Quick Hits: WVU Spring Practice Day Eight - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Quick Hits: WVU Spring Practice Day Eight

Josh Francis wears one of his many hats for WVU this spring. Josh Francis wears one of his many hats for WVU this spring.

Day eight of Quick Hits will focus on the defense as the vast majority of the 30 minutes open to the media found this reporter's camera on the far end of the field.

-       Josh Francis is making his rounds on the field. His Buck linebacker position already puts him in multiple stances and pre-snap looks on the defense, but he's also getting special teams work at a spot you wouldn't normally expect from an OLB/DE. He lined up alongside freshman receiver Jordan Thompson as a kickoff return man Thursday and honestly, he looked just as fast as the other five players taking back kicks.

Francis is listed at 6-foot-1, 221 pounds while Thompson checks in at just 5-foot-7, 159 on the official roster. In fact, the tallest of the others who returned kicks was Avery Williams at 5-foot-11 and the heaviest was Brodrick Jenkins at 186. Clearly Francis is some kind of athlete if he has been selected to keep that sort of company on the field.

-       Rachid Ibrahim, an athlete from The Avalon School in Gaithersburg, Md., was at practice Thursday. He has the ability to play multiple positions, but spent much of his time watching Joe DeForest and the safeties.

-       Donovan Miles in a white No. 30 jersey as a fullback is not nearly as different as I thought it might look. His 6-foot-1, 241-pound frame fits the position and as he ran through the Oklahoma drills he appeared quite comfortable on the other side of the blocking stations.

I asked Shawne Alston what he thought of Miles at his new position as he tries to fill the void left by Matt Lindamood's departure and he said he's been pleasantly surprised. Whatever Miles is lacking in knowledge of the position, he's making up for in physical abilities and the mental capacity to grasp nuances of being a fullback. As a fifth-year senior, he wants to get on the field and make an impact, and Holgorsen has made it clear that this position will give him that opportunity better than his old role as a linebacker.

-       Keith Patterson was working with his backers to fill the gaps when an offense fields a two-back set. There was at least as much verbal instructing as there was physically going through the drill, but the end result was that Patterson seemed pleased with the way his men followed direction and performed their assignments

-       The defensive line was working with its net again today to keep the players coming off the line low to get leverage on the offense. It's new to the line this year under Erik Slaughter and at one point Trevor Demko slammed his head on the crossbar. Apparently there is still some getting used to the new technique being taught.

-       On our live chat yesterday (If you're currently asking what live chat I'm talking about, then quit missing out and join us on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. – wvillustrated.com/livechat – we do it every week), a couple questions came in about the safety and linebacker positions and what personnel was lining up at each spot. Since the depth chart can be a little dated sometimes, I scoped it out today. Aside from injuries and players who may have had class, here's what I came up with:

Free and strong safety consists of Darwin Cook, Travis Bell, Karl Joseph, Ishmael Banks, Matt Moro, Ismail Showell and William Marable. Joseph continues to take reps as though the coaches are trying to give him as many opportunities as possible to prove himself worthy of real playing time this fall and based on all accounts, he's progressing at a rate that makes that seem very possible.

The Star linebacker position, which should be Terence Garvin's in the fall, is made up of Shaq Petteway, Wes Tonkery, Nick Cadwell, Lucas Henn and freshman Sean Walters. Dana Holgorsen claimed on Tuesday that Walters has gained 25 pounds since he got to WVU in January, which prompted his switch from strong safety to Star. But Walters himself told me he put on 15 pounds, so I'm not sure who to believe. Usually it's the player who exaggerates.

Keith Patterson's middle linebackers are Doug Rigg, Jared Barber, Troy Gloster, Nick Kwiatkowski and one other who doesn't appear on the roster we've been giving. At Buck, there's Francis, Tyler Anderson, Taige Redman, Chidoziem Ezemma and, when healthy, Jewone Snow.


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