MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s no surprise that WVU’s defensive production usually runs through its mike linebacker. With the loss of a few starters on the defensive line, that position will be counted on even more this upcoming season.
Luckily for the Mountaineers, Lee Kpogba will lock down that spot for the second straight season and he’ll be accompanied by one of the most experienced players at the bandit position in Jared Bartlett.
Also good news for the program, it only lost a pair of key members at linebacker, Exree Loe and Lance Dixon. Dixon is still on the WVU roster but is officially listed at spear position.
Our roster review series continues with a look at West Virginia’s linebackers/bandits:
Senior Lee Kpogba
The transfer from East Mississippi Community College shined in his debut season as a Mountaineer. Kpogba started every game at mike linebacker and finished with a team-high 92 tackles. He also added 3.5 sacks, 5.5 TFLs, six quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
He finished the year ranked No. 8 in the Big 12 in total tackles.
Kpogba shined from the start. He led the team with 10 tackles in the season opener. He had back-to-back games with 13 tackles to end the year, marking a new career-high.
Bandit – Redshirt junior Jared Bartlett
The back-to-back Iron Mountaineer Award winner is the most veteran player on the defense. He’s WVU’s active leader in career games played with 37. Bartlett finished third on the team last season in quarterback hurries with three. He tallied 26 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2.5 TFLs.
Bartlett’s best season in terms of stats came in 2021. He finished with 31 tackles, six TFLs, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Freshman Josiah Trotter
Trotter was one of the top members of WVU’s 2023 signing class. He was tabbed as someone who could make an early impact, but unfortunately, he could miss the upcoming season.
The son of former NFL star Jeremiah Trotter enrolled early in order to join WVU for the spring season. He sustained a leg injury in the first week of April and had surgery.
Head coach Neal Brown said Trotter is expected to miss an extended period of time, and could potentially miss the 2023 regular season.
“He practiced enough to know he’s gonna be a star,” Brown said in the spring.
Junior Tyrin Bradley
The Abilene Christian transfer originally committed to WVU as a defensive end. He is now listed as a linebacker on the roster. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound pass rusher appeared in 18 games over the past two years with the Wildcats.
Last season, he earned first-team all-conference honors with 49 tackles, 10 TFLs and four sacks. The Lubbock native has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Rounding out the depth chart
- Junior Tirek Austin-Cave
- Sophomore Taurus Simmons (BAN)
- Redshirt sophomore Jairo Faverus
- Redshirt sophomore Caden Biser
- Redshirt freshman Trey Lathan
- Redshirt freshman Donald Brandel
- Freshman James Heard Jr. (BAN)
- Freshman Ben Cutter
Exree Loe – the Johnstown, Pennsylvania native spent six seasons with the program. In 53 career games, he amassed 178 total tackles, 10.5 TFLs, one sack, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Check out some of our previous roster reviews:
- Head coach and offensive assistants
- Running backs
- Wide receivers
- Tight ends and fullbacks
- Offensive line
- Defensive assistants
- Defensive line
Visit GoldAndBlueNation.com for daily roster analysis over the next several weeks. All stories can also be viewed on the free Gold and Blue Nation app, which is available for download on Apple and Android devices.