MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Akheem Mesidor entering the transfer portal on Thursday was a surprise to Neal Brown and the WVU football program.

With Mesidor on the roster, the defensive line, and front seven as a whole, was considered the strength of this West Virginia team. It, along with the offensive line, are the two most-experienced position groups for West Virginia.

While the defensive front will remain a strength of the Mountaineers’ without the junior defensive lineman, he does leave a hole on the depth chart that Brown and company were not expecting to have to fill this spring.

That doesn’t mean, though, that WVU is unprepared.

“I think we got bodies there,” said Brown. “The numbers there are fine, we just got to make sure that those guys continue to raise their game.”

Brown reiterated on Saturday that Mesidor’s decision “hurt” him.

However, Brown also stated that Mesidor was not practicing this spring. That was giving players further down on the depth chart to get reps in practice.

Asked if West Virginia was going to hit the portal to look for a transfer to fill Mesidor’s spot, Brown said, “I think it’s too early to tell. I’ll be able to tell you after 15 practices.”

What does Brown mean by that?

Transfer redshirt freshman Zeiqui Lawton, he said, is getting a lot of reps on the line. While not active at the moment, the hope is that sophomore Edward Vesterinen will be able to participate in drills towards the end of the spring.

Jalen Thornton and Jordan Jefferson give the Mountaineers flexibility at their positions, according to the head coach.

Unproven players, such as redshirt sophomores Taurus Simmons and Sean Martin, will get more opportunities to prove themselves, as well.

“I don’t think it’s a must where we have to go out and get an interior [lineman], or a D-lineman, period,” Brown added. “I think it’s a ‘wait and see’ on it.”

The fourth-year Mountaineer head coach said he self-evaluated after Mesidor informed the program of his intentions.

He doesn’t see anything resembling a “culture problem” within the program, and believes there will continue to be more positive success stories based on the coaching staff’s philosophy.