WVU football: Trickett takes field as a Mountaineer
MORGANTOWN - West Virginia opened the 2013 season Thursday with its first preseason practice and 102 out of the maximum 105 players on hand at Mountaineer Field.
One, in particular, will be a part of the spotlight until Coach Dana Holgorsen provides reason to divert the attention given to the quarterback position.
Clint Trickett, who transferred from Florida State after spring practice and is eligible to play the next two seasons, took part in his first official team activity 30 days before the Mountaineers open the season at home against William & Mary.
"He's good," Holgorsen said. "He's seasoned. He doesn't get nervous. You can tell he's got some game experience right now. He's got that look when he looks at me on the sideline, and I'm signalling, he stares right through me, but (the offense) isn't an automatic thing with him right now.
"But I'm not judging him on specific throws, checks or anything like that. I'm watching him operate, get the signals, communicate it to the offensive line and execute a play to where it resembles football."
Trickett spent three years and played two seasons with the Seminoles with two starts in 17 appearances. That is much more experience than junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress have. Childress sat out last season and Millard, who backed up Geno Smith and played in parts of 11 games the past two years, has attempted just 34 career passes.
Holgorsen said Trickett's disposition gives him a chance to join the quarterback competition right now.
"It's a presence," he said. "You throw a guy in there and he's taking snaps in the offense for the first time and if there's hesitation, panic, nervousness, a lack of communication, all that stuff, we've got a little bit of an issue. I knew he would handle that well. It's not something I'm concerned with with him, just because of the calmness he possesses.
"Ford and Paul possess that calmness right now, too, because they understand what's going on around them, but I think Clint can get in the mix to play because he has that in his personality."
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THE MOUNTAINEERS were three short of perfect attendance. Freshman linebacker Darrien Howard and freshman safety Isaac McDonald were not at practice. Holgorsen said both have eligibility issues being looked at by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
"No one's been ruled out," Holgorsen said.
The other 23 players who signed in the 2013 recruiting made it to campus, including junior college receiver Mario Alford, junior college defensive end Dontrill Hyman and junior college linebacker Brandon Golson. Those five players were the only recruits who weren't on campus for summer classes and workouts.
The only other absence was junior college defensive end d'Vante Henry, who has been on campus and in classes and team activities for several weeks. Holgorsen said Henry is "working on some personal issues."
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HOLGORSEN WAS excited about how his team literally looked on the first day.
"I think our guys are in phenomenal shape," he said. "Me and the staff have been talking about this since (Wednesday) when the guys came back, but it's been eight, nine weeks since we've seen them and this team continues to change as guys are added, which we feel like we've done a good job recruiting and getting guys in here who have a different body type to upgrade the level of athlete we bring in, but I think these guys look to us like they're in pretty good shape."
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WALK-ONS WILL arrive when school starts and Holgorsen said two of those will be place kickers, though it might not be necessary.
"Josh Lambert is our kicker," he said in as definitive a statement that a head coach will say on the first day of practice about a redshirt freshman. "We feel comfortable with Josh. We feel good about Josh. He is our kicker.
"I don't know if he's our kickoff guy. We'll figure that out."
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WEST VIRGINIA started practice with some punting drills, which meant the first action for junior college punter Nick O'Toole, who, on a day without shoulder pads, nevertheless fills out a jersey at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. O'Toole, a sophomore, averaged 41.8 yards on 49 punts last season at Fullerton (Calif.) College.
"He's a big, impressive looking guy who can flip the field on you in a hurry," Holgorsen said.
WVU also has junior Michael Molinari, who punted 30 times in 2011, and Houstin Syvertson, a freshman from Shady Spring High.
"I didn't even know we had a third punter, to be honest with you," Holgorsen said. "I pay attention to the specialists when they do well, or, unfortunately, when they do bad. Then I lose my mind."
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FRESHMAN INSIDE receiver Sheldon Gibson tweaked his knee last week and didn't practice. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Adam Pankey was also out as he continues to rehabilitate a torn ACL. Holgorsen said both are progressing faster than expected.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.