The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

May 2, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: History shows QB Crest needs time to develop

MORGANTOWN — Can a freshman – in this case namely William Crest – come in to West Virginia University this year and win the starting quarterback job?

This is no rhetorical question. It has an answer.

And the answer is no, not this year.

Right now the Mountaineers are a team with four quarterbacks and no quarterback.

Clint Trickett, who emerged as the starter last season but played through a dismal 4-8 season with an injured shoulder that required postseason surgery, is listed on the depth chart as the starter.

That is not a plus, for three men tried to oust him during a spring when he could not partake and could not do it.

There is little reason to believe that if Trickett comes back in August that Logan Moore, Paul Millard or Skyler Howard would have improved to the point of winning the job away.

In other words, it’s Trickett’s job to lose.

But William Crest is the unknown, a first-year freshman whom they would love to have the luxury of redshirting.

What are the chances to believe that Crest could move in and start?

I’m here to answer that one for you.

None.

Think about it for a minute.

You’re asking a kid just months removed from high school, without a spring practice under his belt, to come in and learn a system that apparently is more complicated than advertised by head coach Dana Holgorsen when he came in.

That was proved last year when Trickett, who had graduated college and started and won some games for a Florida State team that was building toward a national champions, could not get a grasp on what was going on when he came in without a spring practice.

In fact, he was beaten out by a redshirt freshman in Ford Childress and by Paul Millard, both of whom started before he finally was inserted.

And the truth is he never really had a full grasp on the system, from getting the signs from the sidelines to picking out the right receivers, which kept WVU from playing as fast as it would like and which produced less offense than Holgorsen had ever had out of a team he coached.

But if you look deeper into the best quarterbacks WVU has had in recent years, they could not win starting jobs out of high school.

Pat White had turned downed down a $400,000 offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers to come to WVU and play football, sitting out a redshirt season and then not even being able to start right away, being eased into action behind Adam Bednarik.

He came off the bench to lead a magnificent comeback against Louisville and when finally inserted as the starter, following a Bednarik injury, he went 5-0 … but he could not start as a true freshman.

Before him there was Marc Bulger, a scrawny freshman with back problems who came out of Pittsburgh. He redshirted one year, then did not start a game his freshman season, being used just in six games.

And after White there was Geno Smith, who played only five games in his freshman season before going on to rewrite all the passing records Bulger had set.

The point is that even the most talented freshmen need time to ease into the job.

You aren’t just taking a step up in football … your entire world is changing.

A freshman, no matter how much support a football program can give him, is in a new world, dealing with being on his own, classes, being interviewed and playing on national television. He is making new friends and doesn’t have the support group he leaned so heavily upon in high school.

Now put the pressure on him of trying to not only learn a new system, work out timing with new players, working with new coaches on a stage far beyond anything they could imagine, opening with Alabama in Atlanta and …

You get the idea, it’s a near impossible task for a freshman, even one as talented as Crest is supposed to be as he comes to WVU from Baltimore’s Dunbar High School, the same school that sent Tavon Austin to WVU.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

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