Steve Slaton

West Virginia’s Steve Slaton carries the ball during the Mountaineers’ first fall practice Saturday at Mountaineer Field/Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.

Coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday evening he’s pleased with the progress of quarterbacks Jarrett Brown and Nate Sowers in West Virginia’s first three days of football practice.

The two redshirt freshmen are battling for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind starter Patrick White.

“They’re both emerging probably at the same rate, and it’s been a good rate,” Rodriguez said. “I really think that all three quarterbacks did a good job this summer on their own, studying the offense and coming prepared mentally.”

White, a sparkling sophomore who started the last six games in 2005, has been very, very sharp, according to the head man.

“Jarrett and Nate have made a few mistakes, but they’ve gotten better mentally. I see a big difference between now and spring.”

Rodriguez, encouraged by such improvement, said he’s not really worried about one of the two pulling away.

“They weren’t ready to be the next guy at the end of spring practice. But at the end of camp, I hope both will be ready. We’ll need somebody.”

Rodriguez wishes he had more than three signal-callers in camp. That’s because their throwing arms become weary.

“We have to be conscious of that,” he said. “But I’d like to see the two rookies continue to make progress because neither has played before.

“Until they get into a game, we are not going to let them get hit in camp (to prevent injury). I like the way both are practicing.”

Meantime, Rodriguez insisted that he wasn’t happy with Monday’s practice session.

“I don’t know whether it was the heat or the third straight day in shorts,” he said. “I think our guys try hard. But we’ve got a lot of players cramping up.

“And we’re certainly not close to resembling a championship football team. But we’ve got 25 days to do that.”

Rodriguez said Ed Collington, 6-0, 200-pound sophomore running back from Pittsburgh, is coming along pretty well.

“He shows some burst out there. I think he’s got a chance to be in the rotation. He looks like he can help us this year.”

Collington sat out last season as a non-qualifier.

NOTES:

• WVU coaches have slowed down play-installation purposely to help the newcomers in their learning process.

• Owen Schmitt, who started at fullback last year, also will line up at times as a tailback. He’s certainly important to the offense.

• Rodriguez said All-America center Dan Mozes will be a leader on offense and Academic All-America linebacker Jay Henry a leader on defense.

• This year’s senior class has the opportunity to become the all-time winningest in school history, Rodriguez noted.

• He said the linebacking corps is the deepest in his six years at the helm. The defensive line has more depth, too.

• The battle between senior Abraham Jones and redshirt freshman Quinton Andrews for the nod at free safety looms as one of the team’s best.

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