West Virginia enters the 2017 football season with 17 defensive linemen on the roster. But
they are all either fresh faces or players with little experience as starters from 2016. Gone
are seniors Noble Nwachukwu, Christian Brown, and Darien Howard. From those three, the
Mountaineers are losing 181 games played combined.
Despite the mass exodus of quality starts from a year ago, the 2017 defensive line is more than capable of making a significant impact in the trenches.
Incoming players at the defensive line go two different directions. They either come in and
flourish or they struggle and redshirt. In 2016, freshman Reese Donahue was the former. The West Virginia native played in 12 games and registered 12 tackles. 2017 offers the promise of a handful of incoming players who could come in and make an impact right away.
1. Lamonte McDougle- Lamonte gave the Mountaineers plenty to be excited about when he
committed. With a 6-foot, 303-pound frame, he has the necessary
athleticism at the position. Look for McDougle to provide depth at the position.
2. Jalen Harvey- Coming from Northwest Mississippi Community College, Harvey gives
the Mountaineers another big body to clog running lanes. While at NMCC, Harvey
tallied 67 tackles, 8 sacks, and three blocked kicks. In addition, he also won a national
championship in 2015 as a freshman. Harvey adds experience and a winning pedigree.
3. Ezekiel Rose- Finally, Rose has the intangibles of a player that will thrive on the
defensive line. Like Harvey, he adds experience as a former JUCO player at East Mississippi Community College. He also
adds that sought after winning pedigree. Although he only weighs 266 pounds, he should be able to gain weight and make a difference.
4. Darius Stills – Stills is the poster child of a legacy recruit. His father, Gary Stills, registered 159 tackles and 26 sacks as a Mountaineer. Darius has the pedigree to become another defensive stalwart for West Virginia. As a senior at Fairmont HS (WV), Stills tallied 85 tackles and 9 sacks.
Other Notables- Jeffery Pooler Jr, Brennan Thrift
The players returning to the defensive line include Reese Donahue, Jon Lewis, Jaleel Lewis,
Xavier Pegues, and Adam Shuler II. There is extremely limited playing time as a starter between this bunch and it will be a trial by fire process to get them ready for the rigors of Big XII play.
1. Adam Shuler- As a freshman, Shuler played in all 13 games for West Virginia. He would go on to tally 34 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. Shuler had an impressive freshman campaign and figures to be one of the best linemen the Mountaineers have at its disposal.
2. Jon Lewis- Lewis adds plenty of experience to the Mountaineers. He was used on 135
play on defense last season. He tallied four tackles for the season. Look for Lewis to
increase those numbers this season.
3. Jaleel Fields- After spending last season sidelined due to a knee injury, Fields is finally healthy and able to participate. His three years of experience in the program will be relied on heavily as a redshirt junior.
4. Reese Donahue- Perhaps the most exciting returning player, Donahue adds experience
and grit to the Mountaineers. Look for him to increase his numbers in 2017.