MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With his first spring football practice approaching at West Virginia, new assistant coach Damon Codgell sounds more relaxed and relieved than you’d expect.
“The biggest thing for me, I only have one position group to worry about,” said Cogdell, who spent 14 years coaching at the high school level—the past 12 in an expanding role at Miramar (Fla.) High School.
“From being the head coach to the defensive coordinator, and a positions coach and also athletic director, there was much more I had to get prepared for,” he said. “So I’m pretty excited that I only have one position to worry about.”
Of course that position group remains unofficial. Since his January hiring, Cogdell has been identified only as a defensive assistant, though sources said he is expected to coach linebackers, the position he played at West Virginia. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has yet to make official the promotion of Tony Gibson to defensive coordinator—a move MetroNews reported last week—and external candidates have interviewed for defensive line coach’s job vacated when Erik Slaughter was fired.
Cogdell, who joined the ‘Statewide Sportsline’ crew Monday night, recounted his busy first month as a college coach—a month that included recruiting his familiar territory in south Florida, where his eight-year record as head coach at Miramar was 72-19.
“It’s almost unfair because a lot of those coaches have known me for a long time and they know I’m going to take real good care of their kids if they come into Morgantown,” he said.
As West Virginia enters Year 3 in the Big 12, Cogdell said the escape from the Big East has revitalized recuriting.
“When you put the American Conference (against) the Big 12 conference, it’s like a no-brainer,” he said. “It’s a great recruiting tool. We have all of our games on television, play against some big-time teams and we’re able to compete for a national title. I think that’s very big to have that Big 12 stamp on your jersey week in and week out.”
Between Cogdell and running backs coach JaJuan Sieder, WVU has a well-known connections in Florida that could mitigate the advantage other Big 12 schools have in Texas. (Of the 187 high school recruits that were signed in the Big 12 this year, 108 of those players were from Texas.)
“(Sieder) calls us the ‘Bad Boys’ and I think it’s going to be a good challenge for us,” Cogdell said. “JaJuan and I went to college together so it’s just like a bond that we already have prior. I think him and I are going to do a great job in south Florida.”
After the Mountaineers signed five Florida players in the 2014 class, Cogdell is looking for more high-impact recruits to follow.
“I want to get a kid that’s a five-star that was wanting to go to Alabama or LSU and then all of a sudden changes their mind,” Cogdell said. “Our goal is to get these guys on campus to see how West Virginia is.”