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Mountaineers’ O-Line Has A High Ceiling

North Carolina linebacker Chazz Surratt (21) runs a play against Virginia Tech offensive lineman Doug Nester (74) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

In 2019, offensive line coach Matt Moore walked into a position room that was fairly bare.

Outside of future NFL-er Colton McKivitz at left tackle, the group lacked true difference-makers up front. There weren’t many players to turn to anywhere on the offensive line anyway, making it much harder to run an effective unit.

Now, entering his third season with West Virginia, Moore says the group is nearing where he wants it to be.

“I’m really excited about this group,” Moore said.

“I think we’ve got the highest ceiling we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’re not there yet, we’re a little bit up and down — sometimes we look really, really good and sometimes we don’t look as good.

“We had some protection issues out there today that we’ve got to clean up, but I’m really excited just about the group, the effort we’re playing with, the physicality we’re playing with [and] our communication’s gotten way better.”

The primary difference on the offensive line between this fall’s squad and the one that Neal Brown and his staff inherited from Dana Holgorsen is depth, something that has been severely lacking since Moore stepped on campus.

Since coming to WVU in January 2019, the coaching staff has hit the recruiting trail hard — and it has paid off.

The group that came to campus as part of the class of 2020 brought four linemen to campus, including Fairmont native and current starting center Zach Frazier. Among those other additions was Jordan White, a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder who has impressed this fall with his versatility.

“I see him as a three-fold guy,” Moore said. “Center is coming along where he’s getting better — he’s getting way better. He can play left guard, right guard or center […] I’ve really tried to make that inside group where we’ve got several guys that can switch around and play some other positions.”

This offseason alone, the Mountaineers added two who hail from inside the state: Wyatt Milum, a freshman from Spring Valley High School in Huntington, and Doug Nester, a Virginia Tech transfer who attended the same high school.

Milum is currently competing with redshirt sophomore Parker Moorer to start at right tackle, a battle that Moore called a “dogfight.”

“Wyatt’s come in and done a really good job with being ready to play and knowing the offense and just playing with outstanding effort,” Moore said. “Parker has made himself way better over the past year, and competition will do it. That’s what it’s all about.”

Moore said Monday that he feels good about seven guys that can play, but that others have been putting in strong effort. He thinks he’ll be able to have 10 guys that he can turn to up front at some point this year, what he called “that elusive two-deep that I’ve been chasing for the past two years.”

“It’s the first year I’ve really had a true ‘Hey, somebody is pushing somebody’ instead of just having five guys to try and figure out,” Moore said. “I think the competition has really been a difference over the summer. [We] had a really good summer and, going into camp, it’s made a difference. It means something to be in the starting five and it means something to be an O-lineman here.”

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