Spring Practice Notebook - 3/18

Player positioning and availability were the major areas of interest as spring football practice began at West Virginia on Monday.

With a deficit of numbers at the wide receiver position, former running back Cassell Smith was at a slot receiver position as the offense hit the field on Monday. Smith's good open field moves and strong build should be plusses in the slot, where cathes and runs in traffic are at a premium.

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Lineman Rod Olds, who has been the subject of some debate over the winter concerning his possible placement on offense or defense, began the day with the stop troops. However he was limited somewhat by a sprained ankle. The thinking on Olds has been that he would get a quick look along the defensive line to see if he could help, but with the ankle sprain he will likely remain there longer until he can go full speed.

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Cornerback has also been hit hard with the limited availablity of Anthony Mims (hamstring) and Brian King (wrist). King will likely play the entire spring with a soft cast to protect his surgically repaired wrist, but it is hoped that Mims will be able to return to full duty by the time WVU returns from spring break.

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The lack of depth was also evident at the Bandit position, with former wide recievers Chris Flangan and Jermaine Thaxton getting a good number of reps along with Lawrence Audena. Free safety Angel Estrada also figures to get time at this position as the coaches work to get players in the correct positions.

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Spur Arthur Harrison may have found a home after a couple of rugged years in the program. The senior big hitter looks to have the first chance to make this position his, with competition from James Woodruff.

Of course, defensive back Brown Faavae also remains a candidate for one of the safety positions if he achieves his eligibility for fall practice. He is sitting out this spring, along with defensive tackle Kelvin Dubouse, as non-qualifiers.

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Also notable among those limited in playing time were fullback Hikee Johnson and wide receivers Phil Braxton and Mike Page. Page has an ankle problem, while Braxton is being held out of contact as his broken ankle continues to heal. Johnson has been bothered by a strained hamstring, so his place was taken by junior Moe Fofana.

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No full special teams drills took place on Monday, but all the kickers did get time at the beginning of practice to work. Zach Anglin, returning from the horrific injury suffered a season ago at Rutgers, worked on both placekicks and punts, as did Todd James. Special teams coordinator Bill Stewart has noted that he would prefer to have different players handling the punting and placekicking chores.


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