WVU Football: Why Did Three-Star Freshman Running Back Leave?

Michael Walker@michaelwalkerwvAnalyst IIAugust 27, 2012

Photo credit: WV Illustrated
Photo credit: WV Illustrated

Why did WVU three-star freshman running back Torry Clayton suddenly leave the team last week? The school would only confirm that Clayton left voluntarily.

The loss of Clayton means there are no scholarship running backs left in the 2012 class. Clayton and Roshard Burney were the only two scholarship running back signees in WVU's 2012 class. Burney was also a three-star prospect but failed to qualify academically.

Clayton was not listed on the three-deep roster last week, and had not been mentioned in reports coming from camp. WVU's current roster lists a senior and two sophomores on the depth chart.

The three, Shawne Alston, Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison are all proven backs with significant playing time.

Garrison's status is still slightly uncertain as he tries to prove he has recovered from ACL surgery in December. He could be red-shirted which would create an opportunity for an additional back to receive playing time.

Coach Gillespie touted Garrison's toughness, but input from the medical staff is needed to determine if he is healed enough to play without unnecessary risk of further injury and able to contribute at this point in his recovery.

All freshmen have an opportunity to play under Coach Holgorsen, provided they can earn the spot. Therein may lie a hint as to why Clayton left.

Last Monday, Mike Cassasa of the Charleston Daily Mail quoted running backs coach Robert Gillespie praising freshman running back D'Vontis Arnold. Coach Gillespie said,"He's a kid that deserves to be mentioned."

Arnold, a 5'9" 185 pound preferred walk-on from Mirimar High in South Florida caught the coaches' attention with his performance in the previous Satuday's practice. Coach Gillespie told Cassasa that Arnold wouldn't ordinarily have been even discussed until next spring.

Arnold impressed coaches enough for them to discuss whether he could contribute this year and avoid a red shirt. Having Arnold singled out for that status instead of Clayton may be the reason for the latter's departure. 

As the only other freshman running back, that would have meant a certain red shirt for Clayton.


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