Backfield Brimming

WVU running back coach Calvin Magee knows he's in an enviable position. While many of West Virginia's position coaches are still working to identify depth, Magee has five players he can call on for duty this year, plus a deep and talented recruiting class coming in August.

"We have some good talent, and guys that I'm not afraid to play," Magee said of his players as he prepares for WVU's summer football camps. "We're two deep at both superback and fullback, and we've got a swing guy that can play both positions."

Superback, of course, is manned by the tandem of Avon Cobourne and Quincy Wilson. Cobourne's talents and work ethic are well documented, but Magee still doesn't hesitate to talk about his talented senior.

"Avon is really taking the team on his shoulders. He's working out, making sure other guys get to workouts, and is just being a super leader. He's not concerned about NFL possibilities or anything like that - he just wants to get this team some wins."

Behind Avon, Quincy Wilson has continued to improve and is now reaching the levels that the coaches envisioned for him last season.

"Quincy has really come around and is ready to play. He's pushed Avon to work harder. That will help Avon too, we can play Quincy some and Avon will be fresher in the fourth quarter."

At fullback, Moe Fofana has emerged from the walkon ranks to claim both the starting fullback job and a scholarship. Behind Fofana, another walk-on, Adam King, has earned the backup fullback position. Despite their relatively unheralded status, Magee is very pleased with the development of the fullbacks, who figure to have an increased role in the offense.

"Moe Fofana has worked his butt off and has given us a fullback we can depend on and trust. He came from being a special teamer to the starting job. He's a great example for all the walkons and young guys. He's not the only guy who's done that (earned a scholarship), and we use him all the time to show the other guys what they can achieve."

The fifth player in the rotation is Hikee Johnson, who can play either the superback or fullback position. After an injury plagued spring, which included some hamstring problems, Johnson looks ready to go.

"Hikee is healthy now and will give us some depth at both spots," said Magee. "We don't have any problem playing him."

The combination of available talent, plus the realization that the power running game needed some tinkering, led the coaching staff to plot an increased role for fullbacks in next year's offense. While WVU's fullbacks won't be carrying the ball like Mike Alstott, they will definitely be on the field more often, which leads to more excitement from the group.

"I think the fullbacks are a little more excited about the two back sets. They're looking forward to getting some shots [with the ball]," Magee notes. "They worked just as hard last year as they are now, but it should be more fun for them."

The flexibility that having such depth provides is also allowing Magee to do some experimenting and tinkering this summer with new formations and wrinkles, which has good-natured Magee even more happy.

"It's a lot of fun. One thing you always want to do is find who fits what best. We've found out what the people's strengths are and what they bring to the team, and now we're working on formations and plays that match their skills."

Magee will have even more depth this fall, when his ranks will be bolstered by incoming recruits John Scott, Erick Phillips, Jason Colson and Boo McLee. While none of those players are expected to make an immediate impact in WVU's backfield, they are, without a doubt the wave of the future. WVU has only three scholarship running backs on the roster this fall, and with Cobourne departing next year there will be ample opportunities for those newcomers to make an impact.

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