There’s no denying Karl Joseph caused plenty of chaos in a No. 8 jersey during his time as a Mountaineer.

Growing up, Lee Kpogba watched Joseph terrorize opponents in the Old Gold and Blue. It inspired him to not only want to play at WVU, but wear the same number while doing so.

Last season, Kpogba achieved both of those things as he took on the role of quarterback of the defense at the Mike linebacker position. He finished as the team’s leading tackler (92) in his debut season.

“I knew that the Mike position in the defense is usually the leading tackler in that system, so I wasn’t surprised by that. I knew that with my work ethic and effort, that I could get a lot of tackles. I kind of embraced it,” Kpogba said. “I like being the guy everyone looks at to make a play.”

As he enters his second year in the program, Kpogba has the same mindset. But this go around, it’s his number that will be different.

“Being able to wear No. 8 for West Virginia was fun. Being able to ball out in it. I feel like so many people wear No. 8 on defense so I wanted to change it up,” Kpogba said. “I changed to No. 1 and trying to leave a new mark.”

Kpogba wore No. 1 during his time at East Mississippi Community College. That’s the number he truly wanted when he arrived at WVU ahead of the 2022 season. However, that number was already taken and, even though that player did transfer before the season, it was too late for Kpogba to change jerseys.

When a new crop of Mountaineers came in this offseason, he knew it was his opportunity to take over the number he really wanted. Kpogba said a lot of defenders typically wear No. 8, and by changing to the No. 1, it’s his chance to set himself apart.

“We had a lot of new guys come in and not a lot of single digit numbers available,” Kpogba said. “So I said ‘OK, I’ll give up No. 8’.”

After paying homage to Joseph for a season, Kpogba is ready to write his own chapter in WVU’s book of elite defenders.