Donahue Remains Focused On Self Improvement With Opener Inching Closer
By Brian McCracken
With just over a month until the beginning of fall camp and a little over two months before West Virginia opens its 2017 season, buzz is starting to build and focus is starting to shift towards the all important opener against Virginia Tech, a match-up that figures to be one of the most anticipated season openers in West Virginia’s 126-year program history.
While fans and media alike can start to preview Virginia Tech, a Hokie squad that is rebuilding its offense and returning the entire back seven on defense, players are still shrugging off questions about game one and instead choosing to focus in on individual and team improvement.
Reese Donahue, a true sophomore who figures to start at defensive end for the Mountaineers this year, didn’t seem too concerned with the return of the rivalry.
“It’s our first game,” answered Donahue when asked about the game’s importance. “We’re worried about developing us and down the road we’ll look at the other stuff. It’s just game one for us and we’re trying to improve ourselves right now.”
In doing so, Donahue has put forth two goals. The first is on trimming body fat and building lean muscle, something that should help better prepare him for playing 70-plus snaps in the trenches come game time. The second is to become more of a vocal presence and a leader for a unit that was completely depleted my graduation.
“I definitely want to become more of a leader this year. I want to make sure that all of the guys behind me can rely on me up front. I want to develop more of brotherhood and I think that’s something we definitely have. We have come together closer as a team, especially over these last three weeks of summer. We have really developed well as a unit.”
There’s no doubt that the defensive line’s development will be crucial to the overall success of Tony Gibson’s unit in the upcoming season, as veterans Darrien Howard, Christian Brown and Noble Nwachukwu are all focused on continuing their careers at the professional level. While Donahue likes the chemistry that the line has developed, he acknowledges that the only way it can truly grow up is on the field.
“Having guys step up and take responsibility is a big part of it. As you play more games and actually get more snaps then our confidence level will build and we’ll know more of what we’re doing. It just comes with reps and snaps and seeing things on film. You have to spend time looking at film and studying plays. Our overall development just takes reps and takes time.”
Donahue and Adam Shuler, both sophomore defensive ends, have quickly become two of the most experienced players along the Mountaineers’ defensive line. Despite the lack of overall experience, Donahue feels that the line could be even deeper in 2017.
“I definitely feel like we have a lot more depth than everyone thinks. I’m seeing a lot more improvement out of a lot of guys who didn’t play a whole lot. A lot of guys are stepping up and I see a lot more guys that we can rely on. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that whoever coach puts in is going to get it done.”