Following The Trail

Devon Lyons is traveling a path only a handful of other players have trod in their collegiate careers, but he has a roadmap to follow.

Lyons, who will graduate from Ohio State next week, is taking advantage of a ruling that will allow him to play his final year of eligibility at West Virginia. Several other players have done so under various interpretations of an NCAA rule allowing such post-graduate transfers, but Lyons has an advantage – he knows what the road is like, because his cousin, Ryan Mundy, did the same thing at West Virginia last year.

"I don't think the transition will be all that hard," Lyons said while getting ready for graduation at OSU. "I've talked to him some about it, and it really worked out well for him. He had a great year at West Virginia, and ended up getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. I want to follow that path. I hope I can get there, put up some numbers and help the team, do well, and maybe look at the pros."

It is, perhaps, a bit of an oddity that the two players came to WVU from such polar opposites – Mundy, of course, played at Michigan before winding up his career at WVU. That's something that Lyons and Mundy didn't talk about much, but they did share many of the thoughts and experiences they had in making the decision to play one more year at a different school. Both seriously considered West Virginia out of high school before opting for the Big Ten. Lyons wants to complete the cycle that Mundy did, with a shot at the NFL.

Mundy, of course, parlayed an excellent, if somewhat under-the-radar, senior season at WVU into a real chance at an NFL career. He not only got notice from scouts for his tall frame and solid measurables, but also for the steadying influence he brought to West Virginia's defensive secondary. While he didn't put up big numbers, he minimized mistakes, covered for others, and helped WVU's defense become one of the best in the nation. If Lyons can repeat those accomplishments, he could get an NFL shot as well.

If it occurs, that chance will likely come on the offensive side of the ball. After some debate, WVU's coaches have told Lyons that he will start out as a wide receiver. He was also a safety prospect, but as the search continues for productive wide receivers that can get downfield and catch the ball, it became apparent that he would have the chance to help more quickly at one of those positions. But with only one year to go, Lyons doesn't have the time for a shallow learning curve. He will have to hit the ground running and show his ability to contribute right away, just as Mundy did, in order to make his mark.

Of course, that puts Lyons in competition with younger brother Wes, who is also trying to break through and become a regular starter on the outside. Head-to-head competition doesn't concern Devon, but he notes that there will probably be more help that direct competition between the pair.

"The coaches talked to Wes and to me about putting us on opposite sides, so we wouldn't be up against each other," Devon noted. "But there's always competition when you are at the same position. I think we'll help each other as much as we can, and it might be a little bit of an advantage for me since West Virginia is putting in some new stuff on offense. Everyone will be learning about that, so we will all be at the same level in learning the new plays."

That factor will also keep Devon from yielding the "big brother" role to Wes in terms of experience.

"I don't look at it as a jealousy thing or anything like that," Devon noted of being the new player on the block to his brother's more veteran status in the WVU program. "We're going to live together, and we've always talked a lot and been close. When I was at Ohio State, we probably talked two or three times a week, but now that my move is closer, we're talking a lot more. He's excited about me getting there. We talk about football, games, and summer workouts, but we talk about other things that college students and brothers talk about too."

Before Devon reports to West Virginia, he will take a graduation trip to Jamaica, where he has traveled before. He is looking forward to the trip and the one bit of relaxation he will allow himself before making his push for a great close to his collegiate career. The path is laid – and he believes that he can follow it.

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