West Virginia heads towards fall camp with one of the most dangerous scoring attacks in the Big 12. But not every position in the West Virginia offense is set. ESPN projected every top 25 team’s most important position battle on Wednesday, and listed center as West Virginia’s biggest.
Spring ball saw an inconclusive battle between returning starter Matt Jones and backup Jacob Buccigrossi. According to ESPN Big 12 reporter Jake Trotter, the center competition will be crucial to a West Virginia line that looks strong this season.
“With the rest of its potent offense basically set, West Virginia is still looking for a first-team center, as starting incumbent junior Matt Jones is battling to hold off sophomore Jacob Buccigrossi. Either way, the Mountaineers are banking that with three other starters returning up front, their offensive line will be much improved in 2018.”
West Virginia has been looking for a long-term solution at center since three-year starter Tyler Orlosky graduated in 2016. There promised to be a heated competition in 2017, but Buccigrossi suffered a torn ACL and Jah’Shaun Seider transferred, more or less handing the starting spot to Jones.
Jones performed capably as the starter in 2017, starting all 13 games. However, Buccigrossi’s return once again reignites the position battle. While the junior Jones has the experience advantage, Buccigrossi pushed him hard during the spring and could wrest the position away from him by fall.
Whoever wins the battle will have the benefit of experience around him. Starting tackles Yodny Cajuste and Colton McKivitz both return, along with guard Josh Sills, who started nine games in 2017. Senior guard Isaiah Hardy, a 6-foot-6, 335-pound behemoth who appeared in 12 games last year, is also expected to move into the starting lineup.