Big 12 Media Day offers first glimpse of WVU Football’s 2022 depth chart

WVU defensive end Dante Stills makes a play on the quarterback against TCU last season. Stills enters the 2022 season as WVU’s unquestioned leader.

DALLAS, TX — With college football right around the corner, West Virginia Head Football Coach Neal Brown and his staff publicly released the first depth chart for the 2022 season ahead of Big 12 Media Day in Dallas, offering pundits and fans alike a chance to analyze how position battles are shaping up after spring practices. While nothing is set in stone this early on in the season, this depth chart should provide a good idea of who will be seeing the majority of the first-team reps; almost nothing is concrete aside from a few returning stalwarts. Entering year four wearing the headset for the Mountaineers, the pressure is on for Coach Brown and his staff and players to deliver on the field results after several years of victories on the recruiting trail, followed up with lackluster records and a bevy of transfers since his arrival before the 2018 season. With almost all players on the 2022 roster being players he signed, there is no more excuses, it is time to see marked improvement from the WVU football program. 

With fall camp starting this weekend and four weeks until the ever-important season opening Backyard Brawl, a lot is subject to change with the first depth chart of the year. There will be guys rise and fall, with guys who are currently pegged as starters ending up as backups and vice versa. There are also some spots that have an “or” listed at the top meaning that there is going to be serious competition between the two names. For instance, the position battle for the starting right tackle job, the only spot on the WVU offensive line with a question mark, has saw both  Brandon Yates and Ja’Quay Hubbard have moments of brilliance, but neither have been able to consistently perform at a high-enough level to outright win the job quite yet. 

One caveat to keep in mind is that this depth chart was filled out quite a while ago in order for it to be placed in media guides at Big 12 media days and to no surprise, Neal Brown isn’t showing his full hand just yet, especially in terms of the quarterback battle. With that said, it is one of the worst kept secrets in the nation that Georgia transfer JT Daniels will be the quarterback under center for the Mountaineers come time for their week one battle with the hated Pittsburgh Panthers. It is rather safe to assume that Coach Brown did not bring in JT Daniels to not use him and Daniels, one of the most prodigious high school quarterbacks in recent memory, almost certainly didn’t come to Morgantown to not be the starting quarterback either. Despite many clamoring for Garrett Greene last season, during the waning days of the Jarrett Doege era, he hasn’t show much ability in terms of utilizing his arm to make plays. Whether that may be due to a lack of opportunities, lack of trust from the staff, or another unknown reason is up for debate, but his utilization last year certainly offers some insight in how the coaches view him as a player. Incoming freshman Nicco Marchiol is poised for a redshirt year to adjust to the college game before competing for the starting job in 2023. 

At running back, it seems that Tony Mathis Jr. will be the lead back taking over the starting role from Leddie Brown after accumulating less than 100 carries as a Mountaineer. Originally, Coach Brown brought in Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon to replace him, but his time as a Mountaineer ended before even playing a game after entering the transfer portal earlier this month. A solid receiving corp led by Bryce Ford Wheaton, Sam James and Kaden Prather round out the skill positions for the Mountaineers. The starters on the offensive line are pretty much set, aside from the previously mentioned battle at right tackle between Yates and Hubbard. Led by Fairmont native and Remington Award preseason watchlist honoree Zach Frazier, on paper this unit looks to be the strongest and most stable the Mountaineers have fielded during Coach Brown’s tenure in Morgantown.  

The Mountaineer defense has been the heart and soul of the team through four years of the Neal Brown era. The Mountaineers defensive unit has been vastly underrated in recent years, and has the potential to be special this year. Everything for the Mountaineers defense will start with the guys up front this year. A lot of WVU’s prospective success this season largely rests on the shoulders of the guys up front. Led by defensive end and Fairmont native Dante Stills, this unit will have to anchor the Mountaineers defense if they are to make some noise in the Big 12 race. Linebacker is a slight question mark for the Mountaineers, with concerns with depth as well as the bandit 

(outside linebacker) spot. Either Jared Bartlett or Lanell Carr needs to step up and win the job, but neither have distinguished themselves so far. Standouts Lee Kpogba and Lance Dixon man the other two starting linebacker spots to round out the Mountaineers front seven. 

The secondary is the presumable soft spot WVU defense coming into the 2022 season. However, don’t mention this to Charles Woods, who played so well down the backstretch last season that he earned preseason All-Big 12 honors going into this year. Woods will play a key role for Coach Brown’s defense as he follows each team’s primary receiver. With the safeties, CoachBrown seems to be trusting the guys who played in his system last year opposed to transfers. 

The Mountaineers will soon make the trip north to Pittsburgh to play in the first Backyard Brawl in years on Thursday, September 1. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. 

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