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WVU 2023 Offensive Line Preview

As we continue our preseason coverage for the 2023 West Virginia Mountaineers, we offer our WVU 2023 Offensive Line Preview.

As we head into the early part of Fall Camp, we continue our 2023 pre-season coverage of the West Virginia Mountaineers. So far, we have taken a look at quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. Now, we provide our WVU 2023 offensive line preview.

WVU 2023 Offensive Line Preview

When Offensive Line Coach Matt Moore and Head Coach Neal Brown first arrived in Morgantown, they took stock of the team. Of all the position groups, they singled out the offensive line as the one they needed to rebuild from the ground up. They counseled patience, as did we. For the first several years under Brown, we wrote about the difficulties of rehauling an offensive line. The task features challenges unique to the position, as a young offensive lineman typically takes the longest of any position player to develop.

Last year, that patience paid off, as the position group proved to be a real strength for the Mountaineers, offering a highlight in an otherwise dismal season. This year, we anticipate the position group to take another step forward.

Returning Veteran Starters

The starting unit on the offensive line features a healthy balance of upperclassmen with high snap counts and younger players with snap counts still well into the hundreds. We start with junior left tackle Wyatt Milum. He played in 24 games, starting 20, over the last two seasons. Over the course of last year, he really grew into his own. At six feet, six inches, and 317 pounds, he certainly offers the right combination of size for the position. He really improved his technique and explosiveness over the course of the 2022 season. We expect him to take that next step into first-team All-Conference territory this season.

In-State Stars

Fellow in-state prodigy Doug Nester anchors the line at the opposite tackle spot for his fifth season of college football. Nester brings the most experience, by far, to the unit, as he counts 41 starts headings into the season. With a snap count of over 2,500, Nester brings that experience back to the unit. The steadying force offers plenty to the position.

In the middle of the line, the Mountaineers feature Zach Frazier, the third of the in-state stars to comprise WVU’s 2023 offensive line. Frazier accumulated 34 starts over his last three seasons, giving him a snap count of over 2,000 as well. In his freshman season, Frazier hit the ground running showing early promise and uncharacteristic poise for a young player at center. After he signed his letter of intent, both Brown and Moore talked up Frazier’s state championship-level wrestling prowess as a reason he would help rebuild the line. His combination of balance and strength has done just that.

The Guard Spots

Finally, for our WVU 2023 offensive line preview for the starters, we look at the two guard spots. Redshirt sophomore Tomas Rimac stands in at left guard, having seen a break-out season in 2022. Rimac came to Morgantown as a seemingly-underrated offensive line prospect about whom the staff was excited. Displaying a mean streak towards the middle of last season, he grabbed the reigns of the starting spot and never looked back. Opposite Rimac, Brandon Yates and Ja’Quay Hubbard battle for the final spot. Last season, those two duked it out, going back and forth on starting duties. We anticipate that battle to continue. Both, however, return plenty of experience, as both are redshirt juniors with double-digit starts.

Promising Young Reserves

Beyond those six, the Mountaineers feature a long list of promising young bodies. The oldest backup is former walk-on Nick Malone, a redshirt junior who has played in 27 games in his Mountaineer career. Malone will be relied on heavily to spell the starters. Otherwise, West Virginia has four redshirt freshmen and three freshmen. We expect the staff to prioritize giving some meaningful snaps to the young talent. While the experience could not completely offset the anticipated losses of at least Frazier and Nester after the 2023 season concludes, a failure to acclimate the young backups to the speed and strength of the game in 2023 could handicap West Virginia in the coming seasons.

The staff knows this, and we would anticipate, at the very least, seeing Maurice Hamilton, Charlie Katarincic, and Sully Weidman play at least a handful of snaps in most games this season. Those early peaks in the future will certainly guide the staff’s efforts through recruiting and in the transfer market.

That said, true freshmen, Johnny Williams, Nick Krahe, and Cooper Young come to Morgantown as highly-respected and promising offensive line recruits. Williams even finds his way onto the two-deep already, as Nester’s backup at right tackle.

 

Photo courtesy: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

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