MORGANTOWN-West Virginia University senior Josh Jenkins knew things would be different when spring drills began in late March. But, not even the two-time winner of the Hunt Award realized just how different things would become.
"This spring?" asked the former Parkersburg High three-time all-state player. "This spring is like coming into my freshman year of camp. I've got to learn everything new."
Bringing about those changes was a decision by first-year Director of Athletics Oliver Luck to release offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen as well as assistant coaches Chris Beatty, Dave Johnson and Dave McMichael, to hire Dana Holgorsen as the team's newest offensive coordinator, and to name him as the team's coach-in-waiting - taking over the head coaching duties following the 2011 season.
Photo by Jim Butta
West Virginia offensive tackle Josh Jenkins (77) keeps linebacker Casey Vance (43) from getting into the Mountaineer backfield during spring drills.
"I've got to prove myself to the coaches again," Jenkins said. "And, at the same time, continue to get better."
That means going all-out on every play during spring drills and performing as if he and his Mountaineer teammates were playing in the national championship.
"The way we practice, that's the biggest difference I can tell right now. We are practicing a lot faster."
And, on the offensive side at least, with a completely different coaching staff.
In addition to Holgorsen, the Mountaineers brought in Bill Bedenbaugh to take over the offensive line duties, Shannon Dawson (receivers) and Robert Gillespie (running backs). When Lonnie Galloway left to take a coaching position at another school, former Detroit Lions' receiver coach Daron Roberts came to WVU.
"It's been very hard," continued Jenkins. "I liked coach Johnson. He taught me a lot of things. Heck, he got me to where I am now. It's tough to change coaches, but it's good to learn from different coaches."
Which is what the Mountaineers have been doing so far this spring.
Making matters a little more difficult for Jenkins is the loss, at least for the spring, of senior tackle Don Barclay who, along with junior Jeff Braun, will miss the entire spring while recovering from off-season surgery.
"Me and Donnie have this bond. I know exactly what he is going to do and he knows exactly what I am going to do."
Taking Barclay's place has been redshirt freshman Quinton Spain (6-5, 348).
"I feel really comfortable beside Quinton. He's listening to me, he is communicating on the line. I'm correcting him and he's taking it good because he has things he still needs to work on."
The loss of Barclay and Braun hasn't gone unnoticed, however.
"We've only got eight or nine linemen in camp," said Jenkins. "So, it is really hard to tell if we will have enough depth. Plus, we'll have to wait and see what the new freshmen can do because they aren't here."
One thing that has become clear, however, is that starting over can be a good thing. Especially, if you take the approach that Jenkins and his Mountaineer teammates have taken this spring.