Success for WVU in 2020 will start with the offensive line, a unit that struggled often during the first year of the Neal Brown era.
WVU averaged just 73 rushing yards per game in 2019, rankin No. 128 out of 130 FSB teams. The unit’s pass protection, though, was better: WVU allowed about 1.75 sacks per game last fall.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for WVU is replacing standout Colton McKivitz, a consistent starter who ended his collegiate career as the Big 12’s offensive lineman of the year. McKivitz was later selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft and recently signed his first pro contract.
Along with McKivitz, Kelby Wickline departed from the program, while Josh Sills transferred to Oklahoma State. Those players combined for 86 starts over the course of their respective WVU careers.
But the Mountaineers do return several linemen who boast starting experience. Here’s a breakdown of who will return this fall:
- Redshirt Senior from Wildwood, Missouri
- 6-4, 315 lbs
- With 13 career starts, will be the most experienced offensive lineman on the roster. He started in 10 of his 11 appearances last season and was WVU’s Offensive Lineman of the Week against Kansas.
- Redshirt Sophomore from Bethel Park, Pennsylvania
- 6-3, 301 lbs
- Gmiter has had 10 starts in his WVU career, in which he has appeared in 12 games. He was originally recruited as a defensive tackle but was moved to the offensive line last spring.
- Redshirt Sophomore from Bolivar, Tennessee
- 6-3, 308 lbs
- A player who impressed offensive line coach Matt Moore as a redshirt freshman, making seven starts and seeing time at center.
- Redshirt Senior from Compton, California
- 6-3, 345 lbs
- A big lineman with a big personality, Brown could play a big role in West Virginia’s success this fall. He started in six of his 11 appearances, going 10 of those games without allowing a sack. He was also named WVU’s Offensive Lineman of the Game against Kansas State last season.
- Junior from Carrollton, Texas
- 6-5, 298 lbs
- A tackle who made one start last season, Hughes is poised to see more time on the offensive line this season. He registered a season-high 46 plays last year at Baylor as he added depth on the right side of the line.
Other returners: Zach Davis (G/r-Sr.), Blaine Scott (G/r-So.), Noah Drummond (C/r-So.), Junior Uzebu (T/r-So.), Donavan Beaver (G/r-Fr.), Tyler Connolly (G/r-Fr.), Nick Malone (T/r-Fr.), Parker Moorer (G/r-Fr.), Brandon Yates (T/r-Fr.)
Newcomers: Zach Frazier (Fr./Fairmont, W.Va.), Ja’Quay Hubbard (r-So./Virginia, Sharpsville, Pa.) Tariq Stewart (Fr/Warrensville, Ohio), Chris Mayo (Fr., Deptford, N.J.), Jordan White (Fr./Hyattsville, Md.)
Departures: McKivitz (47 career starts), Sills (24) and Wickline (15)