Football, WVU Sports

NOTEBOOK: Neal Brown says everyone is on same page moving forward after contract extension

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Following Saturday’s spring game, Neal Brown spoke in public for the first time since signing a two-year contract extension to remain West Virginia’s head coach through the 2026 season.

The revised contract, which was announced Thursday, pays Brown $23.95 million guaranteed over the course of the next six years.

“My family and I are excited about the recent contract extension,” Brown said. “One of the two big draws to West Virginia when you go back to Jan. 2019 for [wife] Brooke and I was the opportunity to impact an entire state through the game that we’re passionate about.

“After being here two-plus years, that’s been so true. We feel strongly connected to the people here.”

Brown also said the whole university and athletic program are on the same page.

“From the Board of Governors to Dr. Gee to Shane Lyons and Kelli Zinn all the way on down the athletic department, that stays true.

“I really believe our program is on an upward trajectory. I like this team that we have right now. The staff and the players. The players have bought in. We have a chemistry within our staff now that’s going to allow us to do what we want to do here, which is build a championship program that everyone can be proud of.”

Malashevich earns Nicklovich Award

Sophomore wide receiver Graeson Malashevich was named this year’s winner of the Tommy Nicklovich Award, which Blue & Gold News has annually presented to West Virginia’s top walk-on player since 1991.

Malashevich is a Ceredo native who played at Spring Valley.

“I love the kid. I love everything he’s about. He is one of the hardest working, most respected guys on the team,” Brown said. “He’s going to work himself into a role, no doubt about it. As a coach, you always want to see hard work recognized with these type of awards or with success on the field. I think it’s going to be both with Graeson.”

The award is named in the memory of Tommy Nicklovich, who played at WVU from 1979-82 before dying of cancer in 1983.

Iron Mountaineers announced

Malashevich was also one of this year’s Iron Mountaineers. The award is presented to the most outstanding performers in the spring strength and conditioning program.

The others are senior running back Leddie Brown, sophomore running back Tony Mathis Jr., sophomore offensive lineman Zach Frazier and senior safety Scottie Young.

Other award winners named

A multitude of Mountaineers were presented with awards for their performance in this year’s spring practices.

Juice Award (Energy): QB Garrett Greene, Bandit Eddie Watkins.

Love to Practice Award (Attitude): OL Zach Frazier, CB Nicktroy Fortune, LS J.P. Hadley.

Perfect Award: TE Mike O’Laughlin, DL Edward Vesterinen.

Outstanding Walk-On Award: OL Nick Malone, OL Tyler Connelly, LB Drew Joseph.

Most Improved First-Year Player Award: OL Jordan White, QB Garrett Greene, WR Reese Smith, DL Lanell Carr, CB Jackie Matthews, DL Taurus Simmons.

Most Improved Overall: RB Tony Mathis Jr., OL Parker Moorer, DL Akheem Mesidor, Bandit VanDarius Cowan.

Scout Special Teams Award: Naim Muhammad

Most Productive Player: WR Winston Wright Jr., WR Isaiah Esdale (Offense), DL Dante Stills (Defense), Malachi Ruffin (Special Teams).