The Dominion Post  

D-line depth an issue this spring for WVU

Created on:   Wed, Feb 28, 2018   11:51 PM

Last modified:   Thu, Mar 1, 2018   11:08 AM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — With the start of spring camp for the WVU football team March 6, there is hope and optimism that can be picked out across the Mountaineers’ offense and defense, but head coach Dana Holgorsen does think there is a “weakness” along the defensive front.

Last week, defensive end Adam Shuler II announced he was leaving the program to pursue a future in track and field. Then, Holgorsen announced Wednesday that two nose tackles will not participate in spring drills.

Jaleel Fields, who would have entered his redshirt-senior season, graduated and is moving on. Lamonte McDougle, who was an all-Big 12 freshman last season, had shoulder surgery and will not be available.

Jalen Harvey announced his transfer in January, and Xavier Pegues finished his senior campaign in 2017. With those losses, the Mountaineers will have to piece together a unit to compete this spring.

“We’re thin, and we’re not in the best position there,” Holgorsen said. “We’re looking for freshmen to come in and play (this summer), and we’re also still beating down the bushes for some transfer guys that might be able to come in and play.”

At the top of the depth chart for nose tackle is Fairmont Senior alum Darius Stills. His redshirt was burned halfway through last season, and he appeared in eight games. He played defensive end as a true freshman, but Stills’ size allows him to move inside.

Brenon Thrift, a transfer from Penn State, will also get reps during the spring.

At defensive end, Holgorsen said Ezekiel Rose stepped up to become a leader in his second season with the team.

“We feel good about Zeke Rose,” Holgorsen said. “He had a great year and just kept getting better and better.”

Opposite of Rose will be junior Reese Donahue, followed by Morgantown High alum Stone Wolfley and Jeffery Pooler.

Wolfley and Pooler “are younger guys who need to start contributing a little more than they have,” Holgorsen said.


Along with McDougle, linebacker David Long will miss spring because of a shoulder injury. Holgorsen said both should be good to go by fall camp. Redshirt-freshman safety Exree Loe has a pectoral injury and will be out a few months.

Quarterback Will Grier is cleared for full participation following hand surgery, in November.


Along with Fields, Holgorsen said quarterback Chris Chugunov and receiver Ricky Rogers are moving on and left the program.

Chugunov replaced Grier following Grier’s hand injury Nov. 18, against Texas. Chugunov started the last two games of the season, against Oklahoma and Utah. He finished with 551 yards and three touchdowns.


Holgorsen said a few players switched positions and others could follow as camp moves forward.

Sophomore Derrek Pitts moved from safety to cornerback, a position he played primarily at South Charleston High. Dravon Askew-Henry, who bounced around different safety positions last year, is settling in at “spur” to replace the departed Kyzir White.

Dylan Tonkery started for the injured David Long at “Will” linebacker last year, then moved to “Sam” to end the year. Now, he will play “Mike” to replace Al-Rasheed Benton.

Sophomore Logan Thimons moved from linebacker to fullback.