A quick glance at the depth chart for head coach Neal Brown’s Mountaineers reveals that, prior to their home among the hills, a few of this season’s potential stars come from far beyond the Appalachians.
In the off-season, the WVU coaching staff was hard at work, filling crucial gaps at linebacker, cornerback, D and O lines, and safety. From as far away as Arizona and Maine, the new Mountaineers will seek to fulfill the roster needs ahead of the season, but it won’t be easy.
At linebacker, DeShawn Stevens comes to the Mountain State from the University of Maine. The 6’2, 255 lb redshirt senior will join the likes of veterans Josh Chandler-Semedo and Exree Loe. Stevens played 20 games with the Black Bears, but sustained a season-ending injury in the season opener of 2019. Prior to that injury though, he was voted team captain and registered five tackles in the game, so he could be a perfect central force alongside Chandler-Semedo.
Also at linebacker, Lance Dixon, formerly of Penn State, joins the Mountaineers. His redshirt freshman season with the Nittany Lions produced 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. His strength comes at WILL and challenges veteran Exree Loe. If all goes to plan, Dixon should become a mainstay of the line for the next four seasons.
Moving down the line, WVU picked up cornerback Charles Woods from Illinois State. The redshirt junior started all 15 games for the Redbirds in 2019, putting up 48 tackles, four interceptions, and 4.5 tackles for loss. He also found a home at punt return, a Mountaineer position formerly filled by Alec Sinkfield prior to his transfer to Boston College.
Further from home, Scottie Young, a redshirt senior from the University of Arizona, is set to take over the SPEAR position. A three-year starter at Arizona, he played 32 games and ended his tenure as a Wildcat with more than 150 tackles, seven pass breakups, and five interceptions.
Much closer to home, Doug Nester, a junior from Kenova, WV, joins the Mountaineer offense. After a two-season jaunt with the Virginia Tech Hokies, he’s back in the Best Virginia, and ready to take over right guard. He adds to the Spring Valley High School presence, joining Bryce Biggs, Wyatt Milum, Owen Chafin, and Graeson Malashevich.
Of coming back to the Mountain State from Virginia Tech, Nester said, “Here is much more detail-oriented to our blocking styles, so I’ve been coached up a lot more on the finer details of my game that I needed to improve.
“Coach Moore wants us to really develop our game as best we can and I think that’s a huge difference here than just trying to go out there and run it straight like it was at VT.”
Nester still has three years of eligibility left for the Mountaineers.