Rod Report - Day XII

West Virginia, which received word on its freshmen NCAA Clearinghouse issues, completed its last two-a-day practice Thursday and will hold just one more drill session before its final scrimmage on Saturday.

The Mountaineers learned that Morgantown native Junius Lewis has been cleared by the NCAA. WVU has decided to greyshirt the defensive lineman anyway, fearing he has missed too much time to be able to contribute this season. That will also allow him to further rehabilitate his knee. Fellow lineman Asa Chapman (Fork Union Military Academy) will attend a prep school, as will tailback Terence Kerns (Hargrave Military Academy) and wide receiver Andrew Harris (Hargrave). Kerns has not received a final ruling, but has already enrolled and is practicing at Hargrave.

"It took always longer than you would like," Rodriguez said of the Clearinghouse. "It will be the best thing for Junius. Sometimes the way that Clearinghouse timing is, it's unfortunate. They get overwhelmed right at the end of July and the first of August."

WVU was forced to practice inside Thursday morning due to rain. It went full-contact outside, doing situational work like a live two-minute drill. There are still several injuries, like cornerback Antonio Lewis (shoulder), offensive lineman Eric Rodemoyer and receiver Tito Gonzales (head injury), but defensive end Johnny Dingle and tackle Scooter Berry (elbow) returned, as did wideout Wes Lyons. Lyons has been limited since the start of fall drills with a nagging hamstring injury.

Rodriguez said that Saturday's scrimmage would feature some ones vs. ones and twos vs. twos, but, at times, the third team could face the first team and other combinations. The Mountaineers will cover a myriad of situations in the scrimmage, including special teams. WVU will practice outside on Friday, no matter how long it is forced to wait because of weather. The forecast is for scattered showers. The team will then travel to a local hotel to mimic a game weekend setup for the freshmen. WVU lacks a true fall camp, in terms of sequestering players away, and that was the reason for the hotel experience. That will segue into the scrimmage.

"We always do a little picture show with the team," Rodriguez said of the Friday night hotel setup. "If someone on the team looks like someone famous, we will show a comparison. That's always fun. Some of the seniors might get up and talk a little bit about West Virginia football, and we will have some position meetings. It's just our little family, and that's what I like."

Rodriguez said the one thing a team cannot pinpoint during fall camp is how freshmen will handle game situations. The chemistry, he said, is starting to come together and has developed well. The players understand what is needed.

"But the focus in camp is a little easier to stay on football," Rodriguez said. "When 27,000 students come in this weekend and their academics all the sudden have to take an equal balance, their focus will be tested in the next few days. I will know more next week. I will be disappointed if it is not what it has been."

Note: West Virginia will have a new team entrance this season. Rodriguez said his wife, Rita, and video coordinator Dusty Rutledge are still working on it. The coach visited the band last Saturday and noted that his intent was to involve the band more, rather than less.

"I was hoping to have something Saturday," Rodriguez said. "They are still working on it. I have not seen the final product yet. I think players and fans will be excited about it. It's to kind of get it pumped up, get excited. When you do things for a while, sometimes it gets a bit stale. We wanted to look at something new. It all dissipates in the first few minutes anyway. But for a lot of people and a lot of recruits that come to the game, they look forward to that coming out of the tunnel. That emotion carries you a little bit. We have a great atmosphere and great fans and I want to get them into it."

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