For the most part, the West Virginia football team has dodged the injury bug so far this season.
That changed during Saturday’s 37-10 win over No. 16 Kansas State, however, as senior placekicker Evan Staley had to exit the game during the first half. Staley suffered an apparent injury while on kickoff coverage that held him out the rest of the game. On Sunday, Staley announced on Twitter that he would miss the remainder of the 2020 season.
“We all hurt for Evan, kind of a freak deal,” WVU football coach Neal Brown said Monday. “We missed on a kickoff and it got to him, which you never want a kickoff to get to your kicker, but it did and his leg gave out.”
Speaking on Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference, Brown confirmed that Staley’s injury will require surgery.
“Really unfortunate for him,” Brown said. “He’s got a great mentality about it, he’ll have surgery and he’ll bounce back. We don’t have any doubt about that with Evan.”
Staley has been a 73.6 percent field goal kicker in his career, going 6-9 this season. His career-long make is from 49 yards in 2018 and he has kicked 115 extra points.
Brown said that sophomore Casey Legg will take over the team’s kicking duties for the rest of the season. Legg has been used primarily in kickoffs in his short career but got some playing time last season while Staley was dealing with a groin injury. Legg made 2-4 attempts last season with a long of 51 yards.
Legg saw his first saw his first football action ever in a brief appearence against Baylor during his redshirt 2018 season, then served as Staley’s backup and played some in 2019. Still, the redshirt sophomore relatively inexperienced at kicking field goals, given that he did not play football in high school.
Legg is a Mountain State native who went to Cross Lanes Christian School located just outside Charleston — a small private school that does not have a football program. He instead played boys soccer, scoring 14 goals as a senior in 2018, according to MaxPreps.
“Casey Legg never played high school football,” Brown said. “Never kicked in a live game until last season when Evan had a little bit of a groin [injury]. The positive thing for us as a program is, Casey played in all but four games last year so he’s got experience.”
Legg was not eased into action last season. The first in-game field goal Legg ever attempted, in his life, was a potential game-tying 43-yarder in primetime against Baylor last season. Legg made his first kick, but a delay of game penalty took the points off the board and Legg’s subsequent 48-yard attempt was blocked. WVU lost to the Bears by three points.
“He never gets too high or too low,” Brown said of Legg. “He’s not a guy that succumbs to pressure. He’s got a great personality to be a specialist. He’s well-liked on our team and well-respected, not only as a football player but the kind of person he is. So he’s got the supports of our staff and our team and we don’t have any questions he’ll step in and be highly productive for us.”