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WVU football: Holgorsen close to QB decision

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The three-quarterback competition to be named West Virginia's starter is approaching its conclusion.

WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said he'll crown either Paul Millard, Clint Trickett or Ford Childress by the end of the week - though he'll likely keep that decision private.

The Mountaineers conclude their 19-practice preseason camp Saturday.

"To be fair to all of them involved, we have (two) more days to let them play, and I've said since the beginning of camp if you have a bad day, you need to prepare to come out and have a good day," Holgorsen said Thursday. "I anticipate by the end of practice Saturday to be 100-percent sure of the direction we are going to go."

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INSIDE RECEIVER Cody Clay joined an expanding list of players to pick up injuries during camp.

The former George Washington star was labeled day-to-day by Holgorsen with a hamstring problem. Receivers Kevin White, Jordan Thompson and Dante Campbell have all been limited to minimal practice time recently. Before that, freshman Shelton Gibson was slowed by a knee injury and junior college running back Dreamius Smith missed practices with a thigh bruise.

Defensively, linebackers Wes Tonkery and Jared Barber have missed time with injuries.

In addition to cornerback Nana Kyeremeh, who has already had surgery to correct the season-ending shoulder problem, linebacker Jewone Snow and offensive lineman Adam Pankey are the only players out for an extended amount of time. WVU remains hopeful that Pankey, who is coming back from an ACL surgery, can play this season. Holgorsen called him "month-to-month" and the oft-injured Snow "year-to-year."

"It seems like he's always got something wrong," Holgorsen said. "He's not out there. I don't know if he's ever going to get back."

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RECEIVERS CONNOR ARLIA and Will Johnson have both left the team. They were inside receivers, where Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson have aimed their ire this week.

Arlia, a junior who was a two-time all-state player at Weirton Madonna, was a bright spot in the spring game, but is perhaps known more for the Jet Ski accident a few days before the 2011 Orange Bowl. Arlia broke a leg and two ribs, bruised a lung and lacerated a kidney, but recovered to play in nine games and catch seven passes for 43 yards last season.

Johnson, a 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman from Minnesota, didn't play last season.

"Great kids," Holgorsen said. "They just wanted to play, so I will release them (from their scholarship) to go anywhere they want to go to be able to get themselves in a position to be able to play ball."

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Freshman Isaac McDonald, an accomplished safety from Florida, has been academically approved by the NCAA's Eligibility Center and will be on campus as soon as today.

The 6-5, 200-pound McDonald was a two-time Miami Herald All-Dade County second-team linebacker. He had 68 tackles, including 18 tackles for loss and seven sacks, as a senior. McDonald was also offered a scholarship by Clemson, Louisville, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon, South Carolina and Stanford.

Holgorsen couldn't update the status of still unapproved freshman Darrien Howard, a linebacker from Ohio who the coaches project as a defensive lineman in college. Junior college linebacker d'Vante Henry, who was with the team in the summer, but left for personal reasons before the start of camp, is still missing from practice.

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COACHES WILL COMPOSE depth charts for offense, defense and special teams this weekend. That will define roles for first-year players and Holgorsen didn't mention many freshmen.

Receiver Dakiel Shorts, who has moved from outside to inside to fix the problem there, and running back Wendell Smallwood "will play," according to Holgorsen, though both have been on campus since January. The rest, who arrived in the summer, aren't so secure.

"I'd be shocked if (cornerback) Daryl Worley doesn't have a big role on defense or special teams," Holgorsen said. "(Safety) Jeremy Tyler has really shown some things that are impressive. (Linebacker) Al-Rasheed Benton is a 250-pound, mature kid that's shown some signs of life."

Holgorsen excluded freshman Elijah Wellman, from Cabell Midland High, though WVU is just now practicing without the departed Johnson.

"Moving Garrett Hope there has alleviated some of the need for him," Holgorsen said. "He's shown some signs of being a really good player for us. Whether we want to waste a year or him being a third-team fullback, that decision hasn't been made."

Holgorsen said some of the nine junior college transfers could redshirt this season, but that others have a chance to play.

"(Receiver) Mario Alford is showing signs of doing things," he said. "Kevin White is not redshirting. He's a big guy who's ready to go. Dreamius Smith has shown some good things."

* * *

HOLGORSEN ACCEPTED BLAME for the reaction to comments he made last week about how a lack of leadership was an "issue" for the 2012 team.

A variety of subsequent reports and vague player quotes were used to project Holgorsen's criticism onto Geno Smith. Holgorsen later defended his former quarterback and said his words were misconstrued, but Smith's new coach, Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, ridiculed WVU for targeting Smith.

"All that falls on my shoulders," Holgorsen said. "It was taken way out of context. The bottom line is I was referencing our 2012 team not having enough leaders and that's one thing that we've taken into account this year. We've been working on that since January.

"We are developing a whole roomful of leaders. That's how you win a championship. You don't win a championship with just one or two guys that you look to. You win one with a whole roomful of leaders that take the bull by the horns and say, 'We're going to do some special things.' I like where we're at right now."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at or 304-319-1142. His blog is at



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