MORGANTOWN — The sticky situation in which West Virginia senior cornerback Icky Banks found himself caught up in has been resolved, and Banks has been reinstated to the Mountaineer team but has been banned by the NCAA from playing in the season’s first three games.
A starter at cornerback in all 12 games last year, the 6-foot, 180-pound Banks had been looking at a potential season-long NCAA suspension due to academic problems, so the resolution can be deemed a positive for WVU.
“Icky has been reinstated to the team. He was dealing with academic issues that had to get sent to the NCAA. The NCAA came back with the ruling that he has been suspended for the non-conference schedule. So, he will not be able to play for the first three games but he will be able to practice. He will be back for the Oklahoma game and the Big 12 schedule after that.
“We’re glad he got it resolved and thank the NCAA for their ruling on that.”
The ruling, of course, means that Banks will miss Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. opener against No. 2 Alabama in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. However, Holgorsen did not seem terribly put back by that or by Banks also missing the Towson and Maryland games which follow.
With Banks out for the past week awaiting the NCAA ruling, junior Terrell Chestnut and senior Travis Bell have been sharing duties at the cornerback slot across from Daryl Worley. Holgorsen would not name a starter there, saying they both “are going to take snaps.”
More important, he indicated that there is another presence in the mix there, a very interesting one in junior college transfer Jaylon Myers out of Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. Myers was a junior college All-American as he led the NJCAA with eight interceptions along with six breakups, indicating he might be the shutdown corner they are looking for on that side.
Myers’ only problem is that he was not cleared to enroll and play until one week ago, and is still trying to get himself into game shape while learning the defense.
“We’ve got bodies at corner, — bodies that have played,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve just got to see how they respond.”
A second secondary position that remains without a posted starter at the moment is free safety, where sophomore Jeremy Tyler out of Lithonia, Ga., who started one game and played in eight last season, has been engaged in a competition with freshman Dravon Henry, an all-state defensive back out of Aliquippa, Pa.
“They both had good camps and both are playing well. I don’t know which one will get the nod to start,” Holgorsen said. “I’ve said this many, many times now, just because someone gets the nod to start isn’t as important as how they play throughout the game because the better they play, the more snaps they are going to get.”
Holgorsen apparently wants to keep Alabama coach Nick Saban guessing about who he plans to start at running back, which is his deepest position. It had been thought that Rushel Shell, the transfer from Pitt who gained more than 600 yards as a freshman after being one of the most highly sought after recruits in the nation, would get the starting job.
The Mountaineers, however, are knee deep in running backs with Dreamius Smith pushing Shell, while Wendell Smallwood is the most versatile and more a clone of last year’s leading rusher and receiver Charles Sims. Also there and pushing for carries are the leading rushers from the 2011 and 2012 Mountaineers, Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie.
“Who starts doesn’t matter,” Holgorsen maintained. “Whoever has the hot hand, whoever’s playing fast and playing well is the guy we will give the ball to a little bit more often.”
Turns out Saban can play that game, too, and threw a curve when he maintained he has not yet selected his quarterback for the opener.
Saban’s quarterback competition has been between last year’s backup Blake Sims and Florida State transfer Jacob Coker, a former teammate and close friend of WVU QB Clint Trickett.
Coker, thought to be the favorite to win the job, found himself in the same situation as Trickett at WVU last year, coming in late and having to learn not only a new system, but develop chemistry with coaches and teammates.
“We’re repping both guys and obviously someone has to start the game,” Saban said. “I’ll make that decision at some point in time this week. Both have done a good job and we are going to prepare both guys.
“You’ve got a starting pitcher, doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to go nine innings,” Saban said. “Does (New York Yankees manager Joe) Girardi tell (pitcher Masahiro) Tanaka he’s going to pitch nine innings when he goes out there?”
Saban explained what he’s looking at with the two.
“Blake is more familiar with the system, having been here longer. He’s more comfortable with the things we do. Has played well and the team has had a good rhythm,” he said.
On the other hand …
“Jacob is the newer guy of the two who doesn’t have as much knowledge and experience,” Saban continued. “We’re trying to get him more knowledge so he can play comfortably. To think a guy can play with confidence when he doesn’t have knowledge is … stupid.
“A guy has to develop knowledge and understanding of what supposed to do before he can have confidence doing it.”
While Coker hasn’t worked in the Alabama system, he threw almost as many passes last year as Sims threw in three years of backing up at Alabama.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel