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VanDarius Cowan has played only two games since joining the Mountaineers, but his physical talent has left the coaching staff craving more.

Editor’s note: Gazette-Mail sports editor Derek Redd counts down his 10 most important players on WVU’s 2020 roster.

West Virginia University’s football coaches haven’t gotten much of an opportunity to see linebacker VanDarius Cowan on the field. What they have seen has shown them he’s someone they’d like to see more.

After more than a year of waiting, Cowan got into two games for the Mountaineers last season. Yet a season-ending knee injury sent him right back to the sideline. In that time, he recorded six tackles and a sack.

Cowan should be healthy when he enters the 2020 season, and if he is, he could provide the athletic talent to make a solid linebacker corps even better.

It took a while for Cowan to finally take the field in a WVU uniform. After transferring from Alabama, he had to sit for an NCAA-mandated season. Then, as he was listed as the starter at bandit entering the 2019 season, he had to sit another four games for unspecified NCAA eligibility issues.

When he finally got to the field, he looked good against Texas, picking up a sack and four tackles. He got two tackles against Iowa State before his injury.

Cowan’s game is brimming with potential. He played in seven games as a true freshman in 2017 for a national champion Alabama team.

Before that he was a national top 100 recruit and a top 10 outside linebacker prospect according to Rivals, Scout and 247Sports. Now he needs to turn the potential into results on the field.

In Neal Brown’s second year as WVU’s coach, the defense likely will need to carry the load for an offense that needs to improve in several places. The linebacker corps returns two starters, Dylan Tonkery and second-leading tackler Josh Chandler-Semedo. Those two are solid and steady, and being able to throw a player as dynamic as Cowan into the mix to rush the passer only enhances the entire unit.

West Virginia spent most of last year wondering what could be for Cowan. Now it’s Cowan’s turn to show the Mountaineers what he’s capable of. A healthy season from the junior is just what the defense needs.

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