Lageman Ready For WVU Experience

Like most freshman football walk-ons, Huntington High School's J.B. Lageman is realistic about his chances of early playing time at West Virginia. However, that's not going to keep the in-state standout from doing everything he can to make an impact at the school he has dreamed of playing for.

"It's definitely an uphill battle, so I know I won't be starting," Lageman said with a laugh following his South team's 24-14 triumph in the West Virginia North-South game on June 21. "I know going in that I have a lot to learn; that's one of my goals. We have Bill Kirelawich, and he's a great defensive line coach. He put two guys in the NFL last year. So I just want to learn from him, learn from the older guys, and then try to work toward rotating in over the next year or two."

Lageman, who was double-teamed for much of the North-South game at his defensive end position, showed good outside moves in the contest, and recorded two tackles for losses as well as narrowly missing a pair of quarterback sacks. He will likely begin his career at WVU at that spot, but could also get looks elsewhere on the defense. At six feet, four inches and 245 pounds, he could play several positions, depending on how he grows and fills out.

"WVU has been talking about playing me at either defensive end or mike linebacker, and they are going to try me out at fullback as well," Lageman explained. "Pretty much anybody with any size, they said they are going to try them out at fullback to see how they do."

Lageman was just one of several WVU walk-ons in the contest. Teammate Marquel Ali (who was named the South MVP with 165 all-purpose yards), along with the North's Josh Contraguerro, Dustin Peters and Chris Martin, all talked about the challenges that await them at West Virginia.

"We've been talking about getting up there and getting in training, and some of the older guys probably laying us out," he said with a chuckle. "We're just really excited to get there."

Also similar to many walk-ons, Lageman had other opportunities for football scholarships. However, in the end, the lure of a national program and the dreams of playing for the state's flagship school proved too strong to overcome.

"I had a few offers from some smaller schools, and from some West Virginia conference schools, and I thought about taking one of those," Lageman admitted. "But I just really wanted to walk-on at West Virginia. I've been watching them for a few years now, and really started to get interested in them. I love the program up there, and I love Coach Stew."

Lageman was also likely attracted by West Virginia's winning tradition. After struggling through a 1-9 senior season at Huntington, a win in even an All-Star game was nice.

"It was great to get the win," he said. "We worked really hard. The North started to come back in the second half, but the we started to pour it back on them on defense. It was great to go out with a win."

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