West Virginia Football: Projecting the Mountaineers' 2013 Offensive Depth Chart
Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have been the collective face of the West Virginia football program for the past few seasons. Now, WVU will have to move on without them, further into the cutthroat Big 12 Conference for the 2013 campaign.
Next year's West Virginia squad will be represented by a bunch of new faces donning the gold and blue (and grey), starting in the backfield and spanning from sideline to sideline.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen and his staff will be charged with the task of replacing some of the greatest ever to attend WVU.
Here's a look at who they might choose to take the wheel of the Mountaineers supercharged V8 offense in 2013:
Starter: Tanner McEvoy
Backups: Ford Childress, Paul Millard
The competition to replace quarterback Geno Smith will be a crowded affair, and whoever wins the job will have some enormous shoes to fill.
As it stands right now, three quarterbacks will be left on the West Virginia roster when Smith departs—sophomore Paul Millard, freshman Ford Childress and junior Logan Moore.
Millard is the current backup to Smith and saw some limited action this season, throwing a pair of touchdowns and an interception. He made a few nice throws, but his play has been far too sporadic for him to earn the starting position.
Behind him is Childress, who didn't see any action this season to ensure the preservation of his redshirt. Right now, Childress looks like the quarterback of the future in Morgantown.
However, next year may not be his year. WVU is hot on the trail of junior college star Tanner McEvoy.
The former South Carolina Gamecock is the top uncommitted quarterback in the ESPN JC 100 and is reportedly (via Mike Farrell, SI.com) down to West Virginia and Oregon. As Farrell points out, the QB situation in Eugene is locked down by freshman Marcus Mariota, leaving WVU as the obvious choice for McEvoy.
McEvoy may be better as a runner than a passer, so West Virginia may be a beneficial situation for him if he wants to develop his arm to make it to the next level. Meanwhile, his athletic ability could also add a dimension to the WVU offense.
Right now, the Mountaineers' bread and butter is the stick/draw base offense. With his running ability added in, it could add more of a read option facet to the attack.
At 6'5", 215 pounds, McEvoy would be a great presence at the head of the West Virginia offense.
B Starter: Dreamius Smith
B Backups: Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison
A Starter: Cody Clay
I covered the running back slot more in depth earlier in the week. With Shawne Alston headed out the door, West Virginia will need a new power presence in the backfield.
Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison aren't going anywhere, and they'll still earn their touches next season.
However, as head coach Dana Holgorsen attested earlier in the year, neither Buie nor Garrison are physically suited to take on 15-20 carries per game.
Junior college transfer Dreamius Smith will be able to help out both of these little issues when he comes to Morgantown. Smith is the No. 1 JUCO running back, according to ESPN and at 220 pounds, he'll certainly have what it takes to fill in for Alston.
In addition to his big, powerful frame, he has plenty of speed and quickness in his arsenal as well.
In front of this group of backs will likely be Cody Clay. Clay began the year at receiver, but moved inside when the other "A" running backs suffered injuries. He has the athleticism and 256-pound frame necessary to move around the backfield and both pass block and pave the way for the Mountaineer ball carriers.
With all of these guys in the backfield together, the WVU running game should be in good hands once again.
Starters: K.J. Myers, Dante Campbell, Ronald Carswell, Kevin White
Backups: Jordan Thompson, Devonte Robinson, Devonte Mathis, Connor Arlia, Will Johnson
Speaking of good hands, the wide receiver position will be as wide open as any for West Virginia this season. The school's two most prolific receivers—Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey—will both head to the NFL. Also gone will be third option J.D. Woods and another senior in Ryan Nehlen.
Together, they represent 95 percent of WVU's 42 receiving touchdowns on the year.
Campbell and Myers will be the only two returners with a touchdown reception, while Thompson and Arlia are the only two other returners with a reception.
Neither Robinson nor Mathis recorded a reception in the 2012 regular season, but were highly-touted recruits and have the athleticism to make an impact next year.
Johnson, meanwhile, is the only hybrid tight end in the group after Clay's move to running back.
West Virginia will also add junior college prospects Carswell and White. Carswell is a quick, speedy receiver with a frame and skill set similar to that of Bailey, so he could do well in the slot or on the outside.
White, on the other hand, stands at 6'4" and will bring a physical presence to the position that the Mountaineers have lacked in recent years.
Additionally, WVU could also add a couple more JUCO receivers, Javess Blue or Jatavius Stewart. Either would be a great pickup for the Mountaineers and could very well break into that starting group if they end up in Morgantown.
Whoever is in Morgantown when the spring and summer roll around will be in a heated, crowded competition for the starting slots.
The good news here is that Holgorsen could end up using the whole lot of these pass-catchers on a rotating basis.
Starters: Quinton Spain, Pat Eger, Curtis Feigt, Nick Kindler, Russell Haugton-James
Backups: Brandon Jackson, Tyler Orlosky, Adam Pankey, Marquis Lucas, Marcell Lazard, Tyler Tezeno
West Virginia is set to take a big hit at the center position, losing Joe Madsen, the only player on the WVU roster with 50 starts under his belt. In addition to the departure of Madsen, WVU will also lose both of its guards, Jeff Braun and Josh Jenkins.
However, despite these losses, the Mountaineers won't be completely barren on the offensive line. Spain, Eger, Feigt and Kindler will all bring starting experience back in 2013, while Haughton-James and Jackson both saw the field in a very limited capacity in 2012.
Looking at WVU's recent behavior regarding the position, the four with starting experience will likely anchor the line, with the remaining blockers coming in on a rotating basis.
West Virginia has been slow to throw its young linemen out to the wolves, which is certainly a good idea considering the incredible amount of talent along the defensive front in the Big 12.
A couple of new offensive line prospects will join the fold for WVU going into the season, and while there is some chance that they could crack the rotation, it is much more likely that the Mountaineers will stick with their experienced blockers.
Given the inconsistencies of the incumbents, however, I won't be too surprised if newcomers Marcell Lazard and Tyler Tezeno end up seeing the field in 2013.