Back In The Harness

West Virginia offensive lineman Mike Dent made his return to the field from off season shoulder surgery on Monday, and the senior center felt like he and his mates up front hit the ground running.

"It felt great to be back out there with the guys that I played with last year," Dent said. "I felt like things started clicking pretty quickly. I thought overall it was a pretty good first day. We'll watch film on it and get some feedback from the coaches, but things came together pretty well."

Dent noted that his shoulder, despite a large ice bag taped to it after practice, was at 100%. He said that the ice was simply precautionary measure – something that will likely continue throughout the season – but that he anticipated no ill effects from it.

"Greg Isdaner was out for the spring too, and he had a great practice today also, and he said he felt fine," Dent reported. Although the line was absent Ryan Stanchek, who was held out while recovering from illness, Dent was pleased with the overall performance of play. He cited two additional factors that he believes will keep the offensive line working to earn the lofty preseason rankings it has earned.

"I don't think there's any pressure to live up to those preseason rankings, because that's just someone's opinion," Dent observed. "You have to go out there and practice every day, and every game you play you have to prove that you're the best line in the country."

"Also, I think there's a lot of good competition behind us, from the center to the guards and out through the tackles. There are guys that can step up and play. We have a lot of depth, and that pushes everybody."

From his center position, Dent watched Eric Jobe and Gino Gradkowski, his backups, and thought that their play from the spring carried over into the first day of fall camp. Also drawing notice for backup work was redshirt freshman Don Barclay, who is being groomed as a swing player who could fill in at either guard or tackle, on either side.

Like most of his line mates, Dent listed new terminology and developing comfort with that system as the key challenge of fall camp.

"We have to get back into rhythm and learn a few of the different terms, he reiterated. Once we do that, and come together as a group again, we will be ready to go. A lot of [the plays and assignments] are the same. It's just some of the terminology is different. Some of the words are different, and just learning the plays and the names for them, and getting a feel for that, is the main thing. And you can still fall back on what you learned last year too, so I think that will help."


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