MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Outside of quarterback, weak side linebacker might be the most pressing position battle for WVU football this fall.
At least, that’s the case for WVU head coach Neal Brown.
“If you were going to ask me, “Defensively, what’s the position you’re most intrigued by? Who’s going to step up?’ It’s at that will linebacker spot,” Brown said. “We’ve got some candidates, but a lot of them haven’t played.”
Unlike middle linebacker where veteran Lee Kpogba is the certified starter, the top will-linebacker spot on the depth chart is wide open. Exree Loe and Jasir Cox – last year’s duo at the position – departed after the season following their expired eligibility.
“What I’m really wanting to see is those guys that played for us last year, but they were in lesser roles, or maybe they were really young, I want to see how big [of] a jump those guys are going to make,” Brown said.
The preseason depth chart lists redshirt sophomore Jairo Faverus and redshirt freshman Trey Lathan as cohabitants of the starting will linebacker spot, and true freshman Ben Cutter rounds out the two-deep at the position.
Those three players have a just 10 combined career collegiate tackles.
“I think Trey Lathan is a guy right now that is showing some big improvements,” defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley said. “Again, [he is] a young player. You look at that will linebacker position, [that is] probably where we’ll need him to make an impact.”
Lathan took a redshirt year in 2022 as a freshman, but he logged six total tackles in the process in four appearances. He added four pounds year-over-year, and he was also the highest-rated recruit out of all the will linebackers on the WVU roster.
Faverus, the former defensive back from the United Kingdom, saw his usage increase marginally in 2022 as a redshirt freshman, and he mostly appeared on special teams. In three years as a linebacker, he has continuously grown in stature each season.
“That’s what is going to make our football team,” Brown said. “Those guys that make a jump from [where they were] a year ago.”
Cutter is a three-star freshman addition from Denver, North Carolina. He is the No. 148 linebacker in 247Sports’ Class of 2023, and he is the No. 37 recruit out of North Carolina.
WVU will not start practicing in full pads until next week. Until then, the will linebacker position will remain mysterious.