Coach Dana Holgorsen has stated that he probably redshirted a couple of freshmen last year that he wishes he hadn't. This year coaches are watching for all players with the talent, desire and work ethic to help make this year's team special on offense, defense and special teams regardless of their class.
Listed here are some of those new players already identified that may have an impact on the success of WVU's first year in the Big 12! Those five highlighted are currently listed in the two-deep roster, which changes from day to day. The coaches have given public praise to all 10 of those listed here since the start of fall camp.
I hope you enjoy learning a little bit about them as much as I did researching each one of them. These kids can flat out play!
This high school running back enrolled in January to take advantage of spring practice. Jordan Thompson was an undersized, under recruited ball of fire from Katy, Texas. After being convinced to move to inside receiver a la Tavon Austin, he turned heads in the WVU spring game.
At 5'7", 166 lbs, Jordan Thompson wasn't going to run over anyone as a running back but was very elusive. He agreed to switch to inside receiver and quickly showed his speed and talent. Thompson has good hands, quickness and an ability to get open.
Training coach Mike Joseph helped him bulk up to 173 pounds and increase his speed. What an awesome addition to Austin and Bailey! Look for this true freshman to receive substantial playing time this year.
As of Tuesday, 8/10/2012, Karl Joseph, a 5'10", 196-pound freshman from Orlando is listed behind Darwin Cook at buck safety. Joseph has been praised by the defensive coaches for his hard hitting and nose for the ball. He was rated last year as one of the top 100 recruits in Florida. Expect Joseph to make an impact at the safety position.
The 6'1", 200-pound K.J. Dillon from Apopka, Fla. made a big hit and had two interceptions in Thursday's scrimmage.
"He's going to play," Holgorsen said via wvmetronews.com. "His job is to try and push for a starting job."
Another true freshman making a difference, Dillon helps create depth in the defensive backfield. Dillon's exploits were highlighted in Mike Casazza's column in Friday's Daily Mail.
Isaiah Bruce is a 6'1", 226-pound redshirt freshman from Jacksonville, Fla. He redshirted in 2011, and is now running second behind Doug Rigg on the depth chart at sam linebacker. He's expected to provide valuable depth in 2012.
Bruce was quoted by John Antonik, director of new media at WVUsports.com in an interview on 7/20/2012. Bruce said his teammates are well aware of the challenges they will have trying to slow down some of the best offenses in the country in the Big 12 this fall.
And West Virginia is going to see a variety of offenses as well—high-powered passing attacks like Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, power-running attacks like Texas, TCU and Kansas State, and a little bit of everything from Oklahoma and Baylor.
Bruce also says what they go up against every day trying to defend Dana Holgorsen’s offense is no walk in the park, either.
“Just going against our offense is not easy, and that is definitely preparing us for what is to come,” he said.
While not currently listed in the two-deep roster, the following freshmen are in the mix for playing time:
Brandon Napolean: 5'11", 190 lbs, DB, freshman from Rahway, NJ
Nana Kyeremeh: 5'11", 170 lbs, CB, freshman from Worthington, OH
Ricky Rumph: 5'10", 175 lbs, CB, freshman from Daytona Beach, FL
Tyler Orloskey: 6'4", 285 lbs, OL, freshman from Cleveland, OH
Adam Pankey: 6'5", 332 lbs, OL, freshman from Hamilton, OH
The two-deep roster is adjusted daily by the coaching staff, but each of these freshmen have been identified by their coaches as standing out in practice. Keep an eye out for any or all of these five to end up with playing time when WVU opens the 2012 season against Marshall!
What do you think? Reader comments welcome and appreciated!