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Why James left WVU: Had ‘heart set on playing linebacker, not defensive end’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s football coaches have been silent on the recent departure of spring-semester enrollee Davonte James, who was among the most highly recruited signees in the Mountaineers’ 2014 class.

Springfield (Ohio) linebacker prospect Davonte James left West Virginia after spring semester.

In fact, there was really no acknowledgement at all of James leaving after the conclusion of spring practice; only a change to the online roster.

It appears to be a scenario players encounter frequently—being promised a chance to play one position during recruiting only to encounter a different situation upon arriving on campus.

A 6-foot-3, 230-pound standout linebacker at Springfield High School in Ohio, James enrolled in January but was impacted by the staff shuffling that occurred one month later when defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Keith Patterson left for Arizona State. Tony Gibson subsequently was promoted to coordinator, and newly hired assistant Damon Cogdell was assigned to linebackers.

Somewhat of a tweener, James reportedly was projected as a Buck linebacker during recruiting but was moved to defensive end during spring practice.

“I think Davonte had his heart set on playing linebacker, not defensive end,” a hometown source close to the player told MetroNews.

“When the coach who recruited him—who was going to be his position coach—left, they changed the defense from a 40 front back to a 3-3-5. Davonte felt that wasn’t in his best interests. It was totally a football decision.”

James was ranked a four-star linebacker by ESPN, which listed him the No. 9 overall prospect in Ohio and the nation’s 279th recruit overall. However, opinions on James varied drastically: He received a three-star rating from Rivals, whose analysts ranked him as the 74th-best player in Ohio.

James committed to West Virginia last August over Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Purdue and Illinois.

He reportedly is leaning toward transferring to Cincinnati.





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