"He's a heavier guy who played safety in high school and may end up being a safety at some point here," Roberts said. "We'll see how he can contribute, but I think he's taken on nickel really well."

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WVU SENIOR Will Clarke's ability to lead by example as never been questioned. What had observers curious was how the soft-spoken Clarke would rally his teammates with words.

It's apparently happening near the end of his final preseason camp.

"He's becoming more vocal," defensive line coach Erik Slaughter said. "That's not his typical personality, so he has to do something that is out of character for him. He is really stepping up with the young guys, too. He is not just a defensive line leader - he is a team leader. He has the voice of this entire football team."

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CLARKE HAS 11 career starts and Jorge Wright has 13. Ideally, the 6-7, 275-pound Clarke would be the defensive tackle in the 3-4 alignment and the 6-2, 290-pound Wright would be the nose guard. Yet Clarke has played end in the past and could do so now while Wright can play tackle and someone like Shaq Rowell or freshman Christian Brown could play nose.

Slaughter has been pleased enough with recent progress that he decided to add a degree of difficulty to practice and have his players learn a new spot so they could add to the interchangeable parts already in place.

"There has been a learning curve the last couple days," Slaughter said. "We felt like they were comfortable where they were. You want to put different combos on the field because you don't want to be stuck. These are some bigger guys.

"For instance, the offense was doing the two-minute drill the other day. When you have 300-pound nose tackles, it is not smart to use them, so you have to go smaller."

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THE OFFENSIVE LINE rotation hasn't changed very much lately, if at all. Quinton Spain and Pat Eger remain projected starters at tackle, Josh Jenkins and Jeff Braun are at guard and Joe Madsen is at center.

Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh trusts Nick Kindler and Curtis Feigt as backup tackles on the left and right, respectively, and believes Spain and Eger could move inside to guard. Braun could play center and John Bassler would be a third option in the middle.

Bedenbaugh continues to work with freshmen Adam Pankey and Tyler Orlosky and redshirt freshman Brandon Jackson at guard, but is beginning to learn more about junior college transfer Mark Glowinski as an option at tackle.

The 6-5, 300-pound Glowinski played the previous two years at Lackawanna (Pa.) College and was a second team all-American last year.

"You can see the progression," Bedenbaugh said. "He is unbelievably talented and he has the athleticism. He has everything you can want in a lineman.

"Right now, he doesn't sit great at all, but he is still effective. At times, it can get him beat, but at times, it doesn't. You have to go out and prepare with the best technique for every single down, or you are going to get beat. But he is coming along."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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