Mountaineers’ Left Tackle Anchors Front Line
Decision was easy for West Virginia’s Cajuste
MORGANTOWN – When Will Grier and David Sills V added their names to those underclassmen who would test the National Football League’s draft waters following West Virginia’s 7-6 campaign in 2017, it took senior-to-be Yodny Cajuste little time to place his name alongside his two more-noted teammates.
The Mountaineers’ massive left tackle needed less time to ink his name to those returning to Morgantown in 2018 when Grier and Sills V made it known they would be back for one more run at a Big 12 crown.
“I didn’t have to think about it (the decision) too long,” chuckled Cajuste. “Once I heard that Will (Grier) and David (Sills V) were coming back I knew that we could be part of something special this season and I wanted to be part of it.”
And, like Grier and Sills V, Cajuste’s decision has led to the Miami, Florida native’s name appearing on just about every preseason honor list in print.
Lindy’s, Athlon Sports, Street & Smith’s and Phil Steele has the 300-pounder inked in as one of their preseason All Big 12 performers while Lindy’s lists the former-Miramar High School standout as No. 3 (out of 10) NFL Talent while Phil Steele has the Mountaineers’ left tackle as the No. 23 national offensive tackle on its list of Top Draft Eligible Players.
“They’re just lists,” Cajuste quickly responded. “They don’t make difference right now. Really, the only lists that mean anything are the ones at the end of the season. If I’m on those at the end, then they will mean something to me.”
For now, the only thing that means anything 6-foot, 5-inch blocking machine is protecting the blind side of his Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Grier.
“I want to be there for Will and the rest of the guys,” added Cajuste. “We (the offensive line) all want to prove to people that the end of last year didn’t show people what we are really capable of being.”
Like WVU’s signal-caller, Cajuste has had to deal with injuries which cost him major playing time during his tenure with the Old Gold and Blue. After starting six of the seven games in which he appeared in during the 2015 season, Cajuste found himself relegated to the sideline after the Mountaineers’ first offensive drive in the 2016 season opener against Missouri.
“No one likes to watch from the sidelines. It was tough, but my coaches and teammates helped me work my way through it and it made me a better player last year.
Better, but not indestructible as a leg injury suffered just days before WVU’s Heart of Dallas Bowl showdown with PAC 12 member Utah forced him to miss the game.
“We had a great week of practice leading up to that game (Utah) and I thought we had a really solid game plan even though we still didn’t have Will. Then, I came up hurt and had to watch from the sideline and it was very, very disappointing.”
But, that was in the past and Cajuste is looking toward a future which has him and junior-to-be Colton McKivitz lining up at the tackles with senior Isaiah Hardy and redshirt sophomore Josh Sills inked in at the guards and redshirt junior Matt Jones back at center.
“This will be one of the most experienced lines I’ve played on,” continued Cajuste. “And, I think we have the guys behind us that will allow us to get the breaks you need to keep our offense moving at the pace the coaches want.”
Some of those expected to see plenty of playing time are Chase Behrndt, Jacob Buccigrossi, Kelby Wickline and transfers Joe and Mike Brown.