Defensive Tackle: Will Clarke (6-foot-6, 270 pounds; Junior)
If anyone on this roster is physically imposing and intimidating, it’s Will Clarke. When the guy walks around other players, he looks huge. Clarke is poised for a big season, after spending the last two in the shadows of Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller. And it isn’t that Clarke will replace their production, because he’s not the explosive speed rusher that Irvin was, but he will provide consistency along that defensive line. He plays the run on an every down basis.
In a relatively young group, Clarke has really jumped on the scene as the face of the defense. If he can provide leadership as well as improve upon last season’s stats 34 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks, then West Virginia’s defense will be good.
Nose Tackle: Jorge Wright (6-foot-2, 289 pounds; Senior)
Having played in the middle of a three man since his career began at West Virginia, the transition into the 3-4 scheme should be seamless for Jorge Wright. The only differences is where he’ll lineup, he maybe shaded on the center, instead of primarily being used head up. Wright should be able to provide that job of eating up blocks.
If he can take up space by taking on double teams and keeping offensive linemen off of linebackers Jared Barber and Doug Rigg, then the coaching staff and team will get out him, what he needs to do. He’s never going to shine in a box score, really no defensive tackles or nose tackles do anyway, but he will play an important role.
Defensive End: Tyler Anderson (6-foot-2, 245 pounds; Junior)
The transition from strong side linebacker to defensive end during the spring, Anderson seems to fit the type of pass rusher, Joe DeForest is looking for. The former walk on, Anderson has put himself in the starting lineup. It’ll be interesting to see once Anderson gets into game action if he can withstand the beating of playing defensive end. Anderson is certainly undersize and isn’t going to scare anyone, but he’s tough.
Having been the 2009 WVU scout team player of the year, he has worked his way from the bottom to the starting lineup. Anderson should be a force for West Virginia, especially in pass rushing situations.
ON THE TWO-DEEP
Defensive Tackle: J.B. Lageman (6-foot-3, 272 pounds; Senior)
A senior that hasn’t seen a ton of game action, Lageman is expected to really help this team in 2012. Moving to the Big 12 means WVU is going to have to get more players on the field in order to keep bodies fresh. Lageman is a senior with four years of college football under his belt, so at least when WVU puts him on the field, he’ll be smart and he’ll play mistake free football.
Nose Tackle: Imarjaye Albury (6-foot, 289 pounds; Freshman)
The true freshman, Albury turned heads during West Virginia’s spring practice earning him a spot as a rotational player. Albury is stout and can eat up blocks on the inside. Now, Albury will play probably more than people think. The Miami Northwestern product will be able to give the Mountaineers an extra body to get on the field.
Nose Tackle: Shaq Rowell (6-foot-4, 300 pounds; Junior)
The heaviest man in the group has to be a force, especially when WVU takes on a Texas or an Iowa State that run the ball as much as Oklahoma State and Texas Tech throw the ball. Rowell has to be more than a space eater and make opponents fear him in the backfield. If there is one guy in this group that could have a breakout 2012, its Rowell.
Defensive End: Dozie Ezemma (6-foot-2, 221 pounds; Junior)
This is a real interesting guy that has a lot to prove. Transferring from New Haven following the 2010 season, Ezemma redshirted his first year at WVU. While at New Haven he had 26 tackles in 2010. Ezemma could be an x-factor for WVU, if he brings speed of the edge. Really undersized, at just 221 pounds, Ezemma will be in the rotation for virtually obvious passing situations. In the Big 12, it is all about getting to the quarterback.