MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – There is one position battle still ongoing on WVU’s offensive line, but regardless of who wins that competition, WVU will have three West Virginia natives starting up front.

Zach Frazier, Doug Nester and Wyatt Milum are key contributors on the offensive line, but this year a fourth homegrown Mountaineer has earned a consistent spot in the rotation.

“Seven is where it’s at right now,” head coach Neal Brown said. “The six that played last year [will play], and Nick Malone has moved up.”

The Morgantown native is entering his fifth season with the program, and has seen his role increase each season. He redshirted in 2019, played in two games the following season, and then saw action in every game during the past two seasons.

Malone made his first career start against Oklahoma State in 2021 and saw nearly 100 snaps. Last season, he continued to add depth at the tackle position but expanded his opportunity as he became a starter on special teams.

As one of the key reserves, Malone’s playing time is expected to climb once again.  

“He’s just gotten stronger,” Brown said. “He’s been athletic. If you watched him in high school, he was a guy who was kind of thin, and when I say I thin, [I mean] 270 pounds. He’s 6-5.”

For comparison, the other six offensive linemen range from 316 pounds to 326 pounds. Malone is currently listed at 298-pounds on the roster, but Brown said over a three-year span, they’ve got him up to 305.

“He’s gained weight and gotten stronger, that’s what given him an opportunity,” Brown said. “He’s got patience. He’s been self-aware early in his career about what he needs to do to get better and now he’s seeing the fruits of that.”

Entering the 2022 season, the Morgantown High School product was named the Tommy Nickolich Memorial Award recipient. The award is handed out annually to the WVU football program’s top walk-on player.

Exactly seven months later, Malone was rewarded with a scholarship after practice on Thanksgiving Day.