Decision Time for Gillespie, WVU Rushers - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Decision Time for Gillespie, WVU Rushers

Posted:
MORGANTOWN -

Aside from its senior leader, the West Virginia running attack will feature a heavy dose of youth in the coming season.

On Saturday, running backs coach Robert Gillespie confirmed that Shawne Alston, who led the team in rushing in January's Orange Bowl, would start the season. A number of freshmen and sophomore ball carriers then fall in behind him.

Alston, who was not available for West Virginia's season opener a year ago, has proven in the games and in the practices since he made it back to full health that he can carry the load for the Mountaineers.

"Shawne's had a great camp and he's left the camp being the top guy," says Gillespie. "[Our] main focus now is to continue to keep him healthy and keep him focused and get him prepared for the first game."

Leading the list of candidates to take the next wave of snaps is sophomore rusher Andrew Buie, who finished 2011 with 172 yards on 51 carries.

Beyond those two returning candidates, the situation becomes slightly less clear.

The top performer last season, now-sophomore Dustin Garrison, is fighting to return to full strength after offseason surgery to repair damage to his ACL and his MCL.

Despite the work he has put in to be available for camp, he may not be close enough to his old self for the coaches to pull the trigger on him as a real option carrying the ball. 

"He's a tough kid," Gillespie says of Garrison. "He's really the kind of kid to where you have to make sure that he's being honest with you when you ask how he's feeling because he won't say he's hurting. He showed a lot of toughness."

The decision now is whether or not the toughness will trump what Garrison may be truly feeling physically at this point with just two weeks of preparation remaining before the season begins. If he cannot go full strength, there is still the option of redshirting the player who racked up 742 yards and six touchdowns in his first year of collegiate football.

That discussion is ongoing within the walls of the Milan Puskar Center as Gillespie and his fellow coaches determine the best course of action.

"As a staff, we have to sit down and talk to the medical staff and see what's the best thing for him," says Gillespie. "Is he strong enough to go in there and protect himself, first of all, and also is he strong enough to go in there and help us win some games? [He] Did a really good job, but we'll sit down here in the next couple of days and make a final decision on that."

A new crop of freshmen who could step into the backfield this season includes the 5-foot-9, 196-pound Florida native Torry Clayton and Miramar product D'Vontis Arnold.

A walk-on to the program, Arnold has caught Gillespie's attention as an athlete capable of pulling his weight and delivering for the team if he were called upon when it counts.
"He came here for free and has paid his own way, but he's a guy that's worked his way into being a guy that we can trust and be comfortable with as a staff if we had to put him in the game," Gillespie says of Arnold.

As a graduate of a high school program that currently boasts six players on the WVU roster, Arnold is just another in a list of athletes who are familiar with each other for the Mountaineers' offense.

While he hasn't played on the same field as the likes of Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey, the connection is there, along with fellow freshman Devonte Mathis, who happens to be playing under scholarship.

"He came in here, he's been able to take some quality reps and done a real good job. So he's a guy that got a lot of carries today," Gillespie said of Saturday's practice. "[I] wanted to see the twos and threes get in there and compete and D'Vontis Arnold did a real good job today."

The depth chart will shake itself out on the field when the season begins, but right now, Gillespie is faced with a few decisions that make the next two weeks a very important time for some players at his position.

  • More SportsMore>>

  • Tough Match Halts No. 7 WVU's Run

    Tough Match Halts No. 7 WVU's Run

    Sunday, November 19 2017 8:43 PM EST2017-11-20 01:43:27 GMT
    Grace Cutler and Carla Portillo share a hug after WVU's Sweet 16 loss to Penn St.Grace Cutler and Carla Portillo share a hug after WVU's Sweet 16 loss to Penn St.

    The No. 7-ranked and second-seeded WVU women's soccer team came up short this evening its quest for a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

    The No. 7-ranked and second-seeded WVU women's soccer team came up short this evening its quest for a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

  • No. 7 Mountaineers Move On

    No. 7 Mountaineers Move On

    Saturday, November 18 2017 8:23 AM EST2017-11-18 13:23:09 GMT
    Rylee Foster and Nikki Izzo-Brown celebrate WVU's win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.Rylee Foster and Nikki Izzo-Brown celebrate WVU's win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    The No. 7 West Virginia University women's soccer team is moving on to the Sweet 16.

    The No. 7 West Virginia University women's soccer team is moving on to the Sweet 16.

  • 2018 Baseball Schedule Unveiled

    2018 Baseball Schedule Unveiled

    Thursday, November 16 2017 4:31 PM EST2017-11-16 21:31:39 GMT
    The WVU baseball team stands for the national anthem before a 4-2 win over Penn State at PNC Park. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)The WVU baseball team stands for the national anthem before a 4-2 win over Penn State at PNC Park. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

    Highlighted by 23 home games and 21 games against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2017, West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons has announced the 2018 baseball schedule.

    Highlighted by 23 home games and 21 games against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2017, West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons has announced the 2018 baseball schedule.

  • FootballFootballMore>>

  • WVU Football Coach Holgorsen Talks Oklahoma

    WVU Football Coach Holgorsen Talks Oklahoma

    Dana Holgorsen circles the team huddle in the second half of a WVU win at Kansas. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)Dana Holgorsen circles the team huddle in the second half of a WVU win at Kansas. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
    Watch West Virginia Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen address the media regarding the Mountaineers' match-up with Oklahoma.
    Watch West Virginia Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen address the media regarding the Mountaineers' match-up with Oklahoma.
  • WVU Football OC Spavital and Players Talk Oklahoma Match-Up

    WVU Football OC Spavital and Players Talk Oklahoma Match-Up

    Watch full video interviews with West Virginia Football Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital and his Players, as they talk about their game, on the road, against Oklahoma.

    Watch full video interviews with West Virginia Football Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital and his Players, as they talk about their game, on the road, against Oklahoma.

  • Sills V Named Biletnikoff Award Finalist

    Monday, November 20 2017 5:54 PM EST2017-11-20 22:54:06 GMT
    David Sills has been named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)David Sills has been named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)

     David Sills V was named one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award.

     David Sills V was named one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Best Pokemon Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals of 2017 Revealed by Deal Tomato

    Best Pokemon Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals of 2017 Revealed by Deal Tomato

    Deal Tomato have researched the best Pokemon Black Friday deals available for 2017. Hereâ??s their top choices: 100 Assorted Pokemon Trading Cards on sale â?? Amazon (Prime delivery) Nintendo 3DS â?? Pokemon 20th...
    Deal Tomato have researched the best Pokemon Black Friday deals available for 2017. Hereâ??s their top choices: 100 Assorted Pokemon Trading Cards on sale â?? Amazon (Prime delivery) Nintendo 3DS â?? Pokemon 20th...
  • 2017-18 WVU Men’s Basketball Schedule

    2017-18 WVU Men’s Basketball Schedule

    Bob Huggins looks on as the Mountaineers practice at the SAP Center in San Jose. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)Bob Huggins looks on as the Mountaineers practice at the SAP Center in San Jose. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 31, 2017) – West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons and the Big 12 Conference have announced the 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule. 

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 31, 2017) – West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons and the Big 12 Conference have announced the 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule. 

  • WVi Has Moved!

    WVi Has Moved!

    Friday, September 2 2011 1:45 PM EDT2011-09-02 17:45:05 GMT
    Don't worry, wvillustrated.com is still alive and well. WVi has upgraded to a brand new and improved website. Please check out http://www.wvillustrated.com/ We hope you enjoy the new WVi experience.
  • Report: West Virginia Ranks 10th for Most Violent States on Black Friday

    Report: West Virginia Ranks 10th for Most Violent States on Black Friday

    Wednesday, November 22 2017 7:57 PM EST2017-11-23 00:57:56 GMT
    djLicious / Flickr / CC BY 2.0djLicious / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
    WEST VIRGINIA (WOWK) - All across the United States, Black Friday gives people a chance to score great deals on Christmas and holiday gifts and capture their dream electronics. But sometimes those rock-bottom savings turn into a dangerous siren song, and people go too far in their quest for a cheap TV or Hatchimals for their kid. The Mountain State has received a high violence ranking when it comes to Black Friday. According to Reviews, West Virginia ranks tenth in the U.S.&nb...
    WEST VIRGINIA (WOWK) - All across the United States, Black Friday gives people a chance to score great deals on Christmas and holiday gifts and capture their dream electronics. But sometimes those rock-bottom savings turn into a dangerous siren song, and people go too far in their quest for a cheap TV or Hatchimals for their kid. The Mountain State has received a high violence ranking when it comes to Black Friday. According to Reviews, West Virginia ranks tenth in the U.S.&nb...
  • Successful Surgery for Grier, Mayfield Not Starting Against WVU

    Monday, November 20 2017 2:55 PM EST2017-11-20 19:55:53 GMT
    Will Grier heads to the locker room after disloacting his finger on Saturday. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)Will Grier heads to the locker room after disloacting his finger on Saturday. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)

    Grier will be out 4-6 weeks after a successful surgery on Sunday. It was also announced that Baker Mayfield won't be the starting quarterback on Saturday against WVU as disciplinary action.

    Grier will be out 4-6 weeks after a successful surgery on Sunday. It was also announced that Baker Mayfield won't be the starting quarterback on Saturday against WVU as disciplinary action.

  • WVU Football Coach Holgorsen Talks Oklahoma

    WVU Football Coach Holgorsen Talks Oklahoma

    Dana Holgorsen circles the team huddle in the second half of a WVU win at Kansas. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)Dana Holgorsen circles the team huddle in the second half of a WVU win at Kansas. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
    Watch West Virginia Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen address the media regarding the Mountaineers' match-up with Oklahoma.
    Watch West Virginia Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen address the media regarding the Mountaineers' match-up with Oklahoma.
  • West, Konate Pace Monday Night's Rout

    West, Konate Pace Monday Night's Rout

    Bob Huggins looks on during the final moments of a win over Baylor in Waco. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)Bob Huggins looks on during the final moments of a win over Baylor in Waco. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

     Lamont West scored 22 points and sophomore center Sagaba Konate contributed a career-high 20 to lead 23rd-ranked West Virginia to a 91-62 victory over Long Beach State here tonight at the WVU Coliseum.  

     Lamont West scored 22 points and sophomore center Sagaba Konate contributed a career-high 20 to lead 23rd-ranked West Virginia to a 91-62 victory over Long Beach State here tonight at the WVU Coliseum.  

  • WVU Football OC Spavital and Players Talk Oklahoma Match-Up

    WVU Football OC Spavital and Players Talk Oklahoma Match-Up

    Watch full video interviews with West Virginia Football Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital and his Players, as they talk about their game, on the road, against Oklahoma.

    Watch full video interviews with West Virginia Football Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital and his Players, as they talk about their game, on the road, against Oklahoma.