Austin, Bailey locked in on WVU offense

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va -- It's no surprise that veteran wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have locked down their roles in Dana Holgorsen's offense at West Virginia.

The rest of the receiving corps, however, will compete down to the wire as the team prepares for its Sept. 4 opener against Marshall.

"Stedman and Tavon have solidified the fact that they are pretty good and we will play them as much as possible," Holgorsen said to reporters last week. "We're developing our eight, but I want those second-team guys to beat out the first-team guys."

There are four receiver positions in Holgorsen's offense and four backups.

Austin, a 5-foot-9, 176 pound junior, and Bailey, a 5-10, 190 pound redshirt sophomore, combined for 12 touchdowns last year.

Austin, moved to an inside receiver position this season, averaged 60.5 receiving yards a game on 58 total receptions and eight touchdowns.

Bailey averaged 19.8 yards a game on 24 receptions and four touchdowns. He will be an outside receiver.

At slot receiver, senior Tyler Urban (6-5, 251) and redshirt senior Devon Brown (5-10, 188) make up the two-deep and will split time evenly, Holgorsen said.

"We've been getting depth through this fall camp, gained some depth at every position," Urban said. "So hopefully we'll be fresh when we're out there."

At the other outside receiver position, Ryan Nehlen and Ivan McCartney are competing.

Nehlen, the grandson of WVU Hall of Fame Coach Don Nehlen, is a redshirt junior who grew up in Morgantown.

McCartney is a 6-3, 178 pound sophomore out of Mirimar, Fla.

"Right about the time you think Ivan has the edge, then Ryan comes back and has his best day since he has been here," Holgorsen said.

Nehlen said he's seen the depth at the position all through camp.

"We've got about two or three receivers at each position that can get in there and make plays and it looks good so far," Nehlen said. "We have Tavon, the speedy inside guy, Tyler Urban the big receiver. There's a lot of different types of talent on this offense."

Players like Urban, a former tight end, will have different blocking roles in the new offense.

"It's completely different," Urban said.

"There are a couple of occasions where I will line up at tight end, but I'm much more involved in the passing game and most of my blocking is done on the perimeter.

"It's not blocking down on defensive ends and whatnot, it's blocking safeties and linebackers."

NOTES -- Holgorsen said he's seen improvement from the first team offensive line, noting that left tackle Don Barclay, a Seneca Valley product, has been "really consistent. ... He is a senior and we are glad we have him. ... Holgorsen said he has four players who can be kick returners and two who can return punts. "We have enough bodies. The bigger thing is finding front line bodies that we can trust to go in the right direction and get blocks. You can't just put it in the return guy's hands and tell him to work his magic."

Jenn Menendez: or 412-263-1959.


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