MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Nose guard Lamonte McDougle informed West Virginia coaches he plans to transfer in search of a defensive system that will facilitate him making more tackles and sacks.
The move is curious considering the undersized McDougle emerged as a nine-game starter and ESPN freshman All-American for the Mountaineers last season.
His decision, revealed internally upon returning from spring break last week, blind-sided position coach Bruce Tall, defensive coordinator Tony Gibson and head coach Dana Holgorsen, all of whom spoke with McDougle in an attempt to understand his rationale.
The rising sophomore had been held out of spring practice following shoulder surgery.
McDougle is expected to receive his official release by Friday.
His father, Stockar McDougle, declined comment on the pending transfer when reached Wednesday in South Florida.
The 5-foot-10, 300-pounder surprisingly earned a spot in the Mountaineers defensive line rotation during 2017 before taking over the starting job in Week 5 at Kansas. He finished with 23 tackles, four for loss, with two sacks. McDougle also forced and recovered one fumble.
Projected to be a key piece of West Virginia’s nose guard plans, McDougle’s departure damages the depth of a defensive line that was gashed at times last season. However, the emergence of sophomore Darius Stills and the expected addition of a graduate transfer from another Power 5 program could stabilize things.
Senior Brenon Thrift, whose career includes stints at Temple and Penn State, also becomes eligible at WVU next season.
McDougle becomes the second defensive line starter to transfer from West Virginia this offseason, following the February exit of junior defensive end Adam Shuler, who plans to pursue a track and field scholarship. Whereas Shuler showed lapses in effort across his three seasons, McDougle wore the look of an over-achiever while impressing coaches with his strength and hustle.
He was a three-star recruit who signed with the Mountaineers in 2017 out of Deerfield Beach High in Plantation, Fla. That was the third high school McDougle attended and now, after one season in Morgantown, he’s on the move again.
His other offers included Washington State (where he briefly committed), along with Arkansas, Kentucky, Penn State, UCF, North Carolina, Iowa State, FIU, Purdue and Minnesota.