Thursday, February 14, 2013
Big shoes to fill: West Virginia
By David Ubben
We'll kick off a new series today looking at the players across the Big 12 who have to replace program legends. We might as well call this the Nick Florence Memorial team, but we'll kick off at the bottom of the alphabet with West Virginia.
Big shoes to fill: WR Jordan Thompson
There will be a ton of talk this offseason about replacing Geno Smith, but great receivers can make even an average quarterback look a whole lot better. Replacing a player with Tavon Austin's kind of quickness is basically impossible, but the importance of doing so for the Mountaineers will be huge in 2013 with Ford Childress or Paul Millard stepping in for Smith. Thompson made a big impact in the spring but caught just 13 passes for 75 yards once the fall arrived. West Virginia's top three receivers (Stedman Bailey, J.D. Woods, Austin) are all gone and two of its other top six transferred during the season (Travares Copeland, Ivan McCartney). So to put it simply, Thompson doesn't really have a choice. He's got to be great in 2013 for West Virginia's offense to keep rolling under Dana Holgorsen.
There will be room for freshmen and juco transfers like Shelton Gibson and Kevin White to make an impact, but the scary truth is a rising sophomore in his second season on campus is the best hope to fill the enormous void left behind from Austin and Bailey. Together they accounted for 224 receptions, 2,914 yards and 37 touchdowns.