2019 Position Preview: Offensive Line
The offensive line represents the work ethic of the people of West Virginia, blue-collar. They usually don’t become household names and outside of their family, you don’t see a lot of their jersey’s being represented around stadiums.
There is no stat sheet for offensive linemen, unless you’re looking at sacks given up and usually the only time you hear their name or number, comes from a penalty or from a missed block. Rarely do you see an offensive lineman highlight. Although, everyone loves to see a big man pick up a fumble and rumble their way to the end zone and of course, a big guy celebration.
Highlights are usually reserved for the skill position players, but that wouldn’t be possible without the O-line. They not only pave the way for running backs and protect the quarterback, but set the tone for the offense.
It’s a selfless position and for most offensive linemen, they love to see their guys score touchdowns.
The 2019 edition of the Mountaineers has a stable of talented running backs that have produced 100-yard games and, as of right now, it appears they will lean on the running game this upcoming season.
If West Virginia is going to have any success, it’s going to start up front. There is a lot of talent, but there is a lot of inexperience. There is question of depth this season with inexperience. O-line coach Matt Moore believes this unit can get the job done. A big reason is because of how tight this group is, and his veterans Colton McKivitz and Josh Sills are a big reason why.
Moore said at the conclusion of spring practice that the unit got better. Nonetheless it goes back to depth and that’s what they’ll look for as fall camp opens and the second team will have the biggest movement during fall camp.
The football staff put together an off-season depth chart and that’s where we will start.
Left tackle Colton McKivitz (6-7, 312 lbs) r-sr
Coming into the season, left tackle Colton McKivitz headlines the hogmollies as a preseason All Big 12 selection. He leads the team in career starts (35).
He’s moving over to the left side after spending the last two years at right tackle. It’s not unfamiliar territory for the redshirt senior. His first action came in 2016 at the beginning of the opening game when, now New England Patriot, Yodny Cajuste went down with a knee injury.
Backup: Junior Uzebu (6-5, 305 lbs) r-fr
Junior made All-Region 7-6A honors for Alpharetta High.
Left guard Michael Brown (6-3, 345) r-jr
Michael Brown has one of the most fascinating stories in all of college football. He didn’t play football in high school and began his career at Eastern Arizona Community College. During his sophomore year, Brown earned all first-team in the Western States Football League and Arizona Community College Athletic Conference. WVU head coach Neal Brown stated that he was the most improved player during spring practice.
Backups: Zach Davis (6-2, 308 lbs) r-jr
Zach was named All-State First Team Class A and USA Today All-West Virginia First Team at St. Mary’s High School. Made his first appearance last year against Baylor.
Blaine Scott (6-3, 321 lbs) r-fr
Scott was a Three-time All-Southern Ohio Conference First-Team and Associated Press Division VII All-Southeast District First Team at Sciotoville Community School.
Center Chase Behrndt (6-4, 305 lbs) r-so
Chase is now the starting center, after seeing paying time at guard and tackle last season. He played in 11 games and started three of them. The center position is the leader of the offensive line, calling out protections in the passing game and recognizing blitzes. According to his teammates he’s adjusted to the move quickly and is making the right calls.
Backups: Jacob Buccigrossi (6-3, 307 lbs) r-jr
Jacob suffered a shoulder injury that may keep him out of the 2019 season and the coaching staff is looking into a possible medical redshirt.
Adam Stilley (6-0, 291 lbs) r-so
Adam has seen no action in his time in Morgantown, but as a West Virginia native, he was a two-time all-state center.
Right guard Josh Sills (6-6, 326) r-jr
Sills is coming off a second team All-Big 12 selection by the coaches. He’s been pivotal in the running game and looks to make a big push as one of the conferences best guards, if not in the country.
Backup: Briason Mays (6-3, 300 lbs) r-fr
Mays has seen no action since joining the old gold and blue, however, he was a highly coveted lineman coming out of high school and was a two-time all-district selection.
Right tackle Kelby Wickline (6-4, 308 lbs) r-sr
Wickline made a name for himself after the win over the Texas Longhorns last season. He stepped up after Yodny Cajuste was ejected from the game and there was no drop off.
Backup: Tyler Thurmond (6-4, 298) r-so
Tyler only played in two games last season (TCU and Baylor). This is his third year in the program and has progressed with his hands and footwork.
Here are the rest of the offensive lineman that are currently on the roster. Although, they are not on the depth chart they can work their way up the chart this fall.
John Hughes (6-5, 298-lbs) r-so
The coaching staff added some immediate depth with the arrival of John Hughes from Navarro Community College. It’s not clear whether or not he will play guard or tackle, but it is believed he will be part of the two-deep. He had other offers from Florida State and Houston before selecting WVU.
Eric Sjostedt (6-3, 270 lbs) r-so
Eric played his high school ball at Bristol Academy of Sport in Bristol, United Kingdom where he was named the teams player of the year during his junior season.
Daniel Buchanan (6-4, 310 lbs) r-so
Daniel was named All-Cardinal Conference as a senior at Mingo Central High School.
Parker Moorer (6-3, 300-lbs) fr
Parker made the 2018 I-Meck 4A All-Conference Team at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Noah Drummond (6-0, 275-lbs) r-fr
Noah was a two-year starter at center for Bridgeport High School.
Tyler Connolly (6-4, 341-lbs) fr
Tyler flipped his commitment from Toledo to WVU as a walk-on.
Donavan Beaver (6-6, 313-lbs) fr
Donavan was a three-time All-5D Region, All-Commonwealth District First Team and Fredericksburg Free Lance Star All-Area selection.
James Gmiter (6-3, 300-lbs) r-fr
James was recruited as a defensive lineman under the Holgorsen era. However, Neal Brown moved him over to the offensive line during the spring.