In an unexpected twist, West Virginia will not be adding as much defensive line depth for 2020 as we originally thought.
Former NC State defensive end Joseph Boletepeli had originally announced that he planned to transfer to West Virginia, but Ahmed Ghafir of AllTerrapins has reported that the redshirt-sophomore enrolled at Maryland last week.
Boletepeli’s commitment to WVU was not speculation, Botepeli himself announced the move in a since-deleted tweet on his Twitter account. He announced his transfer to WVU on June 16. He has made no such announcement for transferring to Maryland.
Maryland has an opening at defensive end, in part, because redshirt-junior Bryce Brand transferred from Maryland to West Virginia. Brand announced his transfer to WVU on May 18, almost a full month before Boletepeli.
The easy assumption to make here is that, with Brand going from Maryland to WVU, Boletepeli simply thought that he would have a better shot at playing time by going to Maryland. The Terrapins had recruited Boletepeli out of high school. However, without hearing from Boletepeli we will not know for sure.
Boletepeli and Brand were seemingly set up to play the same role on WVU’s team in 2020 as rotational defensive ends. With returners Taijh Alston and Jeffery Pooler Jr. back, neither Brand nor Boletepali had a clear path to starting or even significant playing time this season. They would likely have had to battle each other for whatever snaps they could get.
Boletepeli’s double transfer, sort to speak, thins out the Mountaineers at defensive end slightly, but overall should not have a major impact on the 2020 season. Beyond 2020, however, WVU could be hurt from a lack of young present on the defensive line. Right now, WVU is looking like it will play two seniors and four juniors on the line, with only one underclassman. The seniors, Pooler and preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Darius Stills with be gone for sure after this season, the juniors, Alston, Brand, Dante Stills and JUCO transfer Quay Mays could all be gone in two year, if not sooner.
The only underclassman expected on the defensive line this season is sophomore Jordan Jefferson. Boletepeli would have been another underclassman besides Jefferson that could have gotten some playing time in 2020 and taken on bigger roles in the coming years.