Posted by on January 13, 2015 3:00 pm
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Categories: NFLPros

It was an embarrassment of riches for West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen this past season.

Holgorsen utilized one of the deepest running back depth charts in both the Big 12 Conference and college football in general led by Pitt transfer Rushel Shell with Wendell Smallwood, Dreamius Smith, Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison contributing to the West Virginia ground game.

It will be another position for West Virginia loaded with talent and competition for who’ll emerge as starter for the Mountaineers’ season opener against Georgia Southern on September 5.

Like the running back position in 2014, the quarterback position will experience the same type of depth with a number of incumbent players and new recruits who are ready to make their presence felt over the spring and summer to be starting quarterback in 2015.

Skyler Howard, who replaced Clint Trickett in West Virginia’s loss to Kansas State in November, returns for his junior season after throwing for 829 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions over the final two games and a Liberty Bowl loss to Texas A&M on December 29. Despite struggling to get the ball to his receivers at times, Howard ran the offense efficiently, using his running ability to keep both plays and drives alive to score points for West Virginia.

Before a shoulder injury caused him to play in just one game last season, William Crest will work through the rust of not being in any game-action since West Virginia’s shutout of Towson last September. Crest’s running ability with a healthy shoulder could make him a dual-threat option the team hasn’t had in some time.

Paul Millard also returns after being redshirted a year ago, and will bring veteran quarterback leadership after being a part of the team over the past four seasons.

Joining Howard, Crest and Millard on a crowded quarterback depth chart are David Sills, a four-star recruit from Eastern Christian Academy in Maryland, and Chris Chugunov, a three-star recruit from Montgomery High School in Skillman, New Jersey, who both enrolled at West Virginia for the spring semester, announced Monday.

With due respect to Millard, the quarterback race will likely come down to who emerges between Howard, Crest, Sills and Chugunov over the course of the spring and summer.

Howard and Crest bring a more athletic style to the quarterback position being able to escape the pocket and keep drives alive with their legs, while Sills and Chugunov, who were highly rated pocket passers by recruiting experts like Rivals and 247Sports, would bring more of a traditional style that Holgorsen has had success with at West Virginia and over his coaching career.

With just a small sample size after replacing the now-retired Clint Trickett late this season, Howard still should enter the spring practice sessions as the leader to be starting quarterback with Crest being the next in line, as it’s unknown of how quickly Sills and Chugunov can develop before this year’s season opener. If Howard cleans up accuracy with his receivers, he could continue as West Virginia quarterback being backed up by Crest, leaving Sills and Chugunov in the best situation to be redshirted for 2016.

As seen with the inconsistency following a revolving door at quarterback in 2013, a decision on whoever becomes starting quarterback must be final to avoid that same trouble from two years ago in what likely will be an important year for both Holgorsen and the football program.

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