No Limits

A sore foot and green jersey couldn't keep Mountaineer offensive tackle Ryan Stanchek off the field during last Saturday's scrimmage.

And, if Stanchek was going to be out there playing, he figured he better do so with maximum effort and intensity. Normally, a green jersey signifies that the player may participate in practice, but must limit his contact. For Stanchek, however, green meant go.

When the first-team offense took the field in their white jerseys, big No. 62 was right there anchoring the line, albeit in the aforementioned green. From the first snap, however, it was apparent that there would be no limiting the amount of contact that West Virginia's All-American left tackle would be giving or taking. During one Noel Devine run, Stanchek fired off the ball and ran his man into the turf. Needless to say, it was business as usual for the senior standout.

"I get a little bit hungry sometimes when I'm not out there," Stancheck shrugged. "I guess I just needed a little dose of hitting somebody or finding somebody in a blue jersey."

For portions of the spring, Stanchek has been sidelined with a sore foot. Though the injury is nothing serious, WVU coaches and trainers have taken every precaution to make sure the talented gridder is ready to go when fall camp begins in August. The Mountaineer offensive line has conducted the duration of spring practice without the services of starting center Mike Dent and left guard Greg Isdaner.

With the starting trio missing practice time due to injury, some of the younger linemen have had a chance to step into the spotlight. From an observable distance, WVU's most experienced man up front has liked what he has seen.

"The young guys have been great," he said. "Donny Barclay (filling in at left tackle) is a guy who has gotten a lot of reps, and I think he's going to be a great player in the future. Guys like that have done a great job this spring."

Stanchek says the veterans have done a good job of leading by example, even if they aren't able to do much during practice as they recover from injuries. As a result, the younger players are not only getting valuable reps on the line, but also getting a first-hand look at how to make an impact even if there are limitations due to injury.

"Those guys have been in the weight room busting their tails," he said of Dent and Isdaner, both of whom are recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. "They're in great shape. Greg and Mike are two veterans, and two of the better linemen in the league. They will be fine in the fall, I'm not worried about them."

Everyone on the offensive line has taken on the task of getting to know a new coach, which for many of the veterans is nothing new. Former Mountaineer offensive lineman Dave Johnson has returned home after a stint at Georgia to point the way up front for the likes of Stanchek, Dent, Isdaner and the others.

Johnson marks the third offensive line mentor in the past three seasons. Last year's coach, Greg Frey, moved on to Michigan with former head coach Rich Rodriguez. Rick Trickett, who guided the Mountaineers up front from 2001-06, is at Florida State with former WVU head coach Bobby Bowden.

Thus, another new head honcho for the men in the trenches, and another transition – a third coach in five seasons – for Stanchek. By now, though, getting used to a new coach is old hat.

"It's kind of like a job interview again," he said. "I've had three coaches here, and each time you feel like you have to prove yourself all over again. As a program, one of our mottos is that you have to prove yourself every day. It's been a great thing.

"Coach Johnson has brought a great family atmosphere," Stanchek continued. "He shows so much respect for us that I think it makes us all want to work that much harder every practice for him. We want to make him proud of us."

The o-line will get that chance for the final time this spring during Saturday's Gold-Blue game at Milan Puskar Stadium. After that, the wait begins.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories