MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – At this point in junior defensive lineman Eddie Vesterinen’s career, it’s time to make a jump.
With the departure of Dante Stills to the NFL, Vesterinen is next up for a starting position along the defensive line. His talent and instinctual awareness helped him get to this point.
“When I first got here, I [had] pretty good instincts about how to play d-line,” Vesterinen said. “You have to [beat] the o-lineman and go get the ball. I think I had pretty good effort. I was chasing the ball.”
Like many players with America high school backgrounds, his instincts were bred by dominating his opponents at a young age.
At 16, Vesterinen started playing with the local men’s team in Helinski, Finland. He was competing against players who ranged between 20 and 30 years old. In 2019, he was named the Finland Men’s National League Lineman of the Year. He helped lead the National Team to three national championship tournament appearances.
Since joining WVU, he has taken over 250 snaps and recorded over a dozen tackles in two seasons. He even has a start to his name. In that time, he’s fallen back on his instinct, but he is also growing on the mental side.
“Throughout my time here, I think I’ve learned so much about pre-snap indicators and how to align,” he said.
“It begins with the splits. How wide are the splits? How far is he from the center? Is he close to the center or a bit down? Is he pulling? How much weight does he put on his hand? [I] look at his eyes. Where does he look at? Just trying to find the different keys. When I go through film, I try to look for keys that can tell me [that] this might be a pass key if I see him do this. Or this might a heavy run if he does this.”
He can probably talk all day about reading running backs’ eyes, offensive line protections and run-play combos, which is even more impressive for someone whose first language wasn’t English.
The extra effort from Vesterinen comes from the desire to “become a faster player” after noticing the increased speed in American football when he joined the program two years ago.
That mindset is the exact one for which WVU coaches are looking.
“If you give me five-to-10 guys that’ll play like Eddie V, I’ll take that,” defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley said. “I’ll take that all day.”