Ishmael Banks’ loss may become Terrell Chestnut’s gain.
Banks, a senior cornerback, has been penciled in since the spring as the likely starter at the corner opposite sophomore sensation Daryl Worley, but Banks hasn’t been seen on the practice field in recent days, and it’s been reported that he’s been sidelined with an academic issue.
That’s led to more and more time with the first group for Chestnut, who once considered giving up the game after tearing his ACL in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl and dealing with a difficult recovery.
“I’m finally feeling healthy,” said Chestnut, who has also dealt with shoulder problems during his college career. “I’m ready, and I’m excited. Being away from the game for so long is hard, especially when you’re grinding in the offseason.
“Being able to play the game is great. It’s the reason I’m here, besides going to school, so it’s go time now.”
Chestnut said the injury woes have made him more mentally tough, and now he doesn’t mind the competition, first with Banks and now with Travis Bell, for playing time.
“You have to make the reps count,” he said of his approach to winning the job. “You can’t just count the reps. They drive me every day to play my best. We just want to be out there and complement Daryl Worley, because he’s such a great and special player.
“There are a lot of great players here and a lot of people who can make plays. You see it every day at practice. Every day, somebody different stands up. That’s big for the team.”
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Now seven months into his new job as a college football coach, WVU defensive line coach Damon Cogdell is still adjusting to life at the new level, after an ultra-successful career as the head coach at Miramar High School in Florida, where he coached the likes of Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey.
“It’s been fine,” said the former Mountaineer linebacker, who’s still adjusting to being away from his family, which stayed in the Sunshine State. “It’s been different, but it’s everything I thought it was going to be. (It’s a) great learning tool. I’ve been learning a lot of X’s and O’s and just different types of kids. So it’s been fun.”
Cogdell said the game is the same at the high school and college level. Only the terminology is different. But the speed of the college game isn’t only different from high school, it’s different than when Cogdell wore the Mountaineer uniform under Don Nehlen’s guidance in 1997 and 1998.
“The offenses move the ball much faster now, but other than that I think that camp was much harder and longer back when I played,” he said. “Now (the lighter practice schedule) gives the guys time to recover.”
• • •
WVU wide receiver Jordan Thompson was announced Wednesday as one of 43 players on the Earl Campbell Award watch list. The award recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity — specifically tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury.
The nominee must have been born in Texas, graduated from a Texas high school or played at a Texas-based junior college or four-year college.
Thompson, a native of Katy, Texas, had 23 catches for 263 yards in his first two seasons as a Mountaineer. He’s been praised by head coach Dana Holgorsen for having a good camp and is also expected to be a contributor on punt returns.
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