MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Former West Virginia linebacker Damon Cogdell, who has developed some of West Virginia's best players in recent years while coaching at Miramar High School in Florida, will now develop them in Morgantown.Cogdell was hired as a defensive assistant coach by WVU Wednesday. He will replace defensive line coach Erik Slaughter, whose contract expired and will not be renewed.The moves come as a bit of a surprise after athletic director Oliver Luck issued a statement a month ago regarding the school's football program and stressed the need to maintain continuity. However, that was primarily in regard to head coach Dana Holgorsen, who after three seasons was being criticized by fans after a 4-8 season.Slaughter was hired as the school's defensive line coach two years ago under a two-year contract that expires on Jan. 30. He was being paid $200,000 per year, a figure that Cogdell will now earn.
In addition to Cogdell, West Virginia' program has also added a handful of players. One is former running back Andrew Buie, who withdrew from school early in the fall semester and went home to Florida. Buie, the team's leading rusher in 2012, re-enrolled in late December and was to begin classes Wednesday.Three junior college transfers and two early-entry high school recruits are also enrolled for the spring semester. They are junior college quarterback Skyler Howard, cornerback Keishawn Richardson and offensive lineman Sylvester Townes, along with high school receiver Ricky Rodgers and linebacker Davonte James. Junior college linebacker Edward Muldrow III is also expected to enroll but had not as of Wednesday.Cogdell, who has coached at Miramar since 2002 and sent Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey, among others, to WVU, made his first post on a new Twitter account Wednesday, simply saying, "Glad to be a Mountaineer.'' Holgorsen also tweeted, "Welcome back home from South Florida @DamonCogdell.''What position Cogdell will coach was not specified and, in fact, a release by the school said that Holgorsen would announce staff assignments at a later time. That could mean that he is not finished remaking his staff.
"It's exciting to welcome back a former Mountaineer to Morgantown,'' Holgorsen said in a statement. "Damon Cogdell has been successful at every stage of his career from player to coach and has built one of the best high school football programs in the state of Florida. Now, as he takes his next coaching step to major college football, it's certainly appropriate that he starts at his alma mater."He brings a wealth of experience in developing and coaching student-athletes and his knowledge will be a great asset to our program. He also knows what it means to be a Mountaineer and what this program means to our state and I am excited to add him to our staff."Cogdell will likely be an asset in recruiting South Florida, where the Mountaineers already have a solid recruiter in running backs coach JaJuan Seider.Cogdell has been the head coach at Miramar since 2007 after first serving as the school's defensive coach. According to the school's release he was 72-19 overall at Mirimar and won the 2009 state championship, finished second in 2011 and advanced to at least the second round of the state high school playoffs each year."Coming back to West Virginia University is like a breath of fresh air," Cogdell said in the school's release. "Being here on the coaching staff is a dream come true. I had a great experience as a student-athlete, then I was able to go to Miami and build a highly competitive football program and won a bunch of games, was able to send eight players to play for the Mountaineers and now come full circle."I am so proud of my kids who came here and were successful, especially Geno and Stedman, who have accomplished so much. Getting to be there at the Orange Bowl two years ago and see all the guys perform on that high of a level was unbelievable. Being here at West Virginia is like being at my home away from home, from the secretaries, to the graduate assistants, the staff, the assistant coaches and Dana, it's one big family. I am looking forward to making a big contribution to the University and the football program, I can't wait to get started."Cogdell graduated from West Virginia with a bachelor's degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports management in 1999 and has a physical education teaching certification. He was a linebacker with the Mountaineers in 1997 and 1998, finishing with 107 tackles, including 66 as a senior. He had seven tackles for loss, three sacks, two pass breakups and forced a fumble. He had a career-high 13 tackles against Virginia Tech in 1997 and a career-high two tackles for loss against Miami in 1997.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.