The West Virginia football team will be without four players as the team gears up for the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.
On Tuesday, it was announced that cornerback Daryl Worley, receiver Jovon Durante, defensive end Eric Kinsey and safety Kevin Williams are academically ineligible.
Oct 29, 2015; Fort Worth, TX, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Jovon Durante (5) returns a kickoff during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The news hurts most because of Worley. The starter in the secondary has been one of the Mountaineers’ most reliable players on defense this season. He overcame a shoulder injury in preseason camp to finish with a Big 12-leading six interceptions, along with 12 pass breakups and 18 passes defended.
Worley, a junior, has a good head on his shoulders and is seen as a leader on the team. The news is certainly surprising, and reminiscent of the 2010 season when it was announced that starting offensive lineman Joe Madsen was ruled ineligible for the Champs Sports Bowl.
In this case, however, Worley’s issue is unique.
"“Daryl’s eligible, but because his classwork was late getting in, he failed to meet the NCAA bowl certification timeline,” Holgorsen said. “They have up until a specific date to get things certified. Unfortunately for us, that wasn’t the case.“Daryl’s a good kid. He’s a good student. He did a little bit too little too late for him. So, it’s not an eligibility issue with him. It was a timing issue. Unfortunately for us, we’re not going to be able to have him in the game.”"
The loss of Durante means a loss of big play potential for WVU quarterback Skyler Howard. Durante, a freshman, recorded the first touchdown for the Mountaineers this season, which was a 41-yard reception from Howard in the first quarter of WVU’s 44-0 win over Georgia Southern on Sept. 5.
He was fourth on the team with 24 catches for 378 yards. Durante also finished with five touchdowns. Luckily, the Mountaineers are well-stocked at receiver and have already had to utilize their depth at the position throughout the season.
Shelton Gibson leads the team in touchdown catches, while Daikiel Shorts and Jordan Thompson are also starting wide outs. The Mountaineers have even used Ka’Raun White, David Sills, Devonte Mathis and Gary Jennings in big receiver roles.
Plus, running backs Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell have caught passes in the flat. So, West Virginia will be fine without Durante.
While Durante and Worley, pending his paperwork filed for professional status, will be back next season, Kinsey has played his last game as a Mountaineer. The ineligible senior finishes his college career with 42 tackles. He was mostly used as a backup this season, but would have filled in admirably in the bowl game if Kyle Rose or Noble Nwachukwu were injured.
As for Williams, he was redshirting this season. His low is a non-issue. But the highly-regarded defensive player is just a true freshman. He’ll need to take advantage of these next four years to get his academic and athletic career back on track.