West Virginia notebook: Kicking off preseason camp

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West Virginia opened its fall football camp Thursday, giving the Mountaineers just under a month to prepare to face powerhouse Alabama in the Chick-fil-A kickoff game in Atlanta.

"I thought we had a good first day," said coach Dana Holgorsen. "Everybody in the country has a good first day. I promise you that. The guys were pretty fired up to be out there."

Injury updates

Three players are on the physically-unable-to-perform list: Wide receiver Jacky Marcellus had knee surgery and will be out until January, offensive lineman Amanii Brown is still recovering from knee surgery but is expected to be practicing later this month. Russell Haughton-James, another offensive lineman, is due back about the same time.

Safety K.J. Dillon will be out a week or so after injuring an ankle on a day off. Linebacker Brandon Golson is recovering from shoulder surgery but likely to return soon, and linebacker Jared Barber (knee) was wearing a red shirt and running laps around the field. He is not likely to return for at least another month.

Smallwood practices

Sophomore running back Wendell Smallwood took part in the full first-day practice after recently being cleared of all his intimidation charges in Delaware. He is not expected to face a suspension.

"It's hard to put these running backs on an actual depth chart right now because we got so many of them," Holgorsen said. "We're just going to be able to rep them and rep them and kind of sort out what guys do what."

Inside receiver spot open

Marcellus was a possible option to play inside receiver, but, after his season-ending knee surgery, the position is vacant. Holgorsen mentioned Daikiel Shorts and Jordan Thompson as options. Both played the position at times last season. Holgorsen also is considering putting a few running backs such as Smallwood and Andrew Buie at inside receiver.

Big changes in Trickett

After naming Clint Trickett the starting quarterback, there has been a difference of "night and day" between his performance last year and now.

"His sense of urgency [is better], he's reading signals, communicating," Holgorsen said. "It's just nice to be able to not have to coach a guy on every single play. He's in a good place."

But he is not involved with social media. After a debacle on Twitter, in which Trickett made sexist jokes toward women, he is no longer on social media. Holgorsen and his staff have been preaching the importance of staying clean on social-media sites to all players.

"We talk to them all the time about it," he said. "Obviously, he [Trickett] made a mistake, he released a statement, and I told him to get rid of all the social media. If you abuse it, then it's going to be gone."

Crest faces challenge

The Mountaineers landed highly touted quarterback William Crest this offseason. But, according to Holgorsen, he has a long way to go.

"His head's spinning," he said.

"We have to force-feed him reps. He just looks different than anyone out there. He's going to make a ton of mistakes, and it's our job to keep him going."

Crest stands 6 feet 2 and displays excellent quickness. His height is something the Mountaineers haven't had at quarterback in a long time.

West Virginia spent three years recruiting him, and Holgorsen is willing to take the time to groom Crest in hopes that it results in a potential starting quarterback.

Ryan Petrovich: rpetrovich@post-gazette.com or Twitter: @RyanPetrovich.

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