Welcome to the latest installment of our spring practice stock report, as we continue to hammer out what this fall's West Virginia football squad may look like.
Snowy weather cut the Mountaineers' second week of practice short, after which they took some additional time off for spring break.
Because of all of that, there is a decent amount of news to report this week.
So, let's jump right in and see who is rising and falling in the WVU 2013 spring practice.
And just as a reminder, the West Virginia Gold-Blue spring game will take place on April 20.
Returning junior quarterback Paul Millard isn't exactly the trendy pick to be the Mountaineers' 2013 starting quarterback.
However, despite not being the pick amongst WVU fans, nearly all reports out of spring practice have favored Millard over his two competitors—Ford Childress and Chavas Rawlins.
The latest report of Millard's success came from Geoff Coyle of WVIllustrated:
While the rest of the team was stretching, the quarterbacks took to the net in the end zone to rotate through, tossing three balls apiece at the targets ahead. Paul Millard threw the tightest spirals and was the most consistently on target of the three, while Chavas Rawlins frequently missed the entire net altogether.
While things may be looking up for Millard now, this race is far from over—and whoever wins the job in the summer will still have to keep it on the field through the fall.
Darwin Cook's junior campaign wasn't quite as successful as planned, leaving some room for improvement in 2013.
According to head coach Dana Holgorsen, Cook is poised to make that jump in his senior season. At the same time, Holgorsen wants to make sure that he stays committed to improvement (via WVUSports.com):
Cook looks totally different than a year ago. We like what we are seeing out of him...He took offseason more serious. A lot of the guys' lights turn on when they become seniors as well. So far so good. Don’t print too many good things about him because then he will think he has things figured out which is far from that.
Although he may still have some work to do, now could be a great time to buy for Cook, as he could be making a big impact this fall.
New running backs coach JaJuan Seider has his hands full with a tight competition in the West Virginia backfield.
However, when he was asked about how the competition was going during Week 3 of spring practice, he quickly skimmed over the running back situation to talk about his fullback, Cody Clay (via Brian Kuppelweiser, WVUSports.com):
The guy I really like right now is Cody Clay. He is competing his butt off. He is doing a lot of stuff for us...The kid is just doing everything. He is playing attached, detached, blocking and catching the ball. I am really impressed with what he is doing.
WVU hasn't had a lot of production from the fullback position since the arrival of Dana Holgorsen. However, if Clay continues to show versatility and toughness at the position, that trend could change in 2013.
A transfer from nearby Fairmont State, Logan Moore was the fourth horse in the WVU quarterback race.
However, it appears as though the athletic redshirt junior may be sliding over to inside receiver.
He has already taken some reps at the position this spring, and according to offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, he may say at IR for the foreseeable future (via Brian Kuppelweiser, WVUSports.com):
It could be a permanent thing. We are thin at receiver. We are trying to create some depth at inside receiver. We put him out there a couple times with no reps and no meeting time, and he did some good things. We are just giving him an opportunity. He is a smart, athletic and competitive kid. Why not give him an opportunity to get on the field.
In this offense, there can never really be too much depth at the receiver position, so this could end up being a great move—especially since it was becoming clear that Moore was the odd man out under center.
Injury will impact the stock of a pair of West Virginia offensive linemen.
The first is Pat Eger, one of the returning offensive linemen who has been spending time at center this spring.
He is having some issues with his ankle and will miss some time because of it; however, he will likely still be the favorite after he returns.
According to offensive line coach Ron Crook, two players have been working at center in Eger's stead—Tony Matteo and Russell Haughton-James. However, he did say that Eger shouldn't be effected long term by his injury (via WVUSports.com).
The second injury is to Adam Pankey. Holgorsen reported that the redshirt freshman underwent surgery for a torn ACL, which will keep him out until September or October (via WVUSports.com).
This injury is especially unfortunate, as both Crook and Holgorsen commented that Pankey was making strides in the spring. He was on the short list of players lined up to take one of the vacant starting positions on the offensive line.
The Mountaineers have plenty of possibilities on the line without Pankey, but his injury hurts nonetheless.
Don't overreact on this one.
Wendell Smallwood is the lone true freshman for spring practice, and he is playing alongside an experienced pair of juniors in Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison, along with a seasoned JUCO transfer Dreamius Smith.
In other words, it's to be expected that he's a little bit behind in the competition at this point.
Holgorsen commented earlier this week that Smallwood still lacks the vision that his older peers have already developed (via WVUSports.com):
Wendell is a quick-footed slasher that doesn’t see it. He is young, and he hasn’t played a whole lot of football so he is not as seasoned as the rest of them that hit in the hole the way he will once he actually sees it. Once he does see it, he will get through there pretty quick. He has good speed and he is going to be a big kid.
That last little bit from Holgorsen indicates that, though Smallwood may not have what it takes to snatch up play time immediately, he could end up being every bit as dangerous as the other three in time, if not better.