MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Consistency. That’s what defensive line coach Andrew Jackson has seen from his group this spring.
Dante Stills and Taijh Alston are leading the Mountaineers in the trenches, but there have been a number of players that have caught Jackson’s attention over 12 practices.
“There’s always the flash plays from Dante and Taijh, but Jordan Jefferson is coming along, Sean Martin, Zeiqui Lawton, Taurus Simmons,” Jackson said. “When I get those guys in there, there’s really no change in what’s going on on the field. You can’t notice the second unit is in there.”
Two of those young players he mentioned are homegrown players. Martin, a Bluefield native, is entering his third season with the program, while Lawton, who hails from Charleston, transferred to WVU after redshirting last year at Cincinnati.
Jackson expects Martin to play at every position except nose guard. He saw action in all 13 games last season and was used on 212 defensive snaps.
“He will eventually be an every-down guy. You won’t notice a difference when Sean is out there with Dante or Jordan or giving Taijh a blow,” Jackson said of the redshirt sophomore. “I think he can be in every package. He can line up on the edge and play, play some of the three-technique. He’s been more than a pleasant surprise. He’s growing into what we all thought he could be.”
Martin is 6’5″ and weighs in at 279 pounds, while Lawton is listed at 6’1″ and 262 pounds. His position coach anticipates that number increasing by the time fall camp rolls around.
“He needs to get a little bigger, but he hasn’t really had a real offseason yet. He went to college when Covid and quarantine kind of started, so this is really his first true cycle in the weight room in college,” Jackson said.
Now, how much bigger can Lawton get while still being able to play comfortably? Jackson said that answer is up to strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph.
“As long as he has that quickness, I don’t mind how big he gets,” he said.
Quickness is what Jackson believes is Lawton’s best attribute right now. He’s also been impressed with his knowledge of the game.
If you want to find an example of a player who eats, sleeps, and breathes football, sounds like Lawton is your guy. Jackson described him as a true football player.
“Zeiqui Lawton has been a pleasant surprise. I think guys forget he’s only been in college one semester before coming here,” Jackson said. “He’s giving us a nice little spark plug, and again, I love coaching West Virginia kids like I’ve said before. He’s got a different mindset because this is home for him.”