Spring football drills at West Virginia University are still more than a month away, but the anticipation is building for senior-to-be Josh Jenkins and his Mountaineer teammates.
"We are actually looking forward to it (spring drills)," said the former Parkersburg High School standout and one of just two Big Reds to earn fist team all-state honors for three seasons.
Helping to fuel that anticipation is West Virginia's season-ending loss to N.C. State (23-7) in the Champs Sports Bowl as well as a number of coaching changes-among those the departure of offensive line coach Dave Johnson.
"As players you can't look at change as a bad thing," added Jenkins, who has 24 starts at left guard and was named to the Big East's second team this past season.
"You've got to take a positive look at it (the change).
"Change can be good because I'm going to learn new things from a new coach."
That new coach will be Bill Bedenbaugh.
Bedenbaugh comes to Morgantown after coaching at the University of Arizona the past four seasons.
The St. Charles, Ill., native served as the Wildcats' offensive line and running game coordinator for the past three years before being elevated to co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 2010.
Prior to his stint at Arizona, Bedenbaugh spent seven years at Texas Tech (2000-06), the first three as an offensive graduate assistant, working with the offensive line, the next two as the running backs coach and his final two as the offensive line coach.
"He (Bedenbaugh) knows a lot," continued Jenkins.
"Coach Johnson knew a lot. I'm going to try and take what I learn from both coaches and hopefully that will make me a better lineman."
The Mountain State's only two-time winner of the Hunt Award-given annually to the top high school lineman in West Virginia -may also be finding himself doing as much teaching as learning, especially with the expected absence of senior-to-be Don Barclay and junior-to-be Joe Madsen along the offensive front.
Both starters were reported to have surgeries following the bowl game and their availability for spring drills is doubtful at best.
"I became more vocal as the season went on this past year," said Jenkins.
"I am going to be one of the most experienced guys on the line so I need to take more of a leadership role."
West Virginia, which finished 9-4 for the third straight season, loses only right guard/center Eric Jobe as well as backup tackle Matt Zimmerman from the offensive line.
In addition to Jenkins, Barclay and Madsen, WVU returns starting right tackle Jeff Braun and his primary backup Pat Eger as well as former Cabell Midland standout Cole Bowers and backup center John Bassler.
Also look for heavily-recruited offensive tackle Quinton Spain to get plenty of work this spring.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org