Spring Practice Opens

It was a typical first day of spring football practice at Mountaineer Field on Tuesday, with a few youngsters getting a chance to see what they could do in the chilly, breezy conditions.

The team took the field in helmets only as they eased their way into the first day of practice. With no pads in evidence, the focus was on individual work, with several sessions of team pass offense and defense concluding the opening day.

A number of one on one passing drills also took place, with the newly stocked quarterback position getting a great deal of work. Although most eyes were on players such as Adam Bednarik and Dwayne Thompson, incumbent starter Rasheed Marshall threw the ball with confidence, and probably had the best day overall. While drills were conducted without either the offensive or defensive lines, Marshall displayed the confidence befitting a returning veteran starter as he zipped the ball around the field to a number of receivers.

Bednarik displayed good proficiency on slant patterns, putting most of those pases right on the money, while Thompson showed off his nice touch with several well-placed tosses to running backs.

Among those was diminutive walkon Stephon Ashcraft, who showed excellent speed and quickness. Ashcraft, who hails from Massillon, Ohio, was widely recruited a year ago, but did not participate in football before walking on at West Virginia. Eddie Jackson was also impressive, getting open on several occasions, including one deep pattern where he got by Adam Jones.

On the injury/protected players front, Jahmile Addae took part in several team pass drills, but sat out the one on one portions. He was wearing a harness to protect his surgically repaired shoulder. Tim Brown was jogging around the field and moving reasonably well, while both Adam Lehnortt, Pat Liebig and Tim Lindsey were also held out while wearing red jerseys. Erick Phillips was also jogging around the field, and was not wearing a brace on his knee.

Although Rich Rodriguez cautioned not to make too much of the "depth chart" early in the spring, while a number of players get time with different teammates, there were some interesting alignments, especially on defense. Scott Gyorko, Alex Lake and Kevin McLee were the linebackers with the first group, while Joe Sykes saw time at both outside backer spots. Jay Henry and Jeff Noechel also got time at the linebacker spots.

In the secondary, Adam Jones, Anthony Mims and Addae were with the first group, while Larry Williams and greyshirt Antonio Lewis saw time with the second group. Davanzo Tate and Vaughn Rivers were also given a number of reps at corner, while Vince Beamer was second in at free safety, with Ridwan Malik also getting some snaps.

In another position experiment, Ben Clemmons played behind Mike Lorello at spur (Lorello was a bandit last year, while Clemmons was a linebacker). Lawrence Audena got his first chance to nail down the bandit position after earning increased playing time over the last few games of last season.


Several players missed the first day due to class schedules. Wide receiver Chris Henry was one of those absent, but it was not known whether it was due to class.

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Head coach Rich Rodriguez was pleased with the enthusiasm on Day One, mentioning several times that he was happy with the attitude on the filed after a tough session of winter workouts.

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The offensive and defensive lines both stayed in their own work areas for the majority of practice. They worked on position dirlls, first steps, and the countless details that go into making successful units in the trenches.

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WVU's coaches hosted Air Force, which runs a similar defense, for three days, and also visited Pittsburgh to swap ideas with the Steelers. A visit to the Tennessee Titans may also be on tap.

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WVU concluded their first practice session with the chant "National Champs!"

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