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WVU DC Jordan Lesley Labels Freshman LB James Heard: ‘One of Our Best Pass Rushers’



Malachi Ruffin and James Heard Jr.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – All signs point to WVU freshman linebacker James Heard Jr. making an immediate impact for the Mountaineers. Only a couple days into fall camp, defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley has already wasted no time in gushing over Heard.

“He’s exactly who we thought he was. One of our best natural pass rushers. He had a pick today off a tipped ball just off reaction,” Lesley said about Heard while going over lesser known players who are already standing out. West Virginia knew Heard, a four-star recruit out of St. Joe’s Prep in Philadelphia, PA, had talent and ability, but seeing it in action really puts his potential into perspective.

Having confidence in a young linebacker is also a nice benefit for the WVU defense since it’s a position that lacks depth, especially compared to the rest of the defensive side of the ball.

Lesley’s comments only echo what Brown said when he signed the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Heard and then felt again in the spring. “He had 18 sacks in nine games. He’s an elite pass rusher. He’ll be a guy that will play from our first game, I really feel strongly about that,” said Brown when Heard officially became a Mountaineer on National Signing Day.

Neal Brown Proclaims WVU Freshman LB James Heard Will Have Impact in 2023 Season

Brown then elaborated once he saw Heard on the practice field. “He’s about as natural of a pass rusher as we’ve recruited. He’ll be a factor for us in the Fall,” said Brown about Heard. These are big words to say about a freshman. Brown is often noncommittal about proclaiming how much a freshman will play right away, but already feels confident to let the world know he expects Heard to have an impact.

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