Big 12: Ishmael Banks

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be analyzing the depth charts of every Big 12 team coming out of the spring. West Virginia released its depth chart after the spring but not every question was answered during the 15 practices as the Mountaineers have several position battles, including quarterback, that will last into August.

OFFENSE (starters in bold)

QB: Clint Trickett (Sr.), Logan Moore (Sr.) or Paul Millard (Sr.) or Skyler Howard (Jr.)

Trickett missed the spring with an injury yet emerged atop the depth chart. It’s fair to say the Mountaineers still have issues at quarterback. Coach Dana Holgorsen is confident his team will see someone step up. Regardless, the competition should last into August and incoming freshman William Crest will enter the mix this summer.

[+] EnlargeDreamius Smith
Dan Friend/USA TODAY SportsDreamius Smith leads a deep group of running backs.
RB: Dreamius Smith (Sr.), Wendell Smallwood (So.), Rushel Shell (So.), Dustin Garrison (Jr.), Andrew Buie (Jr.)
FB/TE: Cody Clay (Jr.), Elijah Wellman (RFr.)

Arguably the deepest position group in the entire Big 12. The Mountaineers go five deep with running backs who could be featured backs on several teams in the league and they will add four-star signee Donte Thomas-Williams into the competition this summer. Expect WVU to use its running backs together at times this fall. At fullback, Clay is underrated and could be a valuable weapon.

WR (X): Mario Alford (Sr.), Devonte Mathis (So.), Shelton Gibson (RFr.)
IR (H): Daikiel Shorts (So.), Jacky Marcellus (RFr.)
R (Y): Jordan Thompson (Jr.), Vernon Davis (So.)
WR (Z): Kevin White (Sr.), Kj Myers (Jr.), Ricky Rogers (Fr.)

WVU has athletes and playmakers at receiver, they just need a consistent quarterback to get those guys involved. There’s no Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey -- proven all-conference performers -- but Shorts has terrific upside and Alford came on at the end of the 2013 campaign. This is a solid group that will make plays if the quarterback situation sorts itself out.

LT: Adam Pankey (So.), Sylvester Townes (Jr.)
LG: Quinton Spain (Sr.), Russell Haughton-James (Jr.)
C: Tyler Orlosky (So.), Tony Matteo (So.)
RG: Mark Glowinski (Sr.), Stone Underwood (Jr.)
RT: Marquis Lucas (Jr.), Michael Calicchio (Sr.)

Spain is a great place to start at guard but the Mountaineers need this unit to improve if they hope to return to a bowl game this fall. Inexperience is a major concern with Pankey, Lucas and Orlosky moving into the starting lineup with seven combined career starts.

DEFENSE

DE: Dontrill Hyman (Sr.), Noble Nwachukwu (So.)
NT: Kyle Rose (Jr.), Darrien Howard (So.)
DE: Christian Brown (So.), Eric Kinsey (Jr.)

Will Clarke and Shaq Rowell are going to be extremely tough to replace. Rose moves inside to fill the void left by Rowell and should be solid in the middle but the new starters alongside him will have play well if the Mountaineers hope to improve on their 33.3 points allowed and 455 yards allowed per game in 2013. Brown returns from a foot injury a year ago and has the potential to be a force as early as this season. This unit has a ways to go if it hopes to find a place among the Big 12’s top defensive line units.

SAM: Isaiah Bruce (Jr.), Edward Muldrow (Jr.)
MIKE: Nick Kwiatkoski (Jr.), Al-Rasheed Benton (RFr.)
WILL: Brandon Golson (Sr.), Sean Walters (So.)

Bruce has made the move from the SPUR position to the SAM linebacker spot but should continue to be a key playmaker in WVU’s defense. Add Kwiakoski and Golson and the Mountaineers have one of the better linebacker groups in the Big 12.

RCB: Daryl Worley (So.), Keishawn Richardson (Jr.), Nana Kyeremeh (So.)
LCB: Ishmael Banks (Sr.), Terrell Chestnut (Jr.), Brandon Napoleon (So.)
FS: Jeremy Tyler (So.), Ricky Rumph (Jr.)
BS: Karl Joseph (Jr.), Jarrod Harper (So.)
SPUR: K.J. Dillon (Jr.), Malik Greaves (RFr.)

Don’t be surprised if Worley inserts his name among the Big 12’s top cornerbacks this fall, he’s that good. Tyler slides into the spot vacated by Darwin Cook and looks like a future playmaker in the secondary while Joseph and Banks have combined to start 39 games during their careers. It’s a good combination of youth and experience. WVU doesn’t have one of the Big 12’s top secondary units but it has the talent to rise to that level in 2014.
This week, we continue breaking down the 10 best players at the moment on every team in the Big 12.

These lists won’t include junior college or freshman signees who haven’t arrived on campus yet. Rather, they will include only the players currently on their teams this spring. Some of these rankings might look different after the spring, but this is how we see them now.

Next up, the West Virginia Mountaineers:

1. OG Quinton Spain: A fifth-year player with 26 career starts, Spain tops this list because he’s capable of starting practically anywhere on the West Virginia offensive line, with experience at both guard and tackle. The 6-foot-5, 342-pound mauler was honorable mention All-Big 12 a season ago and should only improve.

2. LB Nick Kwiatkoski: He has a chance to be one of the Big 12’s best linebackers this fall, and you’ve probably never heard of him. The junior’s stat line last season was impressive -- 86 tackles (54 solo), two sacks, 6.5 TFLs, three interceptions, two forced fumbles -- and he’ll anchor the defense that new coordinator Tony Gibson constructs.

3. RB Dreamius Smith: The junior college transfer rushed for 494 yards and five touchdowns last season as Charles Sims’ backup. He’ll have competition from Wendell Smallwood, Andrew Buie and Rushel Shell, but 2014 is Smith’s big opportunity to break out.

4. CB Daryl Worley: Why’s he so high on this list? Because Worley wowed his Mountaineers coaches as a freshman in 2013, starting five games and racking up 45 tackles, five pass breakups and an interception. He took on a lot of responsibility for a rookie and should show some serious growth in his second season.

5. S Karl Joseph: A starter from Day 1 at WVU, Joseph is moving from free safety to bandit safety this spring and could develop into a playmaker this fall. He brings as much experience as any junior on this defense with 68 tackles last season and 25 career starts.

[+] EnlargeDreamius Smith
Dan Friend/USA TODAY SportsWest Virginia tailback Dreamius Smith could be in for a breakout season in 2014.
6. WR Daikiel Shorts: Another talented freshman from last season. Shorts enrolled early last year and proved he belonged, starting nine games and tying for the team lead in receptions (45) for 495 yards and two scores. No matter who’s playing QB, Shorts can be a go-to guy.

7. OG Mark Glowinski: The tackles are a question mark for WVU, but coach Dana Holgorsen believes he has a pretty impressive guard combo. Glowinski, a former juco transfer, made a good impression in his first season as a starter after moving over from tackle to guard, and he played more snaps than any Mountaineers lineman in 2013.

8. WR Kevin White: Here’s the guy most likely to move up this list in the fall. The big, 6-3 target hauled in 35 passes for 507 yards and five touchdowns in his first season in Morgantown. It was hard to live up to the hype with how much WVU spread the ball around, but White had a couple big games and is definitely one to watch in 2014.

9. WR Mario Alford: Holgorsen has to love the competition he’ll have at receiver this offseason. It’s easy to forget all three of these top guys were newcomers a year ago and needed seasoning. Alford showed flashes, including a huge, 215-yard game vs. Iowa State, and finished with 552 receiving yards on 27 receptions last season.

10. CB Ishmael Banks: Lots of guys could have taken this last spot, including quarterback Clint Trickett, linebacker Brandon Golson and punter Nick O’Toole, but we’re going with the DB who goes by “Icky.” Banks brings three years of experience to the table and is having a solid spring.

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