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Projected 5 breakout players on offense/defense in 2019

Schuyler Callihan

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Photo credit: 247 Sports

A new era of football in Morgantown is under a month away and with guys like Will Grier, Gary Jennings, David Sills V, Yodny Cajuste and David Long off to the NFL, new stars are set to emerge. Today, we take a look at five guys on both sides of the ball who may be the next great Mountaineer.

Offense

RB- Leddie Brown (So)

Although the Mountaineers have two seniors returning at the running back position, Brown could make a strong push to be the number one guy at some point this season. He packs a punch and can run through defenders with ease. What stands out about most him is his pure strength. Keep in mind he’s only a sophomore, so there will still be growing pains, but the ceiling is extremely high for Leddie.

WR- Sam James (r-Fr)

When you put on his tape, you see star potential within the first 30 seconds or so. Great hands, tremendous speed and is a reliable target. He has all the tools to become the next great West Virginia wide receiver. James is a first round type talent, but how long will it take for him to reach that potential?

WR- Bryce Wheaton (r-Fr)

After recovering from a shoulder injury in 2017, redshirting in 2018, and having a rough spring in 2019, Wheaton looks to turn his fortunes around. He’s very lengthy and has seriously bulked up over the offseason, so much to the point that head coach Neal Brown said he’s the most improved player and “he’s as talented as anyone in the program.” Look for him to be a possession guy and be the guy they throw the 50/50 balls to in the corner of the end zone.

TE- Jovani Haskins (r-Jr)

Trevon Wesco had a breakout season in 2018 for the Mountaineers, so Haskins has to be next, right? One would think, especially since Haskins was always viewed as the better receiving tight end. He got his feet wet last year making a few big plays, but 2019 should be his year to take that next step. The big question is how often will Neal Brown utilize the tight ends in the passing game?

OL- Michael Brown (r-Jr)

One of the best stories in all of college football. Didn’t play football in high school, played briefly at Eastern Arizona junior college and is now poised to make his first career start at guard. The Compton, California native is a massive unit, but will have to continue to work on getting in shape to play more snaps. He’s made outstanding progress according to the staff, but it’s only the beginning.

Defense

DL- Dante Stills (So)

This one was kind of a no brainer. His dad, Gary, was an all-time legend and he possesses similar traits that his father once had. Now that he has a more clear path to playing time, watch for him to make a huge jump in production this fall. You could even include his brother, Darius as a potential breakout player.

LB- VanDarius Cowan (r-So)

You may not know much about him now, but that won’t be the case by the end of the season. The former consensus five star, Alabama linebacker has NFL talent. He also has NFL size (6’4” 233 lbs), something the Mountaineers have not had at the position in years. Cowan could certainly earn all-conference honors as early as this season. He’s going to make a ton of plays and big ones at that.

LB- Josh Chandler (So)

Learning behind David Long Jr. has helped Chandler immensely. He is very similar in stature and build as Long and also has a knack of making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Like Long, Chandler will be one of the tougher linebackers to block in the Big 12.

CB- Dreshun Miller (Jr)

Before flipping his commitment to West Virginia, Miller was committed to the LSU Tigers. This was a big get for Dana Holgorsen and staff and was even a bigger deal for Neal Brown and his staff to retain him. With Keith Washington and Hakeem Bailey being returning seniors, expect Miller to be the first man off the bench to sub in. He’s got great ball skills and can smother receivers in coverage.

S- Kwantel Raines (r-Fr)

An Aliquippa product that West Virginia fans have known about for quite some time, Raines is ready to make his mark in 2019. With some players transferring out of the program, Raines will likely be filling a much bigger role this season. He has similar cover skills as former Mountaineer Kyzir White and can lay the lumber just as good as anyone.

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