West Virginia is heading into week three of fall camp, and there is optimism surrounding the offensive line – a group that has struggled to find depth in the first two years under head coach Neal Brown.
“It’s the first year I’ve really had a true competition,” said offensive line coach Matt Moore before noting that there’s some competition along the o-line “instead of just trying to find five guys.”
West Virginia returns three of their five starters from a year ago, losing center Chase Behrndt and right guard Michael Brown to graduation.
Zach Frazier will take over at center. He started the 2020 season opener for a suspended Behrndt as a true freshman before taking over starting duties at left guard for James Gmiter, who missed time due to COVID-19 related issues.
At right guard, the staff brought in Virginia Tech Doug Nester to fill the void, but redshirt freshman Jordan White developed faster than expected, and the two have been splitting reps at right guard. All three interior offensive linemen have been rotating during fall camp. Gmiter has taken snaps at left guard and center. Doug Nester and White have played at both guard positions, with White also getting reps at center. Then, Nick Malone has slid down to left guard but has not yet put himself in the mix.
Brandon Yates returns at left tackle after starting all 10 games last season as a redshirt freshman. Ja’Quay Hubbard has been taking reps with the second team. Moore noted he has completely changed his body in his second year in the program and plays with an “unbelievable effort.” This is the only spot there is some concern with depth because of youth. The staff is high on Hubbard but still makes mistakes due to inexperience.
The biggest competition comes at right tackle. 2020 started John Hughes returns, but redshirt sophomore Parker Moorer and freshman Wyatt Milum have surpassed Hughes and have been splitting reps.
“Wyatt’s really come in and done a really good job of knowing the offense and just playing with outstanding effort, and Parker has made himself way better in the last year,” said Moore.