WVU bandit VanDarius Cowan has been suspended for the first four games of 2019 due to NCAA eligibility issues, a source told the Gazette-Mail.

The West Virginia University football team will be without a key member of its defense for the first four games of the 2019 season.

A source confirmed to the Gazette-Mail a 247Sports report that linebacker VanDarius Cowan will have to sit the first four games of this season due to NCAA eligibility issues. The source did not say what those issues were.

That knocks Cowan out of West Virginia’s entire non-conference slate — home Aug. 31 versus James Madison, Sept. 7 at Missouri and Sept. 14 at home versus North Carolina State — and the team’s Big 12 opener Sept. 21 at Kansas. He will be eligible to return for the Oct. 5 game in Morgantown versus Texas.

Cowan, who sat out the 2018 season after transferring to WVU from Alabama, was listed in the Mountaineers’ media guide as the starter at bandit. The redshirt sophomore played in seven games in his freshman year with the Crimson Tide.

In Cowan’s absence, the Mountaineers should get some help from senior Quondarius Qualls, who moved to bandit this preseason. Other players at that position for WVU include redshirt juniors Zach Sandwisch and and Charlie Benton.

Cowan was a four-star prospect and the No. 78 overall recruit in the 2017 signing class in the 247Sports Composite ratings. He was the nation’s No. 4 outside linebacker recruit out of Palm Beach Gardens High in Florida.

Contact Derek Redd at 304-348-1712 or Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.