MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - As position battles persist while West Virginia completes the final week of preseason football camp, Coach Dana Holgorsen is taking advantage of depth at some positions to bolster others.
Holgorsen said at his news conference Monday linebacker Garrett Hope and center Stone Underwood have changed positions. Hope, a sophomore, is now a fullback while Underwood, a junior college transfer who had been at center, is now a guard.
"We're looking for guys who consistently put a couple good days together," said Holgorsen, who added that the Mountaineers aren't ready to name any starters and will use the entirety of camp, which ends Saturday. "We're starting to figure out who those guys are. If guys have a bad day, they need to regroup pretty quickly if they want to be in the hunt for a starting job or a backup role."
Underwood's move isn't drastic or even unexpected, and not just because WVU usually trains its guards to play center and centers to play guard. Underwood played center during the 2011 season at Southeastern Louisiana and last season at Mississippi's Copiah-Lincoln Community College, but he enrolled at WVU in May, three weeks after the Mountaineers completed spring practice.
"It's tough to come in at center without spring practice, without a year under your belt," Holgorsen said. "The physicality of the game is different from what he's used to. The added pressure of making calls, the added pressure of snapping as well as just the physical battles you've got to play each and every snap, it's hard."
The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Underwood is a junior, but he hasn't used a redshirt year. Holgorsen said that remains a possibility, but that the move was meant to help the offensive line, which has 10 players working the five positions.
"We needed a body at guard on the second team and physically he's doing good things and making progress," Holgorsen said. "We felt like it was more important he make progress for us at guard then at canter."
Holgorsen said Tyler Orlosky has "the upper hand" at center over Tony Matteo.
"We're talking about two redshirt freshmen there," Holgorsen said. "They both have a lot of growing to do."
Hope played in 12 games last season with regular duty on special teams and increasing responsibilities on defense at the Buck position. He moved inside to the Will position in the spring, but was back outside at Buck again early in this camp.
The 6-3, 245-pound Hope joins 6-3, 250-pound sophomore Cody Clay and 6-2, 235-pound freshman Eli Wellman as fullback types. WVU continues to diversify that position with players like Clay, Wellman, 6-6, 250-pound redshirt freshman Will Johnson and 6-4, 230-pound walk-on freshman Quincy Redmon.
Clay can play inside receiver, tight end and fullback while Wellman is more blocker than receiver and Johnson and Redmon are more receiver than blocker. Hope figures to more closely resemble Wellman, who has pleased coaches since arriving from Spring Valley High School.
"He's much like Cody in that you'll tell him to go block back on the defensive end and he'll do it 48 times in a row for you and crack his head open if you let him," Holgorsen said. "We moved Garrett there to alleviate some of that."
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