Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Mountaineers welcome plenty of new faces with spring practices about to start

MORGANTOWN — Spring practices are just around the corner for the WVU football team and there will be plenty of new faces for the Mountaineers. Between transfers and early enrollees, there will be 16 new players when WVU begins its first spring practice on Monday.

Headlining the newcomers is an impressive transfer class of defensive backs with Jaheem Joseph (Northwestern), Garnett Hollis (Northwestern), Ayden Garnes (Duquesne) and TJ Crandall (Colorado State); wide receiver Jaden Bray (Oklahoma State); linebacker Reid Carrico (Ohio State); pass rusher Ty French (Gardner-Webb); offensive lineman Xavier Bausley (Jacksonville State); and defensive lineman TJ Jackson (Troy).

The addition of four transfer defensive backs, as well as the return of cornerback Montre Miller from an injury, has WVU head coach Neal Brown excited for his secondary in 2024.

“This is the deepest we’ve been and we may even continue to add to that room,” Brown said Thursday. 

Hollis and Crandall will both play corner, Joseph will practice at safety and spear and Garnes will train at all three positions. Brown also said returning safety Aubrey Burks will see time at spear this spring.

“We’re going to play Aubrey more at spear; he played a little bit there in the bowl game,” Brown said. “He’ll probably get more reps playing spear than he will at deep safety during the spring.”

Hollis and Joseph, both coming from Northwestern, only committed to WVU last month, but were able to make it work with their academics in order to be in Morgantown for spring practice. Joseph has two seasons of eligibility left, while Hollis has one.

“Those guys have played a ton of football and they’ve played quality football in a tough league,” Brown said. “We wouldn’t bring guys in that have very-little eligibility left unless we felt they could really help. It’ll benefit them for sure to be here for the spring.”

Bausley is an in-state product, having graduated from South Charleston. After redshirting in 2022, Bausley was named a freshman All-American at Jacksonville State last season playing under former WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez.

“We recruited him really hard (out of high school) to be a preferred walk-on,” Brown said. “He really looks a lot different now than when he was finishing up his junior year in high school. We feel strongly that he’s going to play tackle and he’s going to be in the mix and get a ton of reps.”

Freshmen who have enrolled early and are in Morgantown for spring practices are defensive backs Israel Boyce and Zae Jennings, defensive linemen Nate Gabriel and Elijah Kinsler, pass rusher Obinna Onwuka, tight end Jack Sammarco and running back Clay Ash. 

In addition to the newcomers, there are several players WVU will be welcoming back from injury this spring, including Miller.

Miller played in just one game last season before suffering a season-ending injury but is back at full speed. Also full-go are linebackers Josiah Trotter and Trey Lathan. Trotter suffered an injury last spring that cost him his freshman season, while Lathan played in five games.

Limited this spring will be tight end Kole Taylor, offensive lineman Bryce Biggs and running back CJ Donaldson. Brown said all three will eventually progress to be able to do some work this spring, but none of them will have contact.

Ruled out for spring practices are starting guard Tomas Rimac, linebacker Jairo Faverus and defensive linemen Asani Redwood and Oryend Fisher.

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