Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Donny Barclay has been waiting his entire life to play college football. So, in the grand scheme of things, another week and change should be a breeze, right?
"Practice this week is going to be slow since there isn't a game to look forward to, but I bet next week will go fast because we'll all be looking forward to Villanova," Barclay said.
Fair enough. But when Barclay does finally make his college debut next Saturday afternoon, what position will he be playing and how early or late in the game will it be? These are a couple of questions which remain unanswered as the Mountaineers transition from the emphasis on teaching and learning during fall camp to game planning and preparation for the Wildcats.
For the first several days of camp, Barclay was working with the first team at left tackle, filling in for returning All-American Ryan Stanchek as he recovered from an illness. With Stanchek leaving at the end of the season, Barclay could very well be the heir apparent at left tackle, so giving him reps with the first team at that spot certainly made sense. Barclay also has the ability to play at left guard.
After Saturday's camp-concluding scrimmage, though, offensive line coach Dave Johnson noted that Barclay is very much in the mix to start at right tackle. Previously, it was thought that bowl-game starter Stephen Maw and 2007 part-time starter Selvish Capers were the only two players in the running for that position. But according to the coach, Barclay has done so well in camp that he, too, warrants starting consideration.
Despite the fact that he played more on the left side than the right side during camp, Barclay says he is comfortable at whatever position Johnson asks him to play. And the fact that Johnson, a former Mountaineer center, thinks highly enough of him as a redshirt freshman to play alongside the likes of Stanchek, guard Greg Isdaner and center Mike Dent is also a big confidence boost for Barclay.
"I think the biggest thing right now is just the factor of him trusting me to go out there and play with those guys who have been playing together for the past three years," he said. "He got my mind set on (the possibility of starting at right tackle), and now I'm really striving for that goal. I'm battling every day."
Of course the possibility of starting does not come without a lot of hard work and a bit of adjusting. Moving from one side of the line to the other may sound like a walk in the park, but truth be told it is anything but from a technical standpoint.
"I think that I need to clarify all of our alls as an o-line to get more comfortable with the right side, since I spent a lot of camp at the left side," he explained. "I have to get my footwork down on the right, as well. It's not that hard, but it takes about a week or so to get used to.
"When you go left side for about a week, mentally it isn't that hard but physically, your left and right legs are used to it, and then you switch to the right side and it's different," Barclay continued. "I enjoy both sides. I played both sides growing up. I just want to get out on the field as quick as possible."
Though he hasn't been in Morgantown for all that long, the Harmony, Pa. product has made quite a name for himself inside the WVU program. Head coach Bill Stewart has referred to him as a star in the making. Isdaner, who will be a third-year starter when he takes the field against Villanova, says Barclay has similar qualities to another Mountaineer lineman.
"He reminds me of a young Ryan Stanchek," Isdander said. "You see a lot of the same things. The way he comes off the ball, his tenacity, the way he blocks until the whistle. It's pretty similar, and if he keeps playing like this, there is no doubt in my mind that he can be that same type of player."
Barclay will almost certainly get on the field against Villanova, though where or when has yet to be determined. And while the boyhood dreams of playing on the highest level of college football will soon become a reality, he also knows that the game against Villanova is just the beginning of another long journey.
"I committed (to West Virginia) my junior year of high school, so I've been waiting to get here and working towards this," he said. "I'm really excited, and I can't wait to get out there and just get my first play over with and in the books and go from there."