WVU Gameday Blog

WVU eyes on the defensive line

Kentucky defensive lineman Tyrese Allen committed to West Virginia’s 2018 recruiting class Tuesday. He’s the second player to pledge to the class. The other is also a defensive lineman, and the Mountaineers, of course, have circled Fairmont’s Dante Stills as another player they’d like to have. His brother is a 2017 signee, and their father is all-timer Gary Stills.

This is quite obviously a focus for WVU, and Allen’s addition helps.

Allen stands at 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, but has the athleticism to play on the edge of the defensive line, too. The coaches see him as a three-technique, similarly to how they used Christian Brown in the last couple of seasons. However, he could line up at any of the spots along the defensive front. Regardless of where he ends up, 247Sports Director of Recruiting Steve Wiltfong feels the Mountaineers got a good one.

“His relentlessness and his power make him a guy that will be a productive player at the point of attack,” said Wiltfong. “He’s a good player against the run and he’s got some athleticism to him. He’s an old-school, back alley, tough and physical kid. He’s a high-motor football player.”

WVU will continue recruiting the position, and not exclusively for 2018.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen — as well as defensive coordinator Tony Gibson and defensive line coach Bruce Tall — completed spring football with reserved but notable optimism about the defensive line. Sophomore defensive end Reese Donahue was a starter from start to finish. Senior Xavier Pegues is finally available, and let’s not underscore what it means to have him at nose guard. Sophomore Adam Shuler was dog housed for a brief amount of time, but seems to have settled in again at the other defensive end.

Junior college defensive end Ezekiel Rose helped himself. Senior Jon Lewis could start, and he can play inside and outside. Redshirt freshman Jeffrey Pooler, who took that trip with Shuler early in the spring, drew praise toward the end. Things are not familiar, but things are not dire.

“We had three seniors last year in Christian Brown, Noble Nwachukwu and Darrien Howard who played a lot of football for us, but they were taking like 90 percent of the reps, which is tough to do as a defensive lineman,” Holgorsen said. “What I see now is we went through the spring with nine scholarship guys, and we’re going to be adding two more and potentially a third one as well. That gives you 10, 11, 12 bodies to be able to create some competition, which I think is important.

“Those guys need to be able to go out there and practice hard and earn their snaps. It may be a deal now where those guys get 50 percent of the snaps as opposed to 80 or 90 percent, which then gives us fresh bodies, which we’re looking forward to.”

Ooooh! Did you catch that? The “… and potentially a third one as well,” in which Darius Stills and Lamonte McDougle are signed and on their way this summer? Well, now that junior college quarterback David Isreal is officially part of the team, the Mountaineers have, by my count, 82 players on scholarship. They have room for three more players.

The graduate transfer market is thin — now more than ever when the Oklahomas and Oklahoma States of the world are digging in — and there aren’t a wealth of able high school or traditional junior college players out there. Quite likely, we ought to keep an eye out on another “late out” player, like Isreal, and perhaps someone who can help in 2017.