West Virginia Football: 10 Mountaineers We Are Most Excited to Watch in 2013
As the West Virginia football program embarks on its second year as a member of the Big 12 Conference, the team that takes the field for the 2013 season opener on August 31 will look much different from the one that was seen in 2012.
Multiple new additions are expected to help fortify the team's faulty defense, and even more changes are expected on offense.
With stars Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey all gone to the NFL, WVU will have a new quarterback and could have four starting receivers who are new to the program.
The Mountaineers added two high-profile transfers—and both are expected to play immediately.
Additionally, the 2013 WVU squad will feature a new cast of game-ready junior college additions on both sides of the ball.
10. Dustin Garrison
Running back Dustin Garrison is the only returning player to make this list.
Garrison showed a lot of promise when he earned the starting job as a freshman in 2011. However, a knee injury just before the 2012 Orange Bowl proved to be a major setback.
Over the course of the 2012 season, Garrison was limited and never showed the same explosiveness from his freshman campaign.
But in the Gold-Blue Spring Game in April, Garrison looked better than he ever has.
The depth chart will be crowded at running back, but Garrison will still earn plenty of time and carries in 2013.
If he can stay healthy, his presence will certainly be felt in Morgantown.
9. Brandon Golson
Thanks to the addition of Tony Gibson from the Arizona coaching staff, the Mountaineers were able to swipe Golson and his JUCO teammate Mario Alford (more on him later) from the Wildcats on national signing day.
Golson has the size and ability to play immediately for the Mountaineers.
A talented edge rusher, Golson is expected to help shore up the WVU pass rush that was lagging in 2012.
He may not quite be the next Bruce Irvin at West Virginia, but his arrival is still highly anticipated.
8. Dontrill Hyman
Dontrill Hyman was another enormous late addition to the 2013 West Virginia recruiting class.
Like Golson, Hyman has the size and ability to play immediately on the defensive front in Morgantown.
At 6'4", 265 pounds, Hyman is as physically ready as a prospect can possibly be and could be on the fast track to earning a starting slot on the WVU defensive line.
He still hasn't arrived on campus, as of early July, but will likely be too talented to keep off the field once he does arrive.
7. Ron Carswell
With all of the exciting new additions to the WVU receiving corp, Ron Carswell has flown under the radar.
His relative anonymity thus far is pretty surprising, especially considering that he used to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Regardless of his past, Carswell is on the West Virginia roster now and is ready to earn playing time among a wide-open group of Mountaineer receivers.
WVU will return next to nothing at receiver from 2012, giving Carswell and others plenty of opportunity to earn catches.
When it comes to Carswell's skill level, the tape doesn't lie—it looks like he'll fit into this offense perfectly.
6. Kevin White
West Virginia hasn't had a receiver with the size and athletic ability of Kevin White in quite some time.
At 6'3", 211 pounds with dreadlocks flowing, White almost looks like Larry Fitzgerald out on the field.
Right now, it looks like he could end up as the go-to receiver in the WVU offense for 2013.
He made the play of the day at the Gold-Blue Game when he took a screen pass and embarrassed a group of would-be tacklers en route to a long touchdown reception.
If he can make plays like that all season long, it'll definitely help ease the pain felt by WVU fans from the departure of star receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
5. Dreamius Smith
It was tough to place Dreamius Smith this low on the list.
A few months ago, the Wichita, Kan., native may have been all the way at No. 1.
However, after his showing in the spring game, it is clear what WVU is going to have in Smith: a talented back who brings a remarkable blend of size and speed.
Those who did rank ahead of Smith are players who haven't yet been able to showcase their talents while wearing the old gold and blue.
Despite the low ranking, Smith may have as much of an impact this season as any player on this list.
4. Mario Alford
With the immense losses WVU sustained at receiver, it'll take more than one player to replace the production.
In addition to the consistent production, the Mountaineers will also be looking for excitement and explosiveness at the receiver and returner position.
That's where "Super" Mario Alford could come in.
Alford was a fantastic signing day addition for the Mountaineers and could fill a role similar to that of Tavon Austin.
Not to say that he'll be Austin, but he may be seen taking sweeps, short passes and returning kicks and punts like Austin did for WVU.
It's a big role to fill, but the JUCO stud has the experience and ability to be an all-purpose star in Morgantown.
3. Shelton Gibson
A 247Sports composite 4-star receiver, Shelton Gibson signed as the crown jewel of the 2013 WVU recruiting class.
If Alford fills a versatile role similar to that of Austin, Gibson will be expected to provide a presence similar to Stedman Bailey on the outside.
No matter what "role" Gibson fills, he shouldn't have too much of a problem finding his place early on in Morgantown—whether at the top of the receiver depth chart or in the return game.
Gibson is very fast—in May he tweeted some of his times on the track: 10.68-seconds in the 100-meter dash and a 21.79-second time in the 200-meter dash.
This fall, WVU fans will finally see that speed up close.
2. Clint Trickett
Clint Trickett hasn't been awarded the starting quarterback position for West Virginia yet—but he didn't transfer from Florida State to sit on the bench.
If Trickett wins the job, like many expect him to, he will be given the keys to one of the most powerful offenses in college football.
West Virginia lost a ton of talent from 2012, but the Mountaineers certainly won't have a shortage of playmakers in 2013, thanks to all the new additions.
It'll be Trickett's job to manage all that talent and distribute the ball efficiently.
A lot rests on his shoulders, making his addition that much more highly anticipated.
1. Charles Sims
Just when it seemed like West Virginia was finished adding to its 2013 roster, news broke that Houston running back Charles Sims (my long-lost cousin) would be transferring to WVU.
On July 1, Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail reported that, even though WVU hasn't officially announced Sims' arrival, he is already enrolled in classes.
Sims will almost certainly start immediately for West Virginia.
He is rated by CBSSports.com as the No. 5 running back prospect in the 2014 NFL draft.
While WVU has solid depth and talent at the position already, Sims looks to be on another level.
He did struggle with injuries in his junior campaign at Houston.
However, if he stays healthy, he will be one of the best running backs in the Big 12.