Donahue Has Adapted To Plenty of Changes In His Time At WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–A fourth-year senior, West Virginia defensive tackle Reese Donahue just chuckles when he looks around.
“It is a lot different,” the Ona, W.Va., native said, thinking back to when he arrived at WVU in January of 2016. “We’ve gone through a lot of different players and a lot of different coaches, but ultimately this is still West Virginia; it’s still old gold and blue. We’ve got the same type of people here, a Mountaineer mentality with a blue-collar work ethic. This is still West Virginia, and that hasn’t changed.”
The attitude may remain the same, but the defensive scheme is definitely different under new head coach Neal Brown and his defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. Gone is the 3-3-5 odd stack WVU used the past five seasons under it previous D.C., Tony Gibson. Instead Koenning brings to West Virginia a multiple defense that at times is a 4-2-5 and other times is a 3-4 or even a 3-3.
“This is similar to what a lot of other people play,” Donahue explained. “We don’t have a true four down (defensive front). Instead we use a walk-up bandit (who at times acts as a defensive end and other times is an outside linebacker).
“There are a lot of things we have to learn. Right now it’s all install,” the exercise physiology major noted after Saturday’s spring practice session. “We are three days deep, and it’s all been install so far. But really, we’ve been installing this all winter. ‘Here’s your book, study it.’ So we’ve only been out (on the practice field) three days, but we’ve been working toward this for a couple months.”
For the 6-foot-4, 276-pound Donahue, his main position will continue to be defensive tackle, but he’ll move around some in the new scheme.
“I can start out in a three (technique, which is the defensive tackle), but we have a call where I bump over to a shade on the nose,” he explained. “We have another call where I’ll bump out to a five. There are times where I start out at a three or a four-i (inside eye of the offensive tackle) and can loop out to a seven. You never know. You have to have a bunch of versatile athletes, and I think they’ve done a great job developing that.”
While the scheme may change, the final goal remains the same.
“There are different styles and different defenses,” Donahue said. “There are differences (between WVU’s new scheme and its old one), but ultimately football is football and you can’t change too much.”
Besides schematics, the Mountaineer players are also adjusting to an entirely new coaching staff.
“We have to earn their trust just as much as they have to earn ours,” Donahue said.
Reese is adapting to a lot of new teammates as well, as graduation and attrition have whittled his original class of 2016, which started out with 27 signees, down to 16.
The Cabell Midland High grad is a grizzled veteran now, having played in 36 games since being inserted into the line up as a true freshman. Now he’s mentoring the next crop of young d-linemen.
“Some of the young guys like Dante Stills and Tyrese Allen, they’re coming out of their shells,” said Donahue. “I think Darius Stills is becoming a leader. Taijh Alston is new to the program, but he’s jumping on board. We have a lot of different pieces.”
One adjustment Reese has gotten used to is having a fiancée. Last fall, moments after West Virginia defeated Kansas, Donahue took the hand of his girlfriend, Sarah Moore, led her to midfield, dropped to one knee and proposed in front of an entire Mountaineer nation. Engaged six months now, the happy couple is planning their wedding, though the actual nuptials won’t take place until after Reese’s senior season has concluded.