Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Key pieces of WVU’s offense commit to returning in 2024

MORGANTOWN — The transfer portal window can be a scary time for college football fans.

Their favorite players can up and leave their favorite team with little-to-no warning, and even less pomp.

As the current transfer window approaches its halfway mark — it closes on Jan. 2 — West Virginia has focused on retaining its best players, particularly on offense.

The WVU offense, which finished sixth in the Big 12 in scoring (31.6 points per game) and yards (438.2) and led the league in rushing (2,812), is the strength of the team and has, more or less, stuck together through the first two weeks of the portal being open.

“I’m pleased where it’s at, but it’s very fluid and it’ll be fluid until the portal closes,” WVU coach Neal Brown said last Tuesday. “Offensively, we’re going to be really careful.”

Several players, including quarterback Garrett Greene, have announced their intention to return to WVU for the 2024 season either through their own social media accounts or through Country Roads Trust, the team’s NIL collective.

The team’s biggest area of concern currently is at wide receiver. Leading receiver Devin Carter (27 receptions for 501 yards) is out of eligibility and will try his hand at the NFL next season. Noah Massey also walked on Senior Day.

In addition, four depth receivers — Cortez Braham, Jeremiah Aaron, Davis Mallinger and Ja’Shaun Poke — have all entered the portal. Those four combined for just six catches for 36 yards this season.

While that’s not a lot of production leaving via the portal, it does leave the position a little thin as things sit right now.

Committed to returning in 2024 are Preston Fox (26 for 368), Traylon Ray (15 for 230) and Rodney Gallagher (10 for 74). Hudson Clement (17 for 391) and EJ Horton (10 for 201) could also return, but Brown is looking to add at least one veteran transfer.

“At receiver, we’d like to take one proven guy and put him in that room,” Brown said. “Those young guys really got better as the year went.”

Tight end Kole Taylor (33 for 411) has also announced he will come back for next season.

WVU has offers out to myriad receivers in the portal, most notably Jaden Bray (Oklahoma State) and Jahmal Banks (Wake Forest). Former Michigan State tight end Maliq Carr has also been offered.

Elsewhere on offense, the Mountaineers look sound. Greene (28 total touchdowns) will return as WVU’s starting quarterback and breakout freshman running back Jahiem White (792 yards) has also announced he will be back. CJ Donaldson (798 yards, 11 touchdowns) also has eligibility remaining. Backup running back Justin Johnson Jr. (150 yards) is in the portal.

The offensive line will lose its leader, center Zach Frazier, to the NFL, as well as right tackle Doug Nester, who will also head for the pros.

However, most of the remaining offensive line group has already committed to staying at WVU. That includes starters Wyatt Milum, Tomas Rimac and Brandon Yates, top backup Nick Malone and underclassmen Johnny Williams and Nick Krahe.

Donaldson, Clement and backup quarterback Nicco Marchiol remain the biggest names to not yet announce their intentions.

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