Assistant coach Lonnie Galloway wasn't willing to accept the status quo, however. He began looking at other players on the team that might be able to contribute at the position, and he didn’t have to look long before settling on senior defensive back Eddie Davis as a candidate for a move.
Davis, who is no stranger to switching positions, was brought to West Virginia as a running back before switching to wide receiver, then defensive back and now back to wide receiver. Although all of the moving has presented challenges for Davis, the 6’0” 185-pound senior is pleased to be back on the offensive side of the ball.
“The move was pretty much just made to help the team,” said Davis. “I felt like it was the best move for me as far as position wise and seeing where the numbers were with receivers. They need a lot of help so I thought I would get back over there and help. Of course, I wanted to get back on offense but I didn’t tell a lot of people that.”
Galloway has confidence that Davis will be able to contribute as a receiver.
“Eddie wanted to come over and we talked it over with Coach [Lockwood],” said Galloway. “For right now, Eddie is a receiver. He can run fast. Eddie is a very smart kid. He’s picking up the offense fairly well. Once we get out there on the field, things speed up a little bit so he will mess up every now and then but he will be fine.”
This spring will allow Davis to not only compete for a spot at receiver but it will give him time to relearn the Mountaineer offense after being on the defensive side of the ball for the past two years. Davis admits that the transition has been physically demanding.
“I’m picking up the offense,” said Davis. “I think I have a good grasp of it right now. What I have to do is get the little stuff down so I can offer more with my athletic ability. I have to get a receiver body first though. It’s a lot of stopping and going. It puts a lot of pressure on your knees. [This spring] is very important. I have to take everything they offer me and put it together and make something out of it. I have to make this happen.”
Switching positions isn't done with a snap of the fingers, and its not as easy as plugging players into your fantasy team lineup. Davis' brief mention of “getting the little stuff down” covers a lot of ground. Learning the techniques of stance, route running and getting off the line of scrimmage, just to name a few, are a matter of endless drilling and repetitions. And despite the limited numbers of wide receivers in practice, there is still only so much time that can be devoted during formal practice sessions to that work.
There's also the matter of quarterback familiarity. Once all of the techniques are mastered, betting in sync with the passer presents another lofty challenge. Learning how the ball is delivered from the quarterback, getting timing down in and out of breaks and learning where to look for the ball are just some of the tasks involved in getting on the same page. With starting quarterback Geno Smith on the sidelines for any action involving defenders, Davis has to make the most of practice throws during drills and skeleton sessions to hone that timing.
It's not all negative, however. While many of the other receivers have at least one year under their belt at the position, Davis does bring in a unique advantage in that he has played on the opposite side of the ball from the receivers for the past two years. Therefore, after Davis has mastered the offensive side of receiving, he will likely have an advantage in knowing how a cornerback thinks.
“I can have the advantage as soon as I get the offensive plays down smoothly,” said Davis. “Then I will be able to look at what’s going on on the defense but right now I can’t look at it from the defensive side because I have to look at the coaches giving the signals.”
Although Davis is currently listed as a receiver, he hasn’t ruled out the option of another position move before football season begins this fall.
“My mind wanders,” admitted Davis. “My mind wanders and I think about what I could be doing on the other side of the ball to help out. I just like to be on the field so I would do anything. I see myself as doing anything.”