West Virginia head coach Neal Brown had a big focus on the trenches when putting together his first recruiting class last year.
In Brown’s 2019 class, his first as Mountaineers head coach, WVU signed nine players along the offensive and defensive lines. Among them were defensive linemen Sean Martin and Akheem Mesidor, the only two true freshmen on WVU’s defensive line this season. High school defensive linemen Taurus Simmons and Eddie Watkins will both play bandit for the Mountaineers.
Martin was the top-rated in-state recruit last season out of Bluefield high school. Martin chose WVU overs offers from North Carolina, Penn State and Purdue, among others. Mesidor is a Canadian product who played at Clearwater Academy in Florida. He was an unexpected addition to the class, sign with WVU on national signing day without previously verbally committing anywhere.
The defensive line was one of WVU’s strongest positions last season and with so much talent returning for 2020, you would think it could be difficult for Martin and Mesidor to make much of an impact as true freshmen. After three days of camp, however, Brown sounds like he might have a different plan.
“Mesidor has got twitch and we knew that in recruiting,” Brown said after camp on Wednesday. “We thought he was a difference maker – and a potential early difference maker – and he is. He’s got a chance; if he’ll take coaching and get his fundamentals I think he’s got a chance to be special here.”
“Sean Martin was a big get for us and not only does he look the part but he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do since he’s been here,” Brown said. “He’s learning. The game is obviously at a different speed, but he’s extremely detail-oriented, he’s intelligent, he understands the game and he’s about the right things. I think he’s got a tremendous future.”
Even with the graduations of starters Reuben Jones and Reese Donahue, WVU will be returning 17.5 sacks and 33 tackles for loss along the line from last year’s team. Add in the four tackles for loss and sack Quay Mays had at Northwest Mississippi Community College and the four TFL and sack Bryce Brand had a Maryland and that is a lot of production coming back for the Mountaineers.
The one area where Martin and Mesidor could find some playing time is replacing injured defensive end Taijh Alston. Brown announced earlier this week that Alston is expected to miss the first half of the season with an injury.