Spring superlatives: West Virginia

With the first batch of Big East spring practices beginning next week, it's time to take a look at the strongest and the weakest position groups for each team. We're considering these position groups as they stand in the spring only.

This will go in reverse alphabetical order, so first up are the West Virginia Mountaineers:

Strongest position: Running back

  • The skinny: West Virginia brings back a load of starters overall and has plenty of experience on the offensive and defensive lines, at linebacker and in the secondary. But the running backs by far have the fewest question marks, thanks mostly to the somewhat unexpected return of Devine, a true superstar. Clarke made huge strides as a big, rumbling back last year and could be in line for more carries this season. And the Mountaineers can always put Jock Sanders or Tavon Austin in the backfield for the occasional hand-off and not miss a beat.

Weakest position: Quarterback

  • Key returnees: Sophomore Geno Smith (32-of-49 for 309 yards, one touchdown and one interception in 2009), sophomore Coley White

  • Key departure: Jarrett Brown (13 starts, 2,144 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns, nine interceptions and 466 rushing yards with six rushing scores in '09)

  • The skinny: At least for the spring, quarterback is a major concern for the Mountaineers. Smith is the presumed starter, but offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen expressed doubts last week about whether the youngster would be ready to participate in spring drills after his foot injury in January. White saw just a couple of snaps in one game last year and does not appear to be in the team's long-term plans at quarterback. Other than that, there's nothing, except for receiver Bradley Starks, who serves as the emergency signal-caller. The numbers will be boosted by the summer arrival of signees Barry Brunetti and Jeremy Johnson, but for the spring, this is a position of much doubt.