MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen shuffled his defensive staff Wednesday, hiring former Mountaineers linebacker Damon Cogdell to replace defensive line coach Erik Slaughter.

Though Cogdell played a big role for the WVU defense in 1997 and 1998, he has remained invaluable to the program as a coach at Miramar (Fla.) High School the past 12 years—the program that produced WVU quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Stedman Bailey. Cogdell sent other players to West Virginia, including current receiver Devonte Mathis and former players Ivan McCartney and Josh Taylor.

Cogdell’s impact could be felt in the coming weeks as West Virginia attempts to sign two Miramar recruits listed among Rivals’ national top-250—cornerback Tyrek Cole (No. 41) and safety Kendrell McFadden (No. 236).

The Mountaineers received a commitment Wednesday from Miramar three-star receiver Kahlil Lewis.

Recruiting analysts said Cogdell’s reach could only expand throughout South Florida now that he is firmly associated with WVU.

“He didn’t necessarily push his kids to WVU,” said Rivals senior writer Keenan Cummings of “Just look at the big-time recruits that signed elsewhere. But he is very well known down there.”

Cogdell called his return to WVU “a breath of fresh air” in a statement released by the university.

“Being here on the coaching staff is a dream come true,” he said. “I had a great experience as a student-athlete, then I was able to go to Miami and build a highly competitive football program and won a bunch of games, was able to send eight players to play for the Mountaineers and now come full circle. I am so proud of my kids who came here and were successful, especially Geno and Stedman, who have accomplished so much.

“Being here at West Virginia is like being at my home away from home, from the secretaries, to the graduate assistants, the staff, the assistant coaches and Dana, it’s one big family. I am looking forward to making a big contribution to the University and the football program, I can’t wait to get started.”

Though Cogdell might be viewed as a direct replacement for Slaughter, Holgorsen said he will announce specific staff assignments at a later time.

“It’s exciting to welcome back a former Mountaineer to Morgantown,” Holgorsen said. “Damon Cogdell has been successful at every stage of his career from player to coach and has built one of the best high school football programs in the state of Florida. Now, as he takes his next coaching step to major college football, it’s certainly appropriate that he starts at his alma mater. He brings a wealth of experience in developing and coaching student-athletes, and his knowledge will be a great asset to our program.”

Cogdell’s 2013 team at Miramar finished 12-1, advanced to the third round of the state playoffs and finished No. 13 in the state He was 72-19 as head coach at Miramar, highlighted by a Class 8A state championship in 2009 and runner-up finsh in 2011. He spent the previous five years as the school’s defensive coordinator and has seen more than 50 players sign with college programs.

He was the starting linebacker for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League for two seasons and helped the Lions earn the 2000 Gray Cup title.

Cogdell graduated from West Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in physical education with an emphasis in sport management in 1999. He had a career-high 13 tackles against Virginia Tech in 1997 and a career-high two tackles for loss against Miami in 1997.

Slaughter, whose career had been rooted in the Texas high school ranks, spent two seasons as WVU’s defensive line coach.

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  • Protechcpa

    This is the best move since Holgorsen was hired. I would love to think Ollie pulled the string on this one, the beginning of keeping DH on a tighter leash, but probably wishful thinking. I hope Damon works his way to the top and becomes the "head coach in waiting" behind DH. Some may laugh, but look at the results as a head coach (any level) between the two and it is not much of a reach. Damon is a true Mountaineer, not a "Black Bart" imposter. Welcome home, to stay, I hope.

    • Mister Man


  • madhatter

    to play the devil's advocate.....

    why didn't we bring in a proven college coach, who has a proven defensive record..

    wvu continues to want to be the proving ground for assistants... aka dana,, etc.

    this is a guessing game when you bring a high school coach into the big time college football arena and expect him to compete against seasoned assistants of opposing teams

    now, i am not saying that he won't be a huge success, , hopefully he will, but wvu is on the big time and we shouldn't be hiring assist's like we were marshall, and hoping they pan out.

    • Mister Man

      You guys did bring in a proven college coach. Doc has been around for a while.

    • the big fan

      I guess Auburn is sad they hired a once famous high school coach . Yes 1 national championship as a OC and playing for another that sure does sound bad. Every successfull coach has started at 0-0.

      • madhatter

        malzhan was HC of arkansas state,,,
        he was OC at auburn , arkansas, and tulsa,\
        he won the broyles award for top college assit. coach...
        so this man came to auburn well decorated and experienced and very knowledgeable of the college game.

        cogdell has only high school experience,, big time miramar , but soley high school.

        i am shocked that wvu hired him to help out on one of the worst defenses we have ever fielded.
        with all the money floating around wvu athletics, you're telling me that cogdell is the most knowable and experienced coach we could come up with to coach our def??????? no wonder we're the bottom feeders of the big 12

        • Hillboy wv

          Malzhan was hired right out of the high school ranks to be the oc at arkansas when houston nutt was coach there. SMH. We hired was as an assistant not a coordinator. Look at briles at baylor. He coached in high school in texas and got the head coaching job at houston. Some people hate on people just to hate. Hell obama was a community organizer and a part time senator and you voted him president. Codgell will be alright. At least he played the sport and has coached.

        • Mister Man

          Marshall isn't in the Big 12.

        • scott

          If you dont think this is a good dont know much about college football...and like the title says...its about recruiting.

        • SamWvu304

          Well go find us all one that has lived/coached up to your standard. Tell him he will be making the same amount as you do from the school for your coaching expertise!!!!!awwww.. oops!!!!...NAUGHTAAAA!!!!!LMAO! This coaches BLood,Sweat,n tears are all over that field and in those colors. He will do whatever it takes to see this team be successful. As he has done in the past as a HEAD COACH,And a teammate. He seems to be the kind of coach that throws his wallet down to help the program in it's entirety SUCCEED!!!

          • SamWvu304

            Absolutely the best MAN for the job. True Gold nBlue all The way Through. Lets Gooooo!!!!!!Part the Tide as if you were Moses!!Leave behind Crimson rivers of blood..(okay thts too much.. lol)

    • J the C

      My guess is that being a successful head coach for a Florida Class 8A team qualifies one to be a head coach at a lot of NCAA Division 1 teams.

      • madhatter

        cant agree

  • Bob

    Great hire, Dana. This brings a member of one of WVU's greatest teams....brings an outstanding coach in south Florida with one of the best large school records in recent years and...brings some Mountie tradition and enthusiasm to get us back to prominence.
    Congratulations and welcome back, Damon.
    Let's go......Mountaineers.

    Denton, Texas

  • Dave

    Dana made a good hire. Welcome back Damon Cogdell.
    Once a Mountaineer always a Mountaineer !!!!

    • WVUFAN

      Unless your name is Rich Rod!

  • DWM

    Best hire that could be made. He will have plenty of contacts in the talent rich Miami Dade area and, hopefully, can do something to help the defense. Good hire!

  • madhatter

    and now, let's dump the qb coach, what a waste of money,,, and how in the world can we get deforest to go elsewhere without paying his salary.

    • ron "from morgantown"

      Crook was offered the O line job at Wake Forrest , but no word whether he accepted or not . Deforrest was the second highest paid asst coach in the B12 (501,OOO$) only behind Applewhite at Texas (605,000$) . No word on whether Applewhite will be retained by Strong.

      • madhatter

        for sure, crook staying put

    • shawn

      Spavital leaving definitely hurt our QB development. They do need somebody in there who can develop any style of QB. I mean do we really have a QB coach? Who is it..Dawson?

  • WVcoal

    I hope Cogdell can help keep open the talent pipeline from Florida to WVU! Welcome back Damon!

  • Jim Moltzer

    Great news ... outstanding hire in so many ways! Great job Dana!

  • Chris

    I thought Eric done a good job with defensive line most of the problems were on the back end of the defense but I'm excited to see what Damon can do he's a very good defensive minded coach his defenses were very good everywhere he's been. He will be a big presence in Florida for recruiting also.

    • shawn

      When the D-Line cant get pressure on the QB then the defensive backs are going to struggle. You can only defend a WR for so long before he gets open.

      • Chris

        True we had no pass rush at all.

        • shawn

          I mean being ranked 105th in sacks this year is not good. We only had like 17. We had 12 interceptions which is pretty good considering we had no pass rush.

          • Captain Obvious

            we were ranked 90th in rushing defense as well. add that to the fact that slaughter hasn't been a good recruiter makes this a very smart move.

  • madhatter

    i can only hope this gives wvu a huge shot in the arm for our poor recruiting effort..
    we are simply doing only enough in the recruiting effort to place us in the bottom tier in the big 12 and assures us of staying there if we can't recruit... let's give up on texas area, and go back to our basics ,, florida, maryland, ohio, pa and nj.

    • Mister Man

      Our recruiting is going quite well.

    • jwg66

      we are getting polenty of recruits. keeping them in the program and healthy is another story. attrition from the FB team is really high.

    • Troll

      Where do you get your info? Recruiting has picked up greatly over the past couple years.

      • dbm

        False. Classes have been rated in the 40s on every recruiting site. Holgorsen is a complete disaster and the sooner he is fired the sooner we can rebuild.

        • joe

          As soon as you fire him you will be in rebuilding mode again for another 4 or 5 years.I never heard of a more stupid reply You have to have patience.MY god you idiot dbm and your false comment is false we have a good recruiting class that should only get better.

          • dbm

            This class is currently ranked 46 by Scout and 44 by Rivals. On paper, this is an average class. Given Holg's mediocre recruiting thus far, it is a waste of energy to get too excited.

            I truly wonder why people think he is such a great coach. He hasn't done a lick at WVU with anyone that he has recruited.

    • Art in Ohio

      I believe that is what they are trying to do. Note.. ESPN rated 4 or our current recruits in the top 300 and if a certain running back from North Carolina goes our way we will have 5 top ESPN recruits. The current class has two linemen that are showing as 2 star players and that will bring you down in rankings. I believe before its over with this will be a good class. We now have 4 players in the class 2015 and two of them are 4 start recruits. We have never had such a good start in a class that was so far away from signing day. All WVU needs is a good QB to bring this all togather.

      • madhatter

        let's hope the kid from maryland is our answer at qb, right now we simply don't have a div 1 qb

        • Mister Man

          You have Cato.

        • shawn

          We have a couple good QB's but they need some developing.

          • dbm

            We have zero qb's. That and poor leadership from the top is why we will be bad again next year.

            Give Ollie credit. Jacking up prices, lowering expectations, and still making money is tough to do.

      • ron "from morgantown"

        I might add , Holgs also needs a patient fan base , if he can survive 2014 he will be set for a great run at WVU. Most people believe he needs a winning record in 2014 , I think that can happen . But if he fails to win in 2014 , then the fan base will want him fired and that's the last thing we need . Stay the course , we are headed in the right direction whether we win or lose next year .

        • Webb

          LOL!!!! Please tell me what the Great Dana has done that makes you think we are headed in the right direction?!?!? Patience left when he states after every game that we were "outcoached". Dana is cocky(not sure why), snarky(because he knows everything about football), and is in over his head. WVU would be a lot better if they could realize this and cut their losses before we start losing to programs like Kansas and Iowa State....oh wait....

        • Jon

          I think for the most part that WVU's fan base has been patient. At the same time WVU is 11-14 over the last two year and loss to Iowa State and Kansas which is unacceptable. I believe he should be let go next year if we don't get to a bowl. Asking for 6 wins isn't asking too much

        • J the C

          Amen, Ron!

        • Bondo

          Agree ron

        • Master of One

          I agree...

          Dana Holgorsen needs at least 10 years to establish his program. If he bombs out next season and we then fire him it will be a down right crying shame because he needs more time.

          He is young and in a "learning process" so everyone needs to be patient and he will turn the program into greatness.

          • BH

            Ten years? I hope you are being sarcastic.

          • madhatter

            if it takes him 10 yrs to develop a winning program ,there won't be one person in the stands to watch them play.

            in my long life, i have never heard such a stupid statement about wvu football

          • Neal

            Ten years, are you serious? Your last name must be Holgerson to actually believe that.

          • shawn

            10 years is a bit excessive. I mean a good 5-6 years is long enough to establish the program.

        • shawn

          Very smart statement. I agree 100 %

  • GoEers

    Great hire! He has already paid dividends in recruiting as a 2015 WR prospect from Miramar commited to WVU this morning.

    • Guardian

      This hire, like Gibby, Galloway, Crook, and now Damon smacks of Oliver Luck's doings. I don't think Holgorsen initiated these hires.

    • Chris

      Maybe another tomorrow his 4 star DB

      • GoEers

        i hope so...that kid has been offered by everyone including FSU...would be a huge grap for WVU

    • ron "from morgantown"

      Who is that ?

      • shawn

        Kahlil Lewis

        • shawn

          Hes a 6'1 WR.

          • ron "from morgantown"

            Thanks. Holgorsen seems to be making some solid choices , Gibby , Lonnie , Jajuan , and now Cogdell.

  • shawn

    I can see them using Cogdell to pull some last minute recruits in. I cant stress how big this move is for the program.

  • john b

    The man has been as loyal as they come for WVU. I hope this is the start of something real big for Coach Cogdell!

    • shawn

      Yea this will open up some doors for him. You'll see him climb the coaching ladder quickly. Expect him to be a D-Coordinator in the next 3 years.

      • Master of One

        And possibly even head coach in 10.

  • ron "from morgantown"

    Erik Slaughter has been fired to make room for Cogdell.

    • shawn

      Is that rumor?

      • shawn

        Nevermind! "There's been no official announcement from WVU on who Cogdell is replacing, but reports are swirling that defensive line coach Erik Slaughter is leaving the staff."

      • ron "from morgantown"

        No its a fact , DP is reporting it .

  • shawn

    Awesome Hire!!! Well done Dana for bringing Cogdell back to WVU. You'll see improvement out of the defensive front. I'm not sure what this means for Erik Slaughter though.

    • madhatter

      it means he's done, either fired or quit