The Dominion Post  

WVU looking for depth at WR behind stellar trio

Created on:   Sat, Mar 3, 2018   8:37 PM

Last modified:   Sat, Mar 3, 2018   8:37 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Ka’Raun White is making a significant improvement on his draft stock at the NFL Combine.

The lesser known of the White brothers — Kevin was taken in the top 10 of the 2015 draft and Kyzir is considered one of the top safeties in this year’s class — Ka’Raun put up 24 reps in the bench press on March 3, two more than any other receiver and the most by a receiver in the last five years.

While White continues to improve his future, his former team is trying to figure out a way to replace him. He is the lone receiver with significant production not to return to the WVU football team from 2017.

Despite White’s absence, though, the receiving corps for the Mountaineers brings back two of the top WRs in the Big 12 — David Sills and Gary Jennings.

Sills, who made a name for himself nationally after hauling in 18 touchdowns in his first season as a full-time receiver, was a Biletnikoff finalist and decided to return for his senior year after contemplating a move to the NFL.

Jennings caught 97 passes, the fifth most in a single season in school history. He led the team in yards, too, with 1,096.

Marcus Simms, considered the fourth option behind White, Sills and Jennings, was the deep threat on the outside, averaging 19 yards per catch and grabbing five touchdowns.

“We have a veteran group with Sills, Marcus and Gary,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “You have some guys with some good touches, good yards and a lot of valuable playing experience. The thing that we are really concerned about, or what the emphasis is who is going to be that backup.”

Trying to find someone to replace White’s production is one of the top priorities in spring camp, which began last week. One of the favorites to do that is T.J. Simmons, who had to sit out last season after transferring from Alabama. He spent one season is Tuscaloosa, but mainly played special teams.

Other names that could potentially replace White are sophomore Reggie Roberson and senior Dominique Maiden.

Regardless of who it is, Spavital just wants to see someone step up to add depth, something the receivers didn’t have last season.

“I want to see guys step up,” Spavital said. “I thought our problem last year is we didn’t have solid backups and our receivers played way too many plays. That is one of the reasons why our receivers’ stats were high, because they didn’t ever come off the field. As you track it as the season went on, they wore down. We want to be able to rely on some other people to step in there and make some plays for us so we are not constantly running these kids into the ground so we can give them a breather at times.”

Spavital said Maiden has looked good and has impressed in the early going. At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, he physically fits the bill.

Sophomore Tevin Bush moved from running back to wide receiver in the offseason, and fits a different mold than Maiden. The 5-foot-6, 163-pounder is a speed threat that could be suited for the slot and able to get into space.


Cornerback Fontez Davis left the program toward the beginning of spring practice.

After signing with the Mountaineers out of Butler Community College (Kan.), in 2017, Davis did not play last season. He is the third cornerback to leave since the program since the season ended, following twins Jacquez and Jordan Adams.