MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Spring football opens Sunday at West Virginia and with it starts the competition to replace Geno Smith at quarterback.
Coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday at the team's annual football luncheon that he does not expect to name a starter until fall camp and insisted the competition is wide open.
All four quarterbacks on the roster will have a shot, he said: Smith's backup Paul Millard, a junior in the fall; redshirt freshman Ford Childress; true freshman Chavas Rawlins of Monessen,; and Fairmont State transfer Logan Moore.
"Paul's got more experience, probably understands the offense better than the other guys, but that doesn't mean we're going to give him more reps," said Holgorsen. "Ford is very motivated at this point right now. It's hard to be a redshirt freshman quarterback, so he wasn't nearly as motivated a year ago as he is right now. He's doing good.
"Chavas is where both [of] those kids were a year ago and two years ago in terms of being new, trying to soak it all in. I haven't seen him take a snap yet in college so we are going to have a lot of opportunity to evaluate these guys."
Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said the reps at practice will be divided equally to start the spring but will change as the candidates separate themselves.
Millard, 6-foot-2, 219 pounds, is the only quarterback with game experience, though it is negligible.
He appeared in seven games last season completing 9 of 19 passes with one interception, and saw action in four games in 2011, completing 7 of 15 passes with two interceptions.
Childress, a 6-5, 234-pound prospect from Houston, Texas, enrolled in January 2012, but was suspended for the spring game last year.
Rawlins, a 6-2, 190-pound running-passing threat, enrolled in January after his senior season at Monessen High School, and his emergence this spring would be surprising, as it would be for Moore, the 5-11, 200-poind Fairmont State transfer.
The spring game will be April 20.
"Nobody is going to get more [reps] than the other. Not in the beginning," said Dawson.
"Everyone will get equal reps as practices go, and, as people do better, we'll flip reps accordingly.
"I think it breeds more competition in the summer."
Holgorsen, who has brought his offense from Texas Tech to Houston to Oklahoma State and now West Virginia, said it's the first competition he has had at the position since 2008, his first season in Houston when Case Keenum won the job.
"I'm more anxious than you are," said Holgorsen.
"As this thing goes on, we will discuss it. We've got a lot of practices ahead of us. We won't name a starter for a while. We've got three, four guys there -- Paul Millard, Ford Childress and Chavas Rawlins, who is doing a great job in the offseason. He has got some talent to him. Logan Moore from Fairmont is doing some good things."
Is there a drop dead date in fall? Week one, of course, said Dawson.
"That first week you want one, that preparation week. You can't go into that week giving half the reps to both guys," he said.
Holgorsen said it's a matter of letting it play out.
"Coach Dawson will drill them every day and get them out there for 20, 30 or 40 minutes and just drill them. They need a lot of drill work and a lot of team snaps -- they need a lot of skill reps, they need a lot of inside reps and to just to get comfortable with the offense," said Holgorsen.
"Again, we will evaluate them, but they are going to show so much improvement and we will see whichever guy shows the most improvements and puts us in the best position to be successful. [Then,] we will actually make that decision."
NOTES -- Holgorsen did not appear to be in a hurry to find a replacement for running backs coach Robert Gillespie who took a job at Tennessee nine days before spring drills begin. "I would imagine we'll probably find a coach" he said. ... Receiver Dante Campbell (shoulder) and corner Terrell Chestnut (knee) will miss spring practice after surgeries. Offensive lineman Pat Eger (ankle), linebacker Wes Tonkery (foot) and cornerback Avery Williams will be limited to noncontact work. ... Holgorsen said Eger, a senior, and redshirt freshman Tyler Orlosky are potential candidates to replace Joe Madsen at center.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published March 6, 2013 5:00 AM