West Virginia’s seniors key piece of school’s move to Big 12 | TribLIVE.com
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West Virginia linebacker Wes Tonkery (37) knocks down a pass attempt by Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings during the third quarter Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s seniors will play their final home game Thursday night against No. 12 Kansas State. Most of them are saying goodbye when it seems they were just saying hello.

Thirteen of the 19 senior night honorees are transfers who competed for one or two seasons.

Defensive end Shaq Riddick (Gardner-Webb), safety Cullen Christian (Michigan, Pitt), a former Penn Hills star, and quarterback Clint Trickett (Florida State) transferred from four-year schools. The others, including running back Dreamius Smith, receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford, and guard Mark Glowinski, arrived via junior college.

“It’s an odd class,” coach Dana Holgorsen said, noting the presence of only five fifth-year seniors and one fourth-year senior.

The veterans for WVU (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) who stuck it out for five seasons are guard Quinton Spain, linebacker Wes Tonkery, cornerback Icky Banks, kickoff specialist Michael Molinari and offensive tackle Michael Calicchio. All redshirted in 2010, when the Mountaineers belonged to the Big East and Bill Stewart was the coach.

“There’s just not very many guys that have been in the program for four and five years,” Holgorsen said. “We had to get some four-year transfers, and we had to get some junior college transfers to come in and increase the talent, which I think we’ve accomplished that, and to get the numbers to where they’re healthy as well.”

Holgorsen said the number of “program guys” will increase.

“I think we’re getting to that point where we have some four-year guys,” he said. “Of course, we are always going to mix in some junior college guys. I doubt that the next year or the year after that we’re going to have 67 percent of our senior class transfers like it is this year. That number will continue to go down.”

With a senior class numbering about 30 next season, “the majority of them (will) have been in the program four or five years,” Holgorsen said. “That is what Baylor, TCU and Kansas State have going for them right now.”

A passing thing

After starting with seven straight games of 300 yards passing or more, Trickett has failed to hit the total in the last three games: a win over Oklahoma State and losses to TCU and Texas.

“Our opponent has something to do with that,” Holgorsen said. “TCU is very good defensively, and they don’t give up much in the pass game. The only team better than that in the Big 12 is Texas. Texas doesn’t give up any yards in the pass game. They are just good at it. … I think the opponent has something to do with that issue.”

TCU is the only Big 12 team holding opponents to less than 50 percent passing. Texas leads the conference in fewest passing yards allowed. Thursday’s opponent, K-State (7-2, 5-1), is fourth in passing yards allowed and fourth in interceptions. The good news for Trickett is the Wildcats are eighth in sacks.

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected]

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