MORGANTOWN - For all that Lonnie Galloway went through last fall trying to find true wide receivers and keep them on the field, well, it might seem like a picnic compared to this spring.
"We only played with three last year,'' the West Virginia wide receivers coach said Wednesday. "If we have to do the same thing this year, that's what we have to do.''
The trouble is, right now Galloway and the Mountaineers might not have even three. Or even one.
With the departure of seniors Alric Arnett and Wes Lyons, the only returning outside receiver is Bradley Starks, and he's been limited during the first two days of spring practice by a twisted ankle suffered playing basketball.
As for the other Mountaineers who were recruited as scholarship-level wide receivers?
Well, there are none. In fact, Starks can't even be counted in that group, having arrived three years ago as a quarterback.
A couple of others who might have helped this spring aren't even with the team. Logan Heastie and Deon Long, for whatever reasons, didn't do enough during winter workouts and are no longer on the roster.
"We've got a couple good ones coming in. Hopefully they can come in and play [right away],'' Galloway said of freshmen who won't even arrive until May or June. "If not, we've got to play with the ones we've got. We played with three last year and you didn't see anyone else - Arnett, Bradley and Wes.''
There will be at least three (rotating at two positions) again this year, although it's impossible to tell where they'll come from. But at least one of the possibilities excites Galloway.
Tavon Austin, who was at times spectacular as a true freshman in limited playing time last fall, is now concentrating most of his time on playing wide receiver. Although he is seen as the eventual successor to Noel Devine at tailback and a more natural slot receiver at just 5-foot-9, Austin will almost certainly be in the wideout rotation when the season begins.
"We've just got to try to find a way to get him the ball, and putting him at running back behind Noel is not the best thing to do because hopefully Noel stays in the game the whole time,'' Galloway said. "Tavon's going to be a great player for us and someone that's going to be able to create a lot of mismatches when we get him the ball. He's very, very explosive.''