WVU Football LB Lee Kpogba Embraces Leadership Role on Defense
When bringing up players who could step up as a leader of the WVU football defense, head coach Neal Brown immediately thought of Sean Martin.
This makes sense since Martin’s been on the team for four years now. But after talking about Martin, Brown mentioned one other name, and this player is only in his second year with the program.
Lee Kpogba is that other player Brown feels has the qualities he wants in a leader. While some may be surprised by Kpogba being a cast in that role after just joining the Mountaineers last year, he wasn’t caught off guard at all.
Kpogba was informed of what his head coach had to say when he spoke with the media following practice on Thursday and responded as a leader should – expecting it.
“I see myself as a leader last year. And my peers did too. So just having a year of experience under my belt, this second year coming up, taking on a bigger leadership role and lead these guys,” Kpogba said with confidence. He feels he’s just a natural leader, both with his play and how he handles himself.
Watch: WVU LB Lee Kpogba Discusses His Comfort Level, How Defense is Preparing
Some players have to develop the ability to lead while others like Kpogba embrace the role right away. Kpogba even expressed words of encouragement towards the younger players he’s having to lead.
”I think the young players that came in, I think they’re going to be great, great players. You know, they’re eager to learn. I see them in the weight room. They work hard. They’re always up here watching film trying to get better,” he said.
“Who are your leaders? Well, your leaders are your best players, your hardest workers and your best people,” Brown said as how he defines a player who can be a leader. Much like Martin, who he characterized as fitting each of those criteria, Kpogba checks off those boxes as well.
Neal Brown Points to Sean Martin as Candidate to Fill Leadership Void for Defense
It might be difficult for fans to truly know if a player is bringing the right traits off the field, but in the case of Kpogba, his success on the field is easy to understand. He took a big leap statistically speaking in his first season in Morgantown after spending his prior two college season with Mississippi Community College and Syracuse.
Kpogba recorded 92 total tackles and 3.5 sacks starting all 12 games for WVU throughout the 2022 season. He was even recognized individually by the conference, being regarded as an honorable mention on the All-Big 12 team.
Having a guy like Kpogba on the roster, now with an increased comfortability with his surroundings, is a major benefit for the WVU football program tries to recover from a disappointing season. It’s almost a guarantee that Brown will need to rely on leaders like Martin and Kpogba, and anyone else he can trust, with so much uncertainty surrounding the defense as it gets closer to kickoff in State College.