The summer has arrived, and soon enough, so will West Virginia’s 2022 football season opener against Pitt at Heinz Field on Sept. 1.
A long time has passed since the Mountaineers last took the field in an official competition, so it is important to get up to speed on who will suit up for the Old Gold and Blue this season. Take a look at Gold and Blue Nation’s full Roster Review series right here:
Neal Brown enters his fourth year at the helm of WVU football, and the Mountaineer offense will continue abiding by its air raid principles in 2022. The staff did make a major change with Graham Harrell as the team’s offensive coordinator, and he hopes to inject some explosiveness into the scheme.
Jordan Lesley has been on staff since Brown took over in 2019, but for the second straight year, he is in control of the defense. The Mountaineers have been among the nation’s best on that side of the ball over the last two seasons; can they keep that going in 2022?
WVU’s 2021 spring football season showcased a tight battle between three young quarterbacks for the shot at the starting gig in the fall. All three seemed to perform well in the Gold-Blue Spring Game in April, but everything changed once JT Daniels stepped on campus. Is Daniels a shoo-in for the starting job, or will one of the returners get the nod?
The departure of back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Leddie Brown is a loss for the Mountaineers, but they are confident they have the talent to lessen the sting. Tony Mathis Jr. is poised to be the feature back, but the addition of “home run hitter” Lyn-J Dixon and the return of some young talents could be enough to lay a foundation on the ground.
Three of WVU’s top five receivers hit the transfer portal during the offseason, but veterans Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Sam James will return for another season to lead the group. So will several other youngsters who could be primed for breakout campaigns this fall.
Brown and his staff haven’t been keen on using tight ends in WVU’s offense over the last three seasons. In 2022, though, they are looking to bring them in more as part of the ground game. Plus, they get their top tight end, Mike O’Laughlin, back for his redshirt senior season.
With just one minor change, WVU’s offensive line can pick up right where it left off in 2021 as all five starters return for another season. The unit aims to rejuvenate itself in 2022 with a new offensive coordinator and some added depth.
Depth will be the operative word in 2022 for West Virginia’s defensive line. It’s a group with a good mix of veteran experience with some fresh faces. Dante Stills can continue moving up some impressive all-time lists on the WVU record book, while a few other West Virginia natives could play key roles in the rotation for the unit.
In the fall, the linebacking corps will look different than it did in 2021. The expectations are still high for that unit, and it will be led by one of the top newcomers on the roster this season, the energetic Lee Kpogba.
Charles Woods leads a group of mostly unfamiliar faces as WVU’s last line of defense. There is plenty of Division I experience in that room, however, and it’s mixed with some of Neal Brown’s more highly-touted signings as the Mountaineer head coach.
Games are won and lost in the third phase, and WVU has plenty of legs to lead the way in 2022.
Be sure to check back at GoldAndBlueNation.com as we work through the entire WVU football program.