WVU Football Roster: Attrition And Addition
West Virginia’s football program has undergone plenty of changes since the Mountaineers walked off the field after their Camping World Bowl loss last December.
Obviously the entire coaching staff has turned over, as Dana Holgorsen left for Houston and all his assistant coaches went elsewhere. In came Neal Brown, bringing in basically a new staff with him.
On top of the coaches and administrators, there’s been a great deal of turnover among the players as well. West Virginia saw 14 seniors from last year’s squad graduate, including some all-time greats like Will Grier, Gary Jennings, David Sills and Yodny Cajuste. In addition, WVU had 23 underclassmen, who had eligibility remaining, leave the program for various reasons. Of those 23, 12 were scholarship student-athletes. On the other end, Brown has added 39 newcomers to his squad since January, including 26 scholarship players.
Here is a look at those individuals who have come and gone.
Gone From the 2018 Roster
There are 23 players who had eligibility remaining after the 2018 season but are no longer on the team. That does not include VanDarius Cowan, who is suspended and not available for the first four games, but is still on the roster. Of those 23, 12 were scholarship players and 11 were walk-ons
Jordan Adams, senior (class he would be this year) cornerback who transferred to UMass. Never more than a special teams player in his Mountaineer career.
Tyrese Allen, redshirt freshman defensive lineman who transferred to Murray State. Didn’t see any action in his only season at West Virginia.
E.J. Brown, sophomore safety, left WVU, current status is unknown. Never was much of a factor outside of special teams.
Jacob Buccigrossi, junior offensive line who was forced to give up football for medical reasons after a string of injuries throughout his career.
Brendan Ferns, junior linebacker who was forced to give up football for medical reasons. Blue chip recruit, but battled injuries throughout his career before eventually having to retire.
Matt Jones, senior offensive lineman who transferred to Youngstown State. WVU’s starting center in 2017 and 2018, but announced his decision to leave West Virginia last December.
David Long, senior linebacker who, bypassed last college season for the NFL and is currently with Tennessee Titans
Derrek Pitts, junior safety who transferred to Marshall. Likely would been a starter this year, but left the program in June.
Kenny Robinson, junior safety who left WVU, current status is unknown. Starter for the Mountaineers as a freshman and sophomore, and would have been a major part of this year’s defense if he had remained.
Skyler Simcox, senior placekicker who left WVU, current status is unknown. Wasn’t much of a factor in his only season at West Virginia.
Marcus Simms, senior wide receiver who left WVU. Was a starter for the Mountaineers last year and would have been the leading returning receiver this season, if he had remained. Now on the injured reserve list for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Dillon Spalding, redshirt freshman receiver who was planning to transfer to James Madison but was forced to give up football for medical reasons. Didn’t play in his only season with the Mountaineers as he was dealing with a knee injury.
Defensive lineman Connor Barwis, tight end Jesse Beal, tight end Matt Bejzak, slot receiver Kwincy Hall, safety Chase Hill, placekicker Luke Hogan, wide receiver Kolby Mack, linebacker Jaydon McGhee, cornerback Barry Moreland, defensive back Rashon Lusane and running back Brady Watson.
New to the 2019 Roster
There are 26 scholarship newcomers who have joined West Virginia’s football program since the end of the 2018 season, and another 13 walk-ons who are in their first year with the Mountaineers. Of the scholarship newcomers, four came from the junior college ranks, seven are transfers from four-year colleges and 15 are true freshmen. Twelve of the 13 walk-ons are true freshmen, with only sophomore fullback Jackson Knipper, who transferred to WVU after two years at Western Michigan, entering with previous college experience.
Alonzo Addae, a fourth-year junior cornerback transferred to WVU from New Hampshire this summer. A native of Ontario, Canada, Addae will have to sit out the 2019 season and then have one season of college eligibility remaining after that.
George Campbell, a fifth-year senior wide receiver transferred to WVU from Florida State this summer. The former five-star recruit from Clearwater, Florida, is a grad transfer who has one season of college football remaining. He is proving to be a very good special teams player and is also battling to get into the rotation at receiver, though his exact role there is still unclear.
Jarret Doege, a third-year junior quarterback, transferred from Bowling Green to WVU this summer. While the NCAA has ruled Doege eligible for immediate playing time in 2019, Neal Brown has said the plan for the Lubbock, Texas, QB is to redshirt him this coming season, thus giving him two years of remaining college eligibility starting in 2020.
Josh Growden, a fifth-year senior punter transferred from LSU to WVU this past month. A grad transfer who has one season of college eligibility remaining, the Australia native is likely to serve as West Virginia’s starting punter and holder in 2019.
Reuben Jones, a fifth-year senior defensive lineman who transferred from Michigan to WVU this summer is agrad transfer with one season of college eligibility remaining. The Lakeland, Florida, native is in the mix to be part of a three-man rotation this fall for the Mountaineer at defensive end.
Austin Kendall, a fourth-year junior quarterback transferred to WVU from Oklahoma in January. A grad transfer who has two seasons of college eligibility remaining, Kendall recently was named West Virginia’s starting quarterback for the coming year by head coach Neal Brown.
Sean Ryan, a second-year sophomore receiver who transferred to WVU from Temple in May, is still awaiting a final decision by the NCAA on his appeal to be granted immediate eligibility. If he is allowed to see game action this fall, he probably is a starting wide receiver for the Mountaineers. If his waiver is denied, he does have a redshirt option and thus would have three years of eligibility left starting in 2020.
Junior College Transfers
Taijh Alston is a third-year sophomore defensive end who arrived at WVU in January after a year at Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College. Alston, who initially attended East Carolina, quickly became part of West Virginia’s defensive end rotation during spring drills, and now well be the starter at that position.
Noah Guzman, a second-year sophomore safety, arrived at WVU this summer after one year at Cerritos (Calif.) College. The La Puente, California, native is trying to work his way into the two-deep at safety this season, but he does have a redshirt available. Thus if he doesn’t play in more than four games in 2019, he could return with three years of eligibility remaining in 2020.
John Hughes, a second-year sophomore offensive lineman, arrived at WVU in May after one year at Navarro (Texas) College. The Carrollton, Texas, native does have three years of eligibility remaining and four years in which to use it, but a redshirt this year is highly unlikey, as he’s pushing for a starting job right now.
Dreshun Miller s a third-year junior cornerback who arrived at WVU in January after two seasons at Eastern Arizona College. A highly-regarded recruit from the junior college ranks, Miller seemed to be very much a part of WVU’s cornerback plans after his strong spring practice, but injuries this fall have greatly limited his practice time and left doubts about where he stands on the depth chart.
Jared Barlett, being groomed to be WVU’s bandit of the future. He has earned high praise but is likely to redshirt this season.
Donavan Beaver, offensive lineman. Has played mainly guard in the preseason. Will redshirt this year.
Nicktory Fortune, cornerback. Has quickly earned a spot for himself on the depth chart. Brown has also said the Roswell, Georgia, native pushing for a starting job, and while that may tough to accomplish right away this season, he’ll almost certainly see game action.
Jordan Jefferson, nose tackle. Darius Stills will start at the nose tackle position, but Jefferson is pushing senior Brenon Thrift for the backup job. WVU d-line coach Jordan Lesley wants to rotate three nose tackles, so even if Jefferson is third-string, he would seem very likely to see action this year.
Ali Jennings, wide receiver. Has good size and ability but will probably redshirt.
Kerry Martin, safety. Enrolled at WVU in January, and that jumpstart on his college career has helped him move into a position where he’s likely to play this coming fall on both special teams and as a backup safety.
Tony Mathis, running back. Has shown promise this fall, but in a crowded backfield with four veterans ahead of him, Mathis is probably headed for a redshirt this year. His time will come starting in 2020 after current seniors Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway have graduated.
Tae Mayo, cornerback. Brown has said that Fortune is a little further had than Mayo at the cornerback position, but both are likely to play this year.
Kolton McGhee, placekicker & punter. Prior to the transfer of Josh Growden, McGhee seemed likely to be WVU’s punter this season. But now McGhee will probably redshirt.
Parker Moorer, offensive lineman. Playing mainly guard, Moorer has drawn good reviews from WVU offensive line coach Matt Moore, but still the youngster from Charlotte will almost certainly redshirt.
Tykee Smith, safety. Began fall camp at the spear but moved back to the free safety position midway through the preseason. Now he’s put himself in a spot where he’s fighting for a backup job and very likely will play this coming season.
Jalen Thornton, defensive line. The Mountaineer coaches would like to redshirt this youngster from Cincinnati, allowing him to get bigger and stronger than his current 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, but defensive line coach Jordan Lesley has indicated that he will play. The question at this point is whether or not he plays in more than four games, which would prevent him from keeping his redshirt.
Tacorey Turner, cornerback. Fortune and Mayo are apparently a little higher in the pecking order at the position than their positionmate/classmate. The coaches like Turner’s potential but hope to redshirt him.
Winston Wright, slot receiver. The Pooler, Georgia, native has caught eyes this preseason with his playmaking ability. The hope would be to redshirt him, but that still seems to be a flip of the coin right now.
Brandon Yates, offensive tackle. The Las Vegas native had to finish up academic work this summer, and thus was unable to arrived at WVU until right before fall camp started in early August. That left him a couple months behind his classmates, but the 6-foot-4, 285-pounder quickly showed he wasn’t too far behind. Playing mainly tackle, Yates will likely redshirted, though a rash of injuries could change that.
Punter Leighton Bechdel, safety Michael Boaitey, defensive lineman Roemeo Bowen, receiver Freddie Brown, offensive lineman Tyler Connolly, punter Matt Daniel, defensive end Rhett Heston, linebacker Drew Joseph, fullback Jackson Knipper, slot receiver Graeson Malashevich, offensive lineman Nick Malone, cornerback Naim Muhammed and safety Jayvon Thrift.