The college football season is almost here. The West Virginia Mountaineers report to their first day of fall training camp Friday in preparation for the 2019 season.
WVU football camp begins with a lot of changes to the roster. Neal Brown takes over at head coach with Dana Holgorsen off to Houston.
Brown inherits a talented roster, including a lot of players who helped the Mountaineers go 8-4 overall last year.
As with any successful program, WVU did lose its share of quality players to the NFL. Left tackle Yodny Cajuste, quarterback Will Grier and receiver David Sills V have all moved on to playing on Sundays.
The team’s biggest concern entering August practice will be which quarterback will lead WVU going forward. Coach Brown has several candidates who each bring a little different skill set to the field.
With camp about to start, let’s examine WVU’s quarterback situation and who will lead the Mountaineers in 2019.
Austin Kendall came to Morgantown intending to be the starting quarterback this year. The Oklahoma transfer has been forced to sit behind the likes of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray the last few seasons in Norman.
Kendall was a top-10 quarterback recruit when he committed to OU in 2016. Unfortunately, he just hasn’t seen much of the field because of the Heisman winners ahead of him on the depth chart.
In minimal action in 2018, Kendall went 12-17 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Brown brought in Kendall to help try to fill the shoes of Grier, who started the last two seasons for WVU. The Carolina Panthers’ third-round pick threw for at least 3,400 yards and 34 touchdowns in each of the past two years.
No matter who ends up starting, they will have a tough time matching Grier’s production.
After recruiting Kendall out of high school as an assistant with Kentucky, Brown decided to try again this year. Even though he hasn’t won the starting job yet, Kendall probably has the most potential on the roster.
In a Big 12 Conference where there is plenty of scoring, the Mountaineers will need a dynamic quarterback to keep them in games.
Brown can see why Kendall was so highly regarded coming to college. According to Tulsa World, he said:
“Austin Kendall is extremely smart. He sees the game very well, has great leadership skills, has a quick release and is accurate. He has some gamesmanship about him.”
It seems like the coaching staff wants Kendall to be the guy; he just has to go out there and prove it. A case of plantar fasciitis may have kept him from reaching his full potential this spring.
Kendall spoke about the opportunity:
“(Transferring to West Virginia is) a great opportunity for me and a great situation. Having a prior relationship with coach Brown really helped.”
Hopefully, for Kendall and WVU fans, he’s able to grab control of this quarterback battle and help the Mountaineers all season long.
The other quarterback in the mix for the starting role is Jack Allison. The 6’6” Junior was also a transfer like Kendall. He made a move to WVU after starting his college career in Miami.
Oddly enough, Allison made a start for the Mountaineers last year in their most important game of the season. With Grier sitting out for draft purposes, Allison started in a losing effort in the Camping World Bowl against Syracuse.
In total for the season, the quarterback was 23-45 through the air for 352 yards, including one touchdown and two interceptions.
Although he too hasn’t shown enough to be named the starter yet, he has kept Kendall from doing so. That’s saying something when Kendall has only been behind two first-overall selections in the NFL draft.
Coach Brown discussed where he was at in terms of his quarterbacks at Big 12 media days. He said:
“It’s wide-open. We went through spring practice and basically split the reps with the three guys — Jack Allison, Austin Kendall, Trey Lowe — and carried that competition into the summer and into fall camp.”
Whether or not Allison can hold off Kendall is one thing, but having competition at a position is usually good. Both players will push each other, and in the end, WVU should have a capable backup option if the starter doesn’t work out.
The third wild card in this equation is redshirt freshman Trey Lowe. The quarterback is a supreme athlete and brings more of a running aspect to the offense compared to the other two.
In fact, Lowe is so athletic that he plays outfield for the WVU baseball team.
Lowe was a terrific quarterback in high school, earning the right to be one of five semifinalists for Mr. Football in Tennessee. He finished his high school career with more than 5,500 passing yards to go along with 78 total touchdowns.
Of course, it would be crazy to think Lowe can win the starting job over the two veterans on the roster, but you never know.
Despite his slim chances to start, Lowe has the type of skills coach Brown will be able to utilize as a change-of-pace option going forward. He should see multiple snaps every game.
“I really think with these quarterback competitions, it’s not really the coach that’s choosing them; it’s the guy that separates himself. I really feel like we’re in a position where one of the three quarterbacks is going to separate himself from the competition after a scrimmage or two in fall camp.”
With this quarterback competition fully engaged heading into training camp, WVU fans have plenty to pay attention to in the following weeks.
College football sports betting in WV
Regardless of who starts under center, WV sportsbooks should be busy with betting action for the foreseeable future. Plenty of bettors will be taking futures on WVU before the season and on individual games throughout the year.
At the moment, there are three active books in the WV sports betting market:
Although there are still no online sports betting apps in the Mountain State, the WV Lottery has approved multiple operators to launch. These include:
It’s difficult to tell when one of these online sportsbooks will debut in WV, but bettors are hopeful it’s before the football season. There have been reports that FanDuel or DraftKings will be available sooner than later.