Developing Defender

Despite an influx of defensive line talent in this year's class, West Virginia is combing next year's prep prospects to add depth and skill.

One player who can provide both is Tyrone Ezell, a rangy, still-developing player whose upside is as great as any. Ezell hasn't played significant organized football, and instead concentrated on wrestling for years. His strength has been built from that sport, and Ezell has only recently begun a serious weight lifting regiment. His body, however, is thick through the arms, shoulders and core, and once he begins to better understand technique, he could be an instant boost to West Virginia.

The Mountaineers have yet to offer, but are eyeing the Steel Valley High player who currently has offers from Pitt, Rutgers, Illinois, Colorado and Virginia. There is no timetable for a decision, as Ezell believes his stock will continue to rise as he gains exposure. The combine in Pittsburgh on March 30 was just his second ever, the first being a MetroIndex combine last year. But with his first-team performance at defensive line at the UPMC facility, his name is beginning to show on multiple collegiate recruiting boards.

"This is really new to me, something like this," Ezell said prior to the drills. "This gives players an opportunity to show scouts and people what they have and to get their name put out there even more. I am hoping to get more offers, and I have a lot of people telling me that during my senior year they will really start rolling in. You only can pick one, but it's nice to have them all."

Ezell, at 6-5 and 255 pounds, runs a 4.75 40-yard dash. His skill level is just now beginning to catch up to his body. Ezell said he was 6-2 at age 12, then began to level off. At 6-5, however, he is a perfect size for a lineman, and when he combines coaching with increased skill, he will be a major recruit at end and tackle. He has also played offensive line in high school.

"I'm looking for a good program, good coaches and a nice place to live in for four years," he said. "Good academics. It's all-around basically, a place where they will help you for four years to get an education and prepare for life. That, and being close to home. I will major in business."

The desire to play close to home could eliminate Colorado and Illinois, and perhaps even Virginia. If WVU were to offer, it would likely be battling Pitt and Rutgers, and perhaps Penn State if the Lions become interested. Currently rated 23rd at defensive end, Ezell is a three-star prospect who expects to attend several camps this summer in an attempt to elevate his status. He is undecided on attending West Virginia's camp.

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