Clay, Arlia and Tonkery could start for WVU

Bridgeport High is where linebacker Wes Tonkery played before coming to West Virginia University. Madonna High in Weirton is the private school that sent wide receiver Connor Arlia to the Mountaineers. And George Washington High in Charleston was the football program that helped groom fullback Cody Clay for his role as a possible starter for the 2013 West Virginia team.

[cleeng_content id="238230709" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]As third-year coach Dana Holgorsen readies for this week’s opening of the fall training camp, the three mostly inexperienced players from the state of West Virginia have been considered for prominent roles this season.

After spring practice was completed in April, the three in-state players were placed atop the coach’s depth charts.

Both Arlia and Tonkery are juniors and Clay is a sophomore. Only Clay had much playing time on last year’s 7-6 record team or the wet loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Tonkery is majoring in industrial engineering and has been a consistent honor roll student. After going through the usual redshirt season in 2010, he played sparingly the next season when the Mountaineers slammed Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

As a sophomore in 2012 he was credited with 10 tackles and intercepted his first pass against Maryland. He started one time.

Listed at 6-foot-2, 214, Tonkery doesn’t have all the tools to be a dominant player but will be given his playing time because of mistake-free minutes and intelligence.

After twice being selected to all-state teams while playing for Coach Bob Kramer at Weirton Madonna, Arlia was asked to be a walk-on, non-scholarship player for the Mountaineers. He accepted that invitation from the coaching staff.

As a freshman in 2011, Arlia played a few downs on special teams. Last season, he had some starts in the nine games where he received on-field time.

His catches numbered seven and his most impressive game came in a must-win against Iowa State where he had three receptions for 25 yards.

Listed at 5-foot-9, 181, Arlia is said by the West Virginia sports information department to run a 4.6 40-yard dash.

After April’s spring game, Arlia was named an Iron Mountaineer for his efforts in the weight room.

Clay is a 2010 graduate of George Washington High in Charleston where he played as a three-year starter on Patriot teams that had a combined record of 32-6 and went to one Class AAA state championship game.

His first year in Morgantown found Clay being redshirted and then in 2012 he was able to start six games and play in all 13, including the unfortunate circumstances in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Used almost exclusively as a blocker, the 6-foot-3, 252-pound Clay only had two pass receptions for the season.

When WVU had head coaches Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart, there were very few starters who had played for high schools in West Virginia.

Holgorsen’s 2013 edition is full of question marks and unsettled offensive and defensive positions where players could quickly rise or fall overnight on the coach’s depth chart.

At least Arlia, Clay and Tonkery are going to get long looks after what they did in the spring drills and intrasquad game that ended that work.


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