After staff shuffle, Cogdell says he’s ‘comfortable’ coaching linebackers

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Just 11 days after speaking with the media at length about his new job coaching West Virginia’s defensive linemen, assistant Damon Cogdell was back Tuesday night discussing his newer assignment—coaching linebackers.

Since that spring practice kickoff luncheon on Feb. 21, Dana Holgorsen hired former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. He was handed defensive line duties and Cogdell shifted to linebackers. (Bradley was the only West Virginia assistant who wasn’t made available after Tuesday’s practice. The explanation from the sports information guys? Bradley would meet with the media once he’s more familiar with the players in his unit.)

Cogdell said he didn’t know about Bradley’s hiring at the earlier media session, “but I had an idea it could happen.” He called Bradley’s addition “a great move” and seemed to have similar feelings about his chance to work with linebackers, the position he played at West Virginia in 1997 and ’98.

“It’s comfortable,” he said. “It’s a natural position for me.”

Recently promoted defensive coordinator Tony Gibson continues working with the linebackers—a temporary sharing of duties, because Gibson ultimately desires the freedom to roam and keep a pulse on the entire defense.

“What we’re trying to do now is just learning the scheme, and after I learn the scheme, he’s gone,” Cogdell said. “He’s teaching what he needs me to know, and right now he’s doing a great job doing that for me. Eventually I’ll be by myself with a GA.”

Returning to his alma mater was just part of Cogdell’s sentimental journey, because his former position coach Steve Dunlap remains nearby, working within the Mountaineer Athletic Club.

“I see him all the time—his office is two doors down,” Cogdell said, “So he’s always there mentoring me and giving me some encouraging words.

“It’s kind of weird seeing him on the high school operations part of it. But he’s still here, still part of the family.”

Daryl Worley became a coach’s dream as a freshman, Icky Banks returns as a senior with 16 career starts behind him, and there’s early buzz about junior college transfer Keishawn Richardson.

But what about returning cornerbacks such as third-year sophomore Brandon Napoleon and junior Rickey Rumph, players who have been in the rotation without making a substantial imprint.

“It’s time,” said cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell. “If you’ve been in the program two or three years, it’s your turn to step up, show your worth and find your role so you can help us win some football games.”

Rumph has appeared in 18 games during his first two seasons, making 15 tackles and one fumble recovery in the second half of the 49-14 loss at Texas Tech in 2012. Napoleon played in 10 games last fall, primarily on special teams, registering three stops and recovering a kickoff fumble, also against Texas Tech.

“They’ve got some experience under their belts, and they’re talented kids,” Mitchell said. “So let’s move forward and see how many reps you can get on the football field.”

“Nobody’s keeping score right now, so I’m not feeling any pressure.” — Tony Gibson on WVU’s defensive progress seen after two non-contact practices

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