WVU’s Rose gets some help on the defensive line

MORGANTOWN — Jabril Robinson, the new guy on the WVU defensive line, has something that the rest of his Mountaineers teammates do not — a national championship ring.

The ring — gold, trimmed with orange and with a College Football Playoff championship trophy behind a diamond Clemson Tiger paw — was earned when Robinson was a part of Clemson’s 2016 national title team.

While he didn’t record a tackle in the game, Robinson added to a Tigers defensive line that was one of the deepest in college football. That’s the reason he is now with the Mountaineers as a graduate transfer — a chance to finally play as a senior.

Don’t think for a second that Robinson’s fellow linemen haven’t taken notice that he wasin the CFP three times in four years — winning the whole thing in 2016.

“That just makes us want to get another one,” Ezekiel Rose said. “He brings energy because we know that he has a national championship ring and he knows what it takes to get there. He knows what energy to bring, what time to do what, and he’s a very vocal guy.

“He loves to talk, but I can sit there and listen to him. He brings positive messages every time he talks.”

Robinson’s addition to the roster was crucial because of depth concerns the defensive line faced throughout the offseason. End Adam Shuler II transferred to Florida and tackle Lamonte McDougle headed west to Washington State.

That left three scholarship linemen this spring — Rose, Reese Donahue and Darius Stills. You could pencil in those three as the starters because there wasn’t much of a choice.

But in April, Kenny Bigelow Jr. announced he was heading from USC to WVU as a grad transfer. A big body who can plug the middle, Bigelow has suffered through knee injuries his entire career, but if healthy, can help on the interior of WVU’s line.

“Kenny is a real good guy,” Rose said. “He doesn’t say much, but when he does, he speaks louder than anyone. He’s a very good kid and can be explosive for such a big guy.”

Rose compared Bigelow — 6-foot-3, 300 pounds — to former WVU nose tackle Darrien Howard. As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Bigelow suffered a season-ending knee injury, and in 2016, suffered the same fate during spring practice.

He played in six games last season with the Trojans.

According to Rose, Bigelow shows no signs of those injuries being an immediate concern.

“He’s been working on it really well, you can’t even tell he’s been injured at all,” Rose said. “He’s been working hard since he’s been here and he’s fitting in well.”

As for Rose himself, he’s in a different place than he was last year. Coming from East Mississippi Community College, he was supposed to add to the depth at defensive end, but he became a fixture in the starting lineup toward the end of the season and finished with 23 tackles, a team-leading 4 1/2 sacks, two pass breakups, one interception and a forced fumble.

Once he realized he puts his “pants on one leg at a time like everyone else,” Rose knew he could play at a Power 5 school. Now, it’s just a matter of honing his craft.

“I just want to bring more energy to the team — in the meetings, to competitions, to everything we do,” he said. “I’m going to reach into my toolbox and pull out the tools that I have to make myself better. That’s what we all need to do if we want to make this work.”

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