2. Who’s on the defensive line?
This is nothing new for the Mountaineers, who turned over 8 starters on defense last season, and still ended up 2nd in the Big 12 in scoring defense and 3rd in total defense. As a result, defensive coordinator Tony Gibson got a well-deserved extension and raise.
His latest project is to rebuild a defensive line that loses all 3 starters in Noble Nwachukwu, Derrien Howard and Christian Brown.
New faces that are expected to make an immediate impact include defensive tackle Jalen Harvey, a JUCO recruit from Northwest Mississippi CC, who helped his team win its first JUCO national title since 1992 two seasons ago. Last season, the 3-star recruit finished with 27 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss.
Two other Mississippi JUCO players were brought in at defensive end. One is Harvey’s teammate, Quondarius Qualls, who Scout.com had listed as a 4-star recruit. Qualls had 9.5 sacks last season, but may seen more of a role at linebacker, as that’s how he’s currently listed on the WVU team website. Ezekiel Rose comes from East Mississippi C.C. and finished last season with 35 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
Meantime, returnees Jon Lewis should see an increased role after playing in 13 games last season and Adam Shuler adds more depth at defensive end after being named second-team All-Big 12 freshman last season by Athlon Sports. There will be several new names to watch on the defensive line in the West Virginia spring game.