Coaching Staff Review: Defense | WTRF
# 1 in total defense among Power 5 schools and # 1 nationally in passing yards allowed – that’s how West Virginia ended the 2020 season. In the Big 12 Conference, he finished in # 1 in points defense, total defense and pass defense. He ranked No.4 in the league in ground defense.
The defensive coaching staff welcomed new faces in 2021. Coaching assignments have seen a slight change with the new additions.
âI am pleased to announce the assignments of defensive staff, including Jordan Lesley, as coordinator,â said head coach Neal Brown in February. âThe staff did a great job training and teaching last year, and our defense has been a big part of our team’s success.
As we complete our round of 2021 roster reviews, let’s take a look at West Virginia defensive coaches.
Jordan Lesley – Defensive Coordinator / Outside Linebackers
Lesley has been with the program since Neal Brown joined in 2019 and previously served as the defensive line coach. In his first season as a d-line coach, WVU finished 25th nationally in sacks and 35th in tackles for loss. The Stills brothers, Darius and Dante, have finished tied for second in the Big 12 in sacks this season. Darius also ranked No. 5 in the league in the TFL while Dante was No. 10.
In 2020, Dante finished 10th in the league in TFL and Akheem Mesidor placed 9th in sacks in his first season with the program. Darius Stills was named the Big 12’s co-defensive lineman of the year and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders.
In the 2021 class, Lesley recruited defensive linemen Brayden Dudley, Hammond Russel and Edward Vesterinen. Russel was ranked No. 80 defensive end domestically and No. 23 prospect in Ohio by ESPN, while Vesterinen is Finland’s top rookie.
ShaDon Brown – Defensive Co-Coordinator / Defensive Backs
Brown is the most recent coach of the Mountaineer team. He joined the program in February 2021 after spending the last two seasons as a safety coach at Louisville.
“He’s my guy,” junior CB Nicktroy Fortune said of his new coaching role. âAt first I was a little unsure. I didn’t really know him and he didn’t really know me, but over time I realized how cool he was. He’s never really serious unless he’s dragging us into something we’ve screwed up.
Last season, the Cardinals high school team led the CCA in passing defense and placed 17th nationally in that category, allowing 189.2 yards per game. The unit also ranked 3rd in the league in points defense, total defense and passing efficiency.
Review of the list: cornerbacks
Andrew Jackson – defensive line
Jackson joined the defensive staff in January 2021. He comes to Morgantown after spending last season as a defensive line coach and defensive recruiting coordinator at Old Dominion. In 2019, he visited Milan Puskar Stadium with James Madison for the season opener. In his only season at JMU, the program led the FCS in total defense and was No. 3 in defensive scoring.
âHe’s definitely a great coach and I like him a lot. Since it is new, the d-line has to break it into our program and our personalities. I’m glad he’s on board, âsaid Dante Stills of his new coaching role this spring. “He’s very focused on running towards football, being active all the time, never stopping his feet, stuff like that.”
Roster Review: defensive line
Jeff Koonz – Special Teams Coordinator / Inside Linebackers
Koonz is in his second season at his current post. In 2020, MIKE starting linebacker Tony Fields finished No.1 in the Big 12 Conference in total tackles (88) and was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Fields also finished with four TFLs, one sack, one interception and four QB rushes and was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year. His colleague LB Josh Chandler-Semedo finished 7th in the conference in total tackles with 64.
When it comes to special teams, the Mountaineers finished atop the Big 12 in kickoffs, No. 2 in PAT, with a perfect 29 of 29 and No. 4 in punt.
Koonz helped recruit Ja’Corey Hammett as part of the 2021 class. He was listed at No.29 in his position by Rivals.
List review: linebackers
List review: specialists
Donate Wright – Securities
He is also in his second season with the program. Redshirt senior safety Alonzo Addae finished No. 2 on the team overall with 66 tackles. Former defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae credited Wright for improving Alonzo’s game last season. Addae also finished tied for top of the team with two interceptions and finished No.2 in breakouts with five overall.
Wright’s bedroom returns two entries from a year ago, Addae and Sean Mahone. Mahone started all 10 games last season and totaled 54 tackles, two TFLs, one interception and four SEBs. Spear Tykee Smith was tied with Addae for two interceptions, a team-high, last year and also for number 2 in breakouts with five. He was the fourth-best tackle, finishing with 61 overall to accompany eight TFLs.
He helped recruit Aubrey Burks and Davis Mallinger as part of the 2021 promotion. Burks was ranked 53rd best security in the country by ESPN, while Mallinger was rated three stars by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports.
Review of the list: safeties