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 WVSports.com. “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.