First-Year Players Make Impact for WVU

Eight make initial starts

Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano (2) loses the ball as he is hit by West Virginia's Kenny Bigelow Jr. (40) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. The play was ruled an incomplete pass. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

MORGANTOWN — When No. 14 West Virginia (1-0) took to the field at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., eight players saw their dream of starting for the Mountaineers come to fruition.

Among those who helped open the 2018 season with a 40-14 victory over Tennessee were a pair of redshirt seniors — Trevon Wesco and Kenny Bigelow Jr.

“Of course, it makes everybody excited,” Wesco said. “Everybody wants to get a piece of the pie. Everybody pretty much did, and it’s good for our team.”

It’s even more special when you call the Mountain State home.

“That’s a good thing,” Wesco said. “We all look forward to it. It’s a dream come true for all of them. When you’re born and raised here, it’s just different. This is all I know is blue and gold. It’s special.”

Bigelow’s journey to Morgantown was a bit different.

Originally recruited to play at Southern Cal, the Wilmington, Del., native elected to finish his career at West Virginia following a 2017 campaign with the Trojans which witnessed the 300-pounder see action in only six games before suffering a season-ending injury.

“It was a mutual thing, on both sides,” Bigelow said. “I was working out with a high school teammate when I was home and I sent some video down. I got to talking with some guys. I came down and visited during the spring and fell in love with it.”

And, Mountaineers fans fell in love with their newest nose tackle.

“It was great,” Bigelow said when asked about his first career start. “I was very excited to be out there with all of those guys.”

Now, the five-star high school recruit is using what he learned during his four seasons at USC to help a pair of West Virginia natives — sophomore Darius Stills and his brother, freshman Dante Stills.

“They’re great. They’re talented, talented, talented guys. They’re young, and they have to remain coachable, remain humble and believe and trust in the process.

“I try my best to help whenever I can. I see the talent in those guys. I see the potential in them. I see a lot of my younger self in both of them — the good and the bad. Whenever I see something, I make sure to say the things that I wished somebody would’ve said to me. I just try to encourage and talk to them when I can.”

In other game news:

∫ The game will be televised on AT&T SportNet (Channel 38 on Suddenlink) with Rob King providing the play-by-play, former Mountaineers quarterback Rasheed Marshall handling the analyst’s job and former women’s basketball standout Meg Bulger roaming the sidelines.

∫ Prior to the start of the game members of the 1988 undefeated West Virginia squad which lost to the University of Notre Dame in the national championship game will be honored.

“I’m looking forward to the game,” Holgorsen said. “We’re celebrating the ’88 team — that brought back some memories thinking about that. I’ve met a lot of those guys, obviously, over the course of the last eight years coming back. That’s when I graduated high school, so I guess my 30th reunion is coming up.

“That in itself is disturbing to me. I remember wearing a West Virginia sweatshirt my senior year in high school, and it was because of that ’88 team. They were undefeated, and obviously Major Harris, Coach Don Nehlen and all of those guys I admired from afar. Here we are 30 years later with me behind this podium, and we’re celebrating the ’88 team this weekend as well. It should be another great weekend; last weekend was a great weekend to be a Mountaineer and a Mountaineer fan, and I expect nothing different this weekend.”

∫ West Virginia holds and all-time record of 97-20-6 in home openers, including 7-0 in home openers under Holgorsen. The Mountaineers hold a 2-0 series edge over YSU.


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