Justin Crawford. Kennedy McKoy. Martell Pettaway. With a trio of proven performers returning for the 2017 season, the pressure wasn't on for West Virginia to add immediate help in the offensive backfield. True, Crawford will be a senior this fall, but McKoy and Pettaway are just entering their second seasons on the field. That allowed WVU, and running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider, to take a different approach in recruiting for the position.
"The whole plan this year was to get versatile guys," said Seider after getting letters of intent from Tevin Bush and Alec Sinkfield. "I think with both of these guys they can learn that dual role and help the offense even more."
Seider was referring to the ability to play his backs either in the traditional backfield position or in the slot -- something that the Mountaineers did with Charles Sims in the past, and can do with McKoy now. However, McKoy is the only back that is suited for that role, and Seider does not want to pin him down as the "slot guy" while Crawford and Pettaway are in the backfield. With Bush and Sinkfield, WVU has multiple players for multiple roles.
Of Bush, Seider said "We can put him in the backfield or put him in slot. He's tough. He's a competitor. The first person never ever gets him down. He knows how to find his way to the end zone.He reminds me of somehwere in betweeen Jock Sanders and Tavon Austin."
That's tall praise, of course, and Seider was quick to note that he wasn't putting Bush on the level of the NFL's Austin as of now. However, a look at the way he was used in high school, and his ability to burst and weave through traffic, does draw the comparison. So too does Bush's lack of height -- another similarity he shares with the former WVU receivers.
The versatility factor is even greater with Sinkfield.
"He can help us so many ways," Seider observed. "He was all state as a defensive back two years ago, he can play receiver, he can play running back. It depends on what we need. It might be hard to crack the lineup with the three we have coming back but we'll see when he gets here. Everyone should know that we're not afraid to play freshmen."
WVU also got a player for its other, often-overlooked backfield spot. Maverick Wolfley, who played both running back and linebacker in high school, will get a first look on the offensive side of the ball. Hoping to continue the theme of tough in-state players to man a physical position that rarely sees the ball, Seider said that Wolfley will get the chance to replace Elijah Wellman, who will be a senior this year. The plan, at least for now, will be to develop Wolfley without a great deal of pressure this year, then measure his progress priot to 2018.