Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WVU FOOTBALL ; Coaches, Teammates Raving about WR Durante

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WVU FOOTBALL ; Coaches, Teammates Raving about WR Durante

Article excerpt

MORGANTOWN - During West Virginia's first 13 preseason football practices, many opinions were formed about Jovon Durante. It was harder to decide what to trust. The freshman receiver missed the first three days of practice waiting for the NCAA's Eligibility Center to approve his return to the team he'd been with since June. The first day he was allowed to participate was the second of four practices the media was invited to watch during a 30-minute window. Durante did nothing more than field punts and return kickoffs.

The speed with which he turned over his feet and unrolled quick strides to propel him through the coverage teams did open eyes, but he was in a helmet, shorts and a green jersey that told teammates to go easy on him. Everyone else wore a helmet and shoulder pads. Of course, Durante looked faster and smoother.

Four days later, he was outfitted like everyone else, but WVU didn't let the offense and defense square off in front of the media. Three days after that, the offense did line up against the defense, but two different newcomers - freshman Gary Jennings and junior college transfer Ka'Raun White - were the first-team receivers.

That same day, coach Dana Holgorsen offered a clear endorsement of Durante when he said he and Jennings "ain't redshirting, which only backed up his previous statement that those two and White, who redshirted two years ago at Lackawanna College and has three years left to play three seasons, are among a small number of first-year players needed on offense in 2015.

Whether Durante starts or serves as a backup remains any outsider's guess, and the answer is protected within the secrecy college coaches cling to at this stage of the season. But given the limited visibility throughout camp and Holgorsen's rule that makes freshmen off limits to the media, the best way properly gauge the impact the Floridian from Miramar High might make during his first season is to trust what his coaches and teammates say.

It is only there where things get especially curious. Durante's promise is so obvious and yet so tenuous that the people who are willing to describe it choose their words with caution.

"Has Dana talked about him yet? said cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell, who was then assured his boss had indeed discussed Durante. "Special. That's all I'm going to say.

Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson was careful, too, and though he oversees a defense that Holgorsen said could be the best he's ever had, Gibson admitted Durante has left his mark so far.

"As good as I've seen as a freshman since I've been around here, he said. "He's scary good.

Durante is 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds and he was a basketball star in South Florida before he was a football star. When he was a football star, he was also a letterwinner in track. …

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