WVU Line Roster Changes Spur Adjustments

On the first day of West Virginia fall football camp, we learned of the finalization of two personnel moves involving the offensive line. Those, coupled with another announcement over the summer, could affect the depth and rotation of players up front. Just how significant might they be?

To recap, over the summer transfer Kyle Bosch received word that he would not be forced to sit out the 2015 season after moving to West Virginia from Michigan. That was a big boost to potential depth up front, and while it wasn't the splashiest news item for many fans, it was a nice bonus. However, that was counterbalanced on Monday with the confirmation that Russell Haughton-James, who was arrested on burglary charges after a domestic dispute, had been dismissed from the team.

On the surface, the former item seemed to trump the latter. Trading a backup utility lineman for a four-star recruit comes out as a positive in the initial analysis, but there's a bit more to examine here.

First, Haughton-James, while not an all-league performer, gave West Virginia some options up front. Think of him as a utility infielder in baseball -- he could play guard or tackle, and could also line up as a tight end to provide extra blocking thump. And while redshirt freshman Yodny Cajuste seemed to be winning the battle for a starting tackle spot, H-J was there to keep pushing him, and to step in if things got overwhelming. Those potential pluses are gone now.

On the flip side, though, those roles can be filled in other ways. While not quite as big as Haughton-James, Darren Arndt and Michael Ferns could fill the second blocking role (Cody Clay holds down the top spot) at tight end, and Bosch could develop into a quality player at guard. He's probably not suited to flip out to tackle, but another option would be for Adam Pankey, who originally was a tackle, to slide out if necessary, with Bosch moving into his vacated spot.

A third announcement, again minor in the current scheme, was that of big Dontae Angus moving from nose tackle to the offensive line. Angus was a late addition to the 2014 recruiting class, and while his physical abilities are evident, he must improve his consistency and effort in order to have an impact at WVU. While some thought this move was in response to the departure of Haughton-James, the reality is that it will have zero effect on the offensive line this year. Holgorsen admitted that he's probably still two seasons away from contributing, so there's no way this move was made to address any personnel issue this season.

None of this is going to get a great deal of examination in the mainstream, but it's an important item to keep an eye on. If WVU has any problems on the offensive line, they figure to come at tackle, where playing experience is non-existent beyond Marquis Lucas. Haughton-James provided a bit of a comfort zone, and his ill-advised decision in the off-season left a gap that must be covered.


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