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2018 West Virginia Football Position Preview: The Offensive Line

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We’ve got ourselves some road graders up front this season.

NCAA Football: West Virginia vs Virginia Tech
David Sills V celebrates with offensive lineman Colton McKivitz and Yodny Cajuste after scoring a touchdown
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The West Virginia Mountaineers are currently boasting what should be one of the best offensive lines in the Big 12 Conference this season, and what certainly is one of the largest in school history.

When Dana Holgorsen arrived in Morgantown in 2011, the majority of the offensive linemen were of the 6’2”-6’4” variety - save for current Tennessee Titans starter Quinton Spain. Today, Spain’s 6’5”, 348lb frame is the standard for the Mountaineers. Holgorsen and offensive line coach Joe Wickline realized that opposing defensive lines - Oklahoma, specifically - were having their way with the Mountaineer offensive line, and knew right away there was only one way to solve that problem: add the beef.

2018 West Virginia Mountaineer Offensive Linemen

Number Player Height Weight Year Depth
Number Player Height Weight Year Depth
52 Emilio Appolloni 6'7" 328 lbs r-Sophomore Scout
53 Colton McKivitz 6'7" 300 lbs r-Junior 1st Team
54 Eric Sjostedt 6'3" 250 lbs r-Freshman Scout
55 Yodny Cajuste 6'5" 321 lbs r-Senior 1st Team
57 Michael Brown 6'3" 366 lbs r-Junior 2nd Team
58 Joe Brown 6'4" 369 lbs r-Junior 2nd Team
60 Noah Drummond 6'0" 282 lbs Freshman Scout
62 Zach Davis 6'2" 316 lbs r-Sophomore Scout
62 Garret Smyton 6'1" 310 lbs Freshman Scout
65 Isaiah Hardy 6'6" 335 lbs Senior 1st Team
66 Adam Stilley 6'0" 279 lbs r-Freshman Scout
68 Briason Mays 6'3" 302 lbs Freshman Scout
69 Blaine Scott 6'3" 339 lbs Freshman Scout
70 Tyler Thurmond 6'4" 288 lbs r-Freshman Scout
71 Junior Uzebu 6'5" 299 lbs Freshman Scout
72 Kelby Wickline 6'4" 298 lbs r-Junior 2nd Team
73 Josh Sills 6'6" 320 lbs r-Sophomore 1st Team
76 Chase Behrndt 6'4" 306 lbs r-Sophomore 2nd Team
78 Jacob Buccigrossi 6'3" 306 lbs r-Sophomore 1st Team
79 Matt Jones 6'3" 328 lbs r-Junior 2nd Team

The Starters

Tackles

Yodny Cajuste and Colton McKivitz will man the left and right tackle spots, respectively. The duo are the two most experienced guys on the Mountaineer offensive line, which should rate out in the top 3 of the Big 12 Conference this season.

Cajuste, the redshirt senior from Miramar, Florida, nearly declared for the NFL Draft this past winter, but Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineer coaching staff were able to pitch Yodny the opportunity to be a part of something special alongside the also-returning Will Grier and David Sills V. Cajuste was named to the All-Big 12 First Team by Lindy’s, Athlon Sports, Street & Smith’s and Phil Steele.

McKivitz enters the season as an All-Big 12 Second Team player, according to Athlon Sports and Phil Steele. He started 13 games at tackle in 2017, and had a team-leading 14 domination blocks.

Guards

The guard position isn’t as concrete as the tackles, as players battle it out in camp, but it appears Josh Sills and Isaiah Hardy currently hold an edge over Mike and Joe Brown at the moment.

Sills started 10 games for the Mountaineers last season, alternating between the left and right guard position, and led the team with 13 knockdown blocks. He was named All-Big 12 Conference Fourth Team by Phil Steele this year, and is sporting one of the most beautiful mullets I’ve ever seen.

The massive Hardy, another Lackawanna College product, saw action in 12 games in 2017 as a backup to Kyle Bosch. Hardy is down about 15 pounds from where he was last season, but is leaner and stronger than ever and will most likely find himself playing on Sundays in 2019.

Center

In a somewhat shocking turn of events, redshirt sophomore Jacob Buccigrossi has been receiving the first team reps at center over Matt Jones, who started every game in 2017. Buccigrossi was sidelined with an injury last season, but has apparently blown the coaching staff away with his performance in offseason workouts and camp.

The Backups

Tackles

Kelby Wickline and Chase Behrndt are currently listed as the backups behind Cajuste and McKivitz, although if there is any opportunity for one of the scout teamers to make a push for serious playing time, this would be the position.

Wickline played in 13 games in 2017, starting one, mostly adding depth for the Mountaineers. He can play in the left or right tackle spot, which gives his father Joe Wickline a little room to play around with lineups.

Behrndt has switched back-and-forth between the offensive and defensive line in his short time in Morgantown. He saw limited action against East Carolina and Delaware State in 2017 as a guard, but appears to be better suited at the tackle position.

Guards

Incoming junior college transfers Michael and Joe Brown look to have a leg up on the competition for the backup guard spots. Although there was initial concern about their size and them possibly being out of shape, the brothers have impressed the coaching staff by being surprisingly light on their feet for 350+ pounders. If the duo continue to perform the way they are in camp, don’t be surprised if we see them splitting first team reps with Hardy and Sills before the season ends.

Center

Matt Jones will man the backup center role, but stands a great chance at seeing a good chunk of playing time this season. With the Mountaineers having two first-team caliber centers, they’ll be more inclined to rotate them in order to keep them healthy. Jones started 13 games in 2017, and recorded nine knockdown blocks on the season.