A Little Know-Howe: WVU's Defensive Line Goes from Area of Concern to One of Potential Strength for 2018

By Brad Howe on May 12, 2018 from A Little Know-Howe via Connect-Bridgeport.com

What a difference a few weeks makes in college football.
 
Not long ago, West Virginia ‘s defensive line seemed to be a mess. First, 2017 starter Adam Shuler announced he was leaving the program. Then freshman All-American Lamonte McDougle said he was transferring. 
 
Uh-oh. 
 
Was WVU going to be in the same position it was a year ago on the defensive line? There was no doubt this time last year that WVU was weak up front. However, as the season progressed there seemed to be a few bright spots. McDougle's play was certainly one of them. 
 
As 2017 came to a close and we began to project ahead to this season, it seemed as though WVU might have some pieces to work with on the defensive line. Then Shuler and McDougle say they're leaving and for a brief period it seemed as if WVU was back to square one when it came to the defensive front.
 
Not so fast. 
 
Sophomore-to-be, Darius Stills (Fairmont Senior) was one of the most talked about defensive players following spring practice. Tony Gibson raved about Stills to us during an appearance on our Citynet Sportsline radio show earlier this spring. Some think Stills' emergence late last year was a factor in McDougle deciding to head out of town. 
 
Then in late March, USC graduate transfer, Kenny Bigelow announced he was headed to WVU. Bigelow, a former top 25 national recruit, is listed at 6-3 300 pounds. He has suffered two significant knee injuries in his career, but count me among those that like taking a chance on a former high school star that has been part of a powerhouse program like USC. 
 
Combine three incoming freshman, led by Fairmont native Dante Stills, with veterans Ezekiel Rose and Reese Donahue (Cabell Midland High School) and suddenly you start to see the possibilities with this unit. But, Gibson's not done adding pieces to the puzzle. 
 
This week, Jabril Robinson, another graduate transfer (Clemson) announced he will be playing his final year at WVU. Why was Robinson available on the 'free agent' market? 
 
As Greg Hunter told us on Sportsline Thursday night, Clemson’s four starting defensive lineman for the upcoming season are currently ALL projected as top 20 NFL picks. 
 
Is Robinson an all-conference type of player that just couldn’t crack a stacked Clemson lineup? WVU certainly hopes so. Even if he’s not, as long as he is good enough contribute in some way, it will be well worth the scholarship for this season. 
 
A unit that looked to be in real trouble just a few weeks ago suddenly offers some exciting possibilities for the 2018 season. 
 
Editor's Note: Top photo of Darius Stills by Pete Emerson, while bottom photo of Lamonte McDougle by Dale Sparks. Both photos Courtesy of WVU Sports Communications.


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