It's no secret that West Virginia was looking to add some quality depth along the defensive line in the 2017 recruiting class. The Mountaineers lost all three starters from the 2016 season to graduation and return only two proven options for 2017 (sophomore defensive ends Reese Donahue and Adam Shuler). Thus, the Mountaineers added four new D-linemen in the 2017 class and position coach Bruce Tall seems encouraged by overall potential of the group.
West Virginia signed two freshmen (Lamonte McDougle and Darius Stills) and two junior college prospects (Ezekiel Rose and Jalen Harvey) in the class and there is no bigger need on the entire roster for immediate help than the nose guard position. In 2016 the nose was manned by seniors Darrien Howard and Christian Brown, and freshman Alec Shriner played sparingly. The hope is that Harvey will at least be able to provide quality competition in the spring and summer, and Bruce Tall likes what he sees from the juco product.
"He's a little bit of a different type of nose," said Tall. "You get some guys that are really quick and active and you get some guys that are really strong and powerful so it's a good mixture to have."
That blend of speed an power could make Harvey a prime candidate for some serious playing time in 2017 if the junior nose guard can get his frame ready for major Division 1 football by August. The other nose guard in the class, Lamont McDougle, committed just days ago and is much more likely to redshirt in the fall. Still though, Tall has been impressed by the potential of the 300 pound freshman.
"He's a real explosive young man," said Tall. "He plays inside at the nose position which is really nice because a lot of time you try to fit that profile of what you're looking for and he's exactly what we're looking for."
Ezekiel Rose, out of East Mississippi Community College, is the only true defensive end in the class and could provide immediate help rushing the passer off of the edge; the one thing that sticks out to Tall about Rose is his high motor.
"He's a real high motor guy that we got out of the junior college ranks," said Tall. "I'm excited about getting him here early and really getting him in the fold and accelerate his learning curve as fast as we can."
And last but certainly not least is Fairmont's own Darius Stills, who is the son of former Mountaineer Gary Stills, and could play either guard or defensive tackle for West Virginia down the road. Like McDougle, Stills will enter the program in fall camp and will have to pick things up quickly if he wants to avoid a redshirt. Tall admitted he's not sure whether the 295 pounder will play inside or outside for the Mountaineers, but is excited about the freshman's versatility and future potential.
"We really liked the way he played on tape," said Tall. "He did some really nice things and potentially he can either play on the inside or outside for us."