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WVU Offensive Line Moving Forward

wvu offensive line moving forward

We continue our Spring position preview for the West Virginia Mountaineers by looking at the WVU Offensive Line. The room loses two veteran players in Zach Frazier and Doug Nester. As a result, we look in at a WVU offensive line moving forward from those losses.

WVU Offensive Line Moving Forward

In his media remarks on April 5, Head Coach Neal Brown addressed this question head-on. He said the team will miss Frazier and Nester. Asked whether the line can still be a top unit on the roster, Brown answered that “it needs to … in order for us have success.” The bad here, of course, is that Frazier was the team’s vocal leader. He is a borderline first-round talent. Mock drafts continue to hedge on whether he slots in the late first round or early or middle of the second. Nester was also very good the last several years. Brown said that Wyatt Milum heads into 2024 as the team’s best offensive lineman and needs to take a step forward to lead the unit.

In the team’s first padded practice, Brown noted that, because the defensive line had been practicing against Frazier the last few years, they “lost a lot more than they won” in first-team battles. To start this Spring, Brown said the defensive line won the battles soundly. That may be a discouraging first step, but Brown noted that the defensive line was “ready to return the favor” for getting beat up by the unit when Frazier led it. That give-and-take process will play itself out, as the offensive line, which certainly features plenty of veterans, will look to return the favor under new leadership.

WVU Offensive Line: A Veteran Unit

With junior Tomas Rimac out this Spring, the first-team unit features four seniors and a sophomore. From left to right, the first team likely features Milum, Sully Weidman, Brandon Yates, Ja’Quay Hubbard, and Nick Malone. Other than Weidman, each of those players has plenty of experience in the Old Gold and Blue. Milum and Yates each bring an accumulation of over 2,000 snaps to the unit. Hubbard and Malone are approaching 1,000 each. Weidman is the “odd” man out here with just 52 live snaps. Rimac’s return in the Fall will help here, but Offensive Line Coach Matt Moore certainly appreciates the opportunity to allow his younger players to take that next step forward in their development. Weidman should certainly benefit from the experience.

That said, we have said here at Last Word on College Football plenty of times that the toughest unit to develop on any football roster is the offensive line. There are certainly exceptions, but the vast majority of offensive line recruits simply are not ready to see game action as a true freshman. Even redshirt freshmen, by and large, have trouble in that first-game action. Experience, in other words, matters, even if that experience has to replace some elite talent. The name of the game in college football, of course, is “next man up.” It is the nature of limited eligibility. Every player is capped at four years and up to four games in another year. Attrition happens. Players who previously held spot-start roles or played at different spots on an offensive line will rotate and step up. That will need to start happening this Spring for the Mountaineers to enjoy success in 2024.

How Does the Depth Look?

Brown and Moore both observed in comments to the media that some of their young linemen are taking the opportunities they have this Spring to show they are ready to contribute. That list includes players like Johnny Williams, Landen Livingston, Maurice Hamilton, Nick Krahe, and transfer Xavier Bausley. The development of the players on that list will certainly prove critical to the Mountaineers in 2024 and beyond. Indeed, one of the seeming frustrations from the coaching staff particularly from 2019 through 2022 was the lack of depth in this position group. Too many times the staff could only count to six of seven in terms of players they felt comfortable relying on in-game situations. Keeping that number closer to nine or ten means the team will much better navigate injuries and attrition. After all, the benefit of having a veteran line must always be countenanced with the ability to move forward once those veterans’ eligibility expires. This matters as much to the WVU offensive line moving forward as does the veterans stepping up into leadership roles.


wvu offensive line moving forward
Photo courtesy: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports


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