Good news for the West Virginia defense: many of its starting linebackers will be back for the 2020 season.
Josh Chandler is the top returner for WVU in the box. Although a knee injury shortened his season by three games, the sophomore finished as the team’s second-leading tackler with a total of 72.
Reshirt senior Dylan Tonkery, a native of Bridgeport, will bring a wealth of experience to the Mountaineers’ linebacker corps. He has the third-most tackles for loss on the team with 15.5, and started seven games at the mike position in 2019 before moving to bandit.
Chandler and Tonkery will have help from a slew of Mountaineers who saw action last year, including Exree Loe. The redshirt junior saw significant time on special teams last season, while starting three contests and bringing down 40 ball carriers.
Jarred Bartlett, Charlie Benton and VanDarius Cowan will provide some depth for West Virginia this year. Cowan and Bartlett gained experience last season but ultimately had shortened seasons for different reasons (Cowan suffered a season-ending injury while Bartlett redshirted and was limited to just four games). Benton will make his return to the field this year after missing the last two seasons with his own injury. All three linebackers have the ability to make an impact for the Mountaineers as they look to make up for the production lost by veteran Shea Campbell.
- Junior from Canton, Ohio
- 5-11, 228 lbs
- Ranked seventh in the Big 12 in total tackles, and finished with seven or more in six games.
- Redshirt Senior from Bridgeport, West Virginia
- 6-0, 228 lbs
- Tonkery was WVU’s tenth-leading tackler in 2019 with 36, including a season-high five against JMU, Missouri and Kansas State.
- Redshirt Freshman from Miami, Florida
- 6-2, 233 lbs
- Bartlett saw limited time last season, but had at least two tackles in all of his four appearances.
- Redshirt Junior from Johnstown, Pennsylvania
- 6-0, 212 lbs
Other Returners: VanDarius Cowan (r-Jr.), Charlie Benton (r-Sr.), Jake Abbott (r-Jr.) Melvin Brown (r-Fr.), Drew Joseph (r-Fr.), Luke Williams (r-Sr.)
Newcomers: The Mountaineers added a trio of freshman to their roster at bandit: Lanell Carr, Taurus Simmons and Eddie Watkins.