Who Will Be West Virginia's Next Great Wide Receiver?

By Jamie Plunkett
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The West Virginia Mountaineers have been stacked at the wide receiver position for the past few seasons with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey giving opposing secondaries fits.

With Austin, Bailey, and quarterback Geno Smith, the Mountaineers’ offense was something to be feared. In 2012, the Mountaineers were third in the offensive-minded Big 12 Conference in points per game, scoring almost 42 points per contest. A large part of that offense revolved around Austin and Bailey, who combined for 2,911 yards receiving and 37 receiving touchdowns.

Tavon Austin also saw plenty of time in the backfield, where he rushed for 643 yards and three touchdowns on the season, including a remarkable 344 rushing yards (572 all-purpose yards) in a 50-49 heartbreaking loss to the Oklahoma Sooners.

However, Austin and Bailey are gone (as is Smith) and the Mountaineers must look to unproven talent to catch the ball in 2013.

Currently, the leading receiver is actually running back Andrew Buie, which is never a good sign if you’re a fan. As far as actual receivers go, sophomore Jordan Thompson is the most experienced guy coming back, and he totaled 85 whole receiving yards last season. Along with him the Mountaineers will be looking for production from junior Connor Arlia and sophomore Dante Campbell. Together, Arlia and Campbell only totaled 57 receiving yards, although Campbell did have a receiving touchdown against James Madison early in the season.

Juco transfer Kevin White, from Lackawana C.C. in Scranton, Pennsylvania could also be a contributor this season, along with newly committed recruits Shelton Gibson and Mario Alford may see some playing time as well depending on how well they hit the ground running once they make it to campus.

It will be interesting to see who breaks out in the spring and over the summer as things progress and a new quarterback is named. This is certainly something to keep an eye on, as it will likely have a major impact on how the Mountaineers will fare in 2013.

You can follow Jamie on Twitter at @thedsportsrant

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