The top 10 players returning to the West Virginia Mountaineers for the 2020 college football season.
Important to note that this list is based upon last year's data and film from on each specific team as well as judgment based upon the player's position both his skill and the level of talent around him at the said position and influential cohorts. Positional value also plays a large factor in these rankings as does the offensive or defensive scheme.
1. Darius Stills, DI
2. Dante Stills, DI
3. Tykee Smith, SPEAR
4. Jarret Doege, QB
5. Sam James, WR
6. Josh Chandler, LB
7. T.J. Simmons, WR
8. Kerry Martin, S
9. Leddie Brown, RB
10. Sean Mahone, S
Honorable Mention: Dylan Tonkery, LB; James Gmiter, G; Sean Ryan, WR; Winston Wright, WR
The Stills brothers are not only in the running for best interior duo in the Big 12, they're up for best returning interior duo in all of college football. Together they form an incredibly gifted set of pass-rushers, run defenders and sure tacklers up the middle for the Mountaineers. Darius gets the nod over his brother after recording six sacks compared to Dante's seven because he was the more consistent pass-rusher of the duo. They don't miss many tackles and they will move the pocket more often than not, oftentimes requiring double teams which will free up the edge rushers.
Smith is one of the country's top versatile athletes and should see a variety of playing time at multiple positions across the general position board. At WVU, he plays the SPEAR role which is a hybrid between strong safety and slot cornerback. His best work is in coverage but he's an elite-level tackler of all sorts of types of ball carriers. In his first season on campus, he recorded two interceptions, six pass breakups, a sack, 57 total tackles and only missed six attempts. Watch out for Smith in a few years in the NFL draft.
Chandler returns as a dynamic tackling machine with incredible technique at the mesh point. Mahone and Martin are dominant safeties with great coverage skills to boot as well.
And on offense, this team is at its best when Doege gets the nod, proving so last year when he finally took over. He's an elite thrower that can make every throw. Some of his tape from his time at Bowling Green showcased that but he looked even better than that in his four games at the helm of the Mountaineers. He makes every throw look easy and plays incredibly well from inside the pocket. He's slight, but his arm doesn't play that way.
James and Simmons are extremely talented receivers as well and James has arguably some of the country's best moves after the catch. He has highlight-reel ability at the catchpoint and Simmons is the same way. This all goes without even mentioning Brown who, in a featured role, could go for over 1,000 yards on the ground.