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WVU Athletes to Follow on NFL Football Pro Day

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Today, beginning at 2 p.m., West Virginia University will open its Caperton Indoor Practice Facility to scouts for NFL Football Pro Day.

The center of attention: six former WVU Football players. One representative from the offense, two from the special teams unit, and a trio of safeties form head coach Neal Brown’s output for the 2021 season. These six athletes have dedicated their lives to this sport, and their performances today will be indicative of their football futures.

For now, let’s take a look at 2021’s representatives and the legacy they’ve left in the gold and blue.

Running Back Leddie Brown

West Virginia football fans have become quite accustomed to the name Leddie Brown. WVU’s star running back has been a steadfast believer in the climb. His true freshman season, under head coach Dana Holgorsen, produced the team’s third-leading rusher (446 yards and four touchdowns) and 40.5 rushing yards a game (No. 17 in the Big 12 Conference). WVU fans should have known they’ve have a star on their hands when an 18-year-old Brown’s first catch as a Mountaineer became a 15-yard touchdown. Brown finished his time in Morgantown under the Neal Brown era, compiling 42 career games, 25 of which were starts.

2020 and 2021 were both 1,000+ rushing seasons for Brown, 6’1″, 195-pounds, during which time he contributed 22 touchdowns on 620 attempts; this kind of sheer production power granted him the role of 12th player in program history to log such a standard. His 2,888 career rushing yards also place him No. 6 in Mountaineer history; he also ranks No. 6 in program history in rushes (620), No. 7 in rushing touchdowns (27), and No. 9 in total touchdowns (32).

Although primarily a run threat, Brown also saw receptions fly his way out of quarterback Jarret Doege’s hand. In total, Brown logged 604 yards and five receiving touchdowns on 86 receptions.

He enters Pro Day after an illustrious career in the gold and blue, which includes All-Big 12 First Team as a junior, All-Big 12 Fourth Team and Honorable Mention as a senior, WVU Player of the Week (six-time), and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week in 2020. His final time representing WVU came on Feb. 3, 2022, when he competed at the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.

In Las Vegas, he got four chances to carry the ball, during which time he secured 16 yards, the second-most impressive of the East’s lineup. He also nabbed a single, short-yardage reception from Brown University’s EJ Perry to get a three-yard gain added to his stat sheet. Overall, not an outstanding day, but notoriety nonetheless. He was one of only 10 running backs in the country extended an invitation to the game.

At March’s NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.73 40-yard dash on both of his attempts, but it was corrected to 4.64. That slots him as the No. 26 running back of the 27 tested. His vertical jump, 30″, and broad jump, 118″, both place him near the bottoms of those events as well.

Safety Sean Mahone

Another long-term Mountaineer, the Liberty Township, Oh. native was rostered with the Mountaineers for six seasons, during which time he made his presence known. He played in 55 games, a program record, and started 35. After redshirting in 2016, Mahone was primarily used as a cornerback and as part of the special teams unit under Holgorsen’s staff.

In 2019, when head coach Neal Brown’s team was hired, they moved Mahone to CAT safety, where he immediately began to flourish. His tackles increased from six to 80, a team lead, between 2018 and 2019, and thus began his ascension. He added two sacks, five TFLs, an interception, and a forced fumble the latter season as well.

He would eventually finish his redshirt senior season with 224 career tackles (135 solo), seven TFLs for 25 yards, the sack duo, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. His football acuity isn’t even the most impressive thing about potentially drafting Mahone, though. Amid his All-Big 12 Second and Third Team and honorable mention honors, as well as two weeks spent as WVU Defensive Player of the Week, Mahone utilized WVU to earn his Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems and his Masters in Business Administration. He was a consistent member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll, and his pursuits in the classroom were equally, if not more, noticed by the higher powers.

He spent every season atop the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. In 2020, Mahone was named an NFF Foundation Scholar-Athlete Semifinalist and to the 2020 CoSIDA Academic All-American Second Team, making him the 29th in WVU Football’s program history. 2021 brought forth even more academic honors: making the NFF’s Scholar-Athlete Team and becoming a finalist for the William Campbell Trophy, the NCAA’s academic equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.

Mahone’s final time suiting up in the gold and blue came via an invite to the 2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, hosted at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Ca.; he was one of 19 defensive backs to get the call.

Safety Alonzo Addae

The second Mountaineer safety hoping for a shot at professional football is 5’10”, 190-pound, Ontario native Alonzo Addae. Although he spent the first three seasons playing for the New Hampshire Wildcats and redshirting in 2016, Addae found a home among the hills with Brown’s staff in 2019. He sat out the 2019 season to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements, but kicked his production into gear come 2020.

Of 23 career games with the Mountaineers, Addae started all of them. The 2020 season saw him in 10 games, during which time he notched 66 tackles (38 solo), two interceptions, and a forced fumble; of those interceptions, one against Eastern Kentucky was featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10. His picks ranked him No. 8 in the Big 12, and his 6.6 tackles per game afforded him No. 12 in the conference. He earned All-Big 12 Second and Third team honors for his 2020 work, as well as WVU Special Teams Player of the Week after the Eastern Kentucky game.

Between 2020 and his 2021 season, Addae was drafted No. 13 to the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Redblacks, but Addae opted to return to WVU to take advantage of his COVID-19 eligibility.

2021, his super senior season, was also cholk-full of national notoriety. He was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Second and Third teams, as well as to the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List all before he had a single sack to his name that season. When he did step onto the field, he produced. His sixth year of eligibility concluded with 73 tackles (45 solo) over 13 games, including eight each against Texas Tech and Kansas State, 4.5 sacks, and his first career fumble recovery. Behind Josh Chandler-Semedo and Mahone, Addae became the team’s third-leading tackler.

Addae concluded his Mountaineer career with an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, a Lott IMPACT Trophy National Defensive Player of the Week honor for Sept. 21, and by being named a finalist for the 2021 Canadian Cornish Trophy, indicating the NCAA’s top Canadian player.

Punter Tyler Sumpter

Punter Tyler Sumpter is a good, old Southern boy, and one which WVU head coach Neal Brown knew keenly of ahead of either’s WVU debuts. Sumpter, a Birmingham, Al. native, found a home with Brown’s staff at Troy in 2016. He redshirted that season, but came out of the following season as Troy’s stellar punter and place-kicker. He was perfect through 34 extra points and averaged 40 yards on 59 punts, good for a trio of touchbacks.

2018 and 2019 saw him connect on a combined 32-of-42 field goals and 91-for 91 extra point attempts. Both seasons found him on the All-Sun Belt Conference team, and 2018 awarded him a No. 16 national field goals made ranking.

After transferring from Troy in Aug. 2020, Sumpter reunited with the staff which had recruited him to the NCAA. Brown’s team switched his duties between field goals and punt team, but Sumpter took the onus and solidified his position as a Pat McAfee-style punter for the Mountaineers. He appeared in nine games during the 2020 season, during which time he ranked No. 4 in the Big 12 in punting with 40.5 yards per kick. Thirty-seven punts yielded 1,499 yards, two touchbacks, and two punts which sailed more than 50 yards; his long for the season was a 56-yarder during the Eastern Kentucky game.

He dramatically improved his distance and hang time in 2021, and the Big 12 Conference noted it. The league gave him All-Big 12 Honorable Mention after he finished the season with 52 punts for 2,261 yards, an average of 43.5 yards per punt. His long of 72 yards against Baylor became the 10th longest punt in school history. That 43.5 yard-per-punt statistic also ranked him No. 36 nationally and No. 2 in the Big 12.

Kicker Evan Staley

Mahone saw action in 55 WVU games, but kicker Evan Staley came in third with 53 career games in the gold and blue. Staley, a Romney, W.Va. native, grew up wanting to play for the Mountaineers… and he manifested one of the most prolific kicking careers in program history.

Staley redshirted in 2016, but used 2017 to take over the kicking duties from Mike Molina. Through 13 games, he recorded 77 kickoffs for 4,532 yards and an average of 58.9 yards per kick. Of those 77 attempts, 27 found the end zone. In eight games, he averaged more than 60 yards. His hard work was commended when he returned to the team ahead of 2018.

Holgorsen’s staff granted him a full scholarship following awarding him the Tommy Nickolich award, given to the team’s best walk-on. Staley exclusively handed kicking duties, charting 16-of-20 in field goals, 59-60 in extra points, and leading the team in scoring, and sitting at No. 25 in the country, with 107 points. On kick-offs, Staley registered 24 touchbacks on 74 kickoffs. A total of 4,187 yards broke down to an average of 56.6 yards per kick. The season finale Camping World Bowl saw Staley go perfect on four field goals; he set two Camping World Bowl records that day: most field goals and longest field goal (49 yards).

When he returned to Milan Puskar Stadium in 2019, he was named to the Lou Groza Award and Wuerffel Trophy Watch Lists, but was sidelined four games with a leg injury. The nine remaining games watched him blossom into WVU’s premier special teams weapon. His 33 career field goals ranked him No. 7 in Mountaineer football history. He finished the season leading the team in scoring with 54 points.

2020 brought forth yet another lower extremity injury, this time a season-ending knee injury sustained versus Kansas State. In the first six games of the season, Staley was off to a hot start. He went 6-of-9 on field goal attempts and proved flawless through 19 extra points to finish with 37 points, second-best on the team.

After being plagued by injury the past two seasons, Staley was in luck when he and his teammates were granted COVID-19 eligibility. Staley made the most of his final season. He handled kickoff duties, concluding with 52 kicks for 2,261 yards and nine touchbacks. He ranks No. 6 on WVU’s career extra points made list (117) and No. 7 in school history in career field goals made (39) and kick scoring (232).

Safety Scottie Young

San Diego, Ca.’s Scottie Young will conclude today’s WVU Pro Day offerings. The 5’10”, 207-pound defensive back came to the Mountain State in 2020 after a three-season jaunt with the Arizona Wildcats. In Tucson, he took over primarily free safety roles, as well as some spur. He played 32, and started 29, games for the University of Arizona and logged 157 tackles (116 solo), nine TFLs, and five interceptions.

Upon arrival to defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley’s scheme come 2020, Young was slotted primarily in an improvised SPEAR position during the season finale Liberty Bowl. Due to transfer protocol, that was the only game he could play with the Mountaineers. He made the most of the opportunity, securing four tackles (three solo) against Army.

2021 saw him win the 2021 Iron Mountaineer Award to kick off the season. He proceeded to see snaps in 10 games at SPEAR, six of which were starts. He finished the season with 33 tackles, including 27 solo stops, a TFL duo, and three pass breakups, enough to make him the team’s 11th most impressive secondary player.

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