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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  • Boomgrounder

    @madhatter You are way off on this one. Cogdell is being hired as a defensive assistant not a Coordinator. He is a football coach and he knows how to coach football. He has been very successful at it at the highest level of high school football. He has a connection with WVU as an alumnus and a former player and has sent his former players to play to WVU. He has sent his former players to play to other D-1 programs all around the nation and many of these players have gone on to be NFL players. His asset to Dana Holgorsen, Oliver Luck and WVU's Football Program as a recruiter with his connections with all of the HS Coaches in South Florida and throughout the state of Florida from his exposure in the playoffs is invaluable. I'm a lifelong Mountaineer who lives in NE FL over 500 miles from Miami and this was front page on the sports page here when it happened. You have no idea how well thought of Cogxell is among HS Coaches in FL. Also you obviously have no idea of the talent level and quantity of HS football players available for recruitment here in the state of FL compared to WV. For WVU to be successful in the BIG XII they must have a major recruiting pipeline to FL and hopefully this will help that pipeline flow! This is a great move by WVU!!

  • harold wilson

    i think in 214 wvu will be alot better. coach holgerson will get it done. even alabama dont win them all. we will be just fine and i hope dana holgerson stays a mountaineer untill he retires. we can win the national championship with dana i really beleave that. so wvu fans support dana give him a chance.

  • Fairport

    This is a high school with about 300 more students than our largest high school, Jefferson County High School. 8A means more than 2600 or so students in Florida. But that doesn't matter about the hire. Great hire as got rid of a DH flunkie, brought in outstanding recruiter for the Florida boys and brought home a true Mountaineer. I bet he will wear gold and blue on game day! Did we get rid of Deforest YET!

  • Phil M.

    With WVU not playing anybody in Florida anymore this was a great decision. Florida recruits have served us well and we can't afford to lose that. These kids don't see us coming down there anymore, playing games, so we lose a lot of opportunites.

    That's why we need USF in the Big 12. Go play them every other year and keep our brand in front of the Florida recruits. Just like the situation we had when we played USF and before that Miami.

    • madhatter

      UCF will be the next big 12 addition

  • madhatter

    all this rah rah, i love damon , he's a mountaineer, he's the right man for the job,,,, all this tells me nothing about his abilities on the college level.

    all i know is,, for the past two yrs. our def. has been absolutely terrible and we have become the laughing stock of the big 12,

    now we hire a high school coach to anchor our defense, a high school coach.
    his blood may bleed old gold and blue, but he's a high school coach. and we're going against some big time programs,,, texas, okla, alabama okla state, and we hire a totally inexperienced high school coach.
    Now personally, i am sure he is a great guy and an ex eer player, but come on man,,, we tried this crap with dana an OC who had never been a HC on the college level, and look how that turned out.
    With our money, we can afford to hire an experienced proven commodity to upgrade out def.
    we do not have to hire coaches and coach them up,, we don't need on the job training, coaches,, we need pros already
    Damon , please prove me wrong , please, but right now, i am extremely disappointed in this hire, ,extremely

  • Maxeer

    Your in for a treat with SH @QB.....

  • Jon

    Great hire by Dana. Will help tremendously in getting some talent from South Florida. The only thing I don't like is that Slaughter was fired instead of Deforest. Holgs can't keep sticking with a horrible coach how is overpaid.

    • Texas

      Slaughter facilitated great improvement on line, had highest student academic improvement, too.

    • madhatter

      slaughter's contract was not renewed, being no buyout,,,, deforest still has a yr left on his contract of $500,000 , so he's be gone after next yr hopefully.... what a total waste ,, must be a good drinking buddy though

      • madhatter

        sorry, this will be deforest's last yr.

  • madhatter

    i just find it very hard to believe that we have to go to the high school ranks to fill our coaching vacancies.... This would be unheard of in texas, okla, alabama, ark ,usc, penn state, pitt,,, i could go on and on..but i just thought we could attrack better qualified coaches than a high school coach...

  • tw eagle

    I congratulate Damon on his success & hope he brings that along with him back to WVU . . .

    I hope that his ability to win in a tough Miami conference , with even tougher kids , says he will be able to ' communicate' with some of the kids who 'don't quite get it' at WVU . . .
    in other words , the bad cop just pulled into town . . .

  • 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!