Old and new
by Jim Buzzerd
This time next week it will be game week for the West Virginia University Football Team. Sometime late this week or early next week we should have access to a depth chart. It will be interesting to see where some of the newcomers fit in.
Early speculation has several true freshmen and half a dozen or so transfers in the mix for playing time. I’m keeping an eye on two players in particular. One is 6-7, 300 defensive lineman Darel Middleton, a graduate transfer from Tennessee. He’s made an impact on an already pretty talented defensive line that includes pre-season All America selection Dante Stills.
The other player is 6-6, 291 true freshman offensive tackle Wyatt Milum from Spring Valley High School in Huntington. Word is Milum has earned playing time and is vying for a starting job. If that happens Milum will be the second in state offensive lineman to start for WVU as a true freshman. Last year Fairmont’s Zach Frazier not only became a starter, but he also excelled. He made a pair of True Freshman All American teams and led the team with 26 knockdown blocks.
If Milum reaches anywhere near the production of Frazier, WVU will be in fine shape on the line. Perhaps the top recruit in this freshman class, Milum comes in with quite a list of accolades including being named All American by Sports Illustrated and was rated the top right tackle in the country by that publication.
Head coach Neal Brown has made recruiting the top in state players a priority and it’s showing with these two young linemen being in a Mountaineer uniform. And speaking of in state talent, when Brown arrived in late 2018 or early 2019, he was late to the recruiting party. There were two highly regarded linemen who were committed to Tennessee and Virginia Tech respectively.
The previous staff was unable to make inroads with these players, but Brown made a strong last ditch effort. He was unable to sway either player, but the effort did not go in vain. Doug Nester, a 6-7, 321 transfer from VPI is in a WVU uniform and is likely to become a starter. Nester was an Ohio State commit at one time and switched to Tech where he started 17 games in two seasons.
So, that’s four players mentioned and there is common thread among them. These guys are huge and every report I see from those who get to attend practices mention that both lines are among the biggest in recent memory. Of course, it takes more than size to be a good lineman, but size helps a lot.
Other transfers expected to play early are linebackers Lance Dixon and Deshawn Stevens, cornerback Charles Woods and safety Caleb Coleman. True freshman receiver Kaden Prather has had a good fall camp and is expected to be in the receiver rotation. Running back Justin Johnson is expected to be in line for carries this fall.