Miles' Position Switch Shows Selflessness, Leadership - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Miles' Position Switch Shows Selflessness, Leadership

Updated:
MORGANTOWN -

It's too bad that no one was alerted about Donovan Miles' position change until after player requests had to be in for interviews on Tuesday.

News like that, a fifth year senior who has only played one position in four years now moved to a whole different side of the ball, warrants a chat with the kid himself.

What went through his mind when he first heard of the switch? How did it go when he got his first carry in individual drills or made his first block against a player whose position he used to share?

The good news for Miles is the media was not informed until that night when all requests had been due hours prior to the announcement. He would have a full week before he had to sit and answer any questions about the transition from a career at linebacker to a new beginning at fullback.

Miles committed to West Virginia in 2007 and stuck with the Mountaineers through a turbulent time and the resulting coaching change. He began his career at WVU in the 2008 season and has been a part of two bowl victories and two bowl losses.

In those years, he has never once started and has only played in a total of 16 games, coming up with 10 tackles. Eleven of those appearances came last season, mostly in special teams duty, and all of the tackles were from that year as well.

With rising senior fullback Matt Lindamood leaving the team this spring, the opportunity to play that position opened and the most natural transition in terms of physical build would be to move a linebacker to fill the void.

"When Coach [Holgorsen] approached me about any of my linebackers that I think could provide depth at that position [I thought of] Donovan immediately because he's a physically tough kid," says Miles' former coach on the staff, Keith Patterson.

In Holgorsen's "trey" formation, the Mountaineers deploy three backs around Geno Smith and Ryan Clarke is the only remaining fullback from three who manned those positions last season. Miles has an opportunity if he can seize it.

On Thursday, running back Shawne Alston made a comment during practice that Miles was making the transition more quickly than he anticipated and just by watching him in a few brief drills it was clear that assessment was accurate.

When the team ran the Oklahoma drill, he was pinned up against the linebackers. While his blocking technique could use improvement, his power was undeniable. On more than one occasion, a teammate at his former position ended up on the ground while trying to get past Miles.

His head may not be in the same place Clarke's is, but his body sure is and at 6-foot-1, 241-pounds, he is taller and heavier than anyone else in his meeting room and with four years of linebacker under his belt, you can bet he is in terrific shape in terms of endurance as well.

And boy, has he endured.

Four years of working just as hard as those around him, but never seeing it pay off on the field when it really counted the way he and certainly the coaching staff envisioned when he first signed out of Brooke Point High School in Stafford, Va.

That motivation, that drive, may make this switch turn out perfectly for both the individual and the team.

"He wants to [succeed] very bad, he loves this program and he was the guy that stepped up and said, ‘I'll do whatever it takes to help this football team,'" says Patterson. "He stepped right in and he's doing a nice job from what I can tell."

Tuesday night after practice, after Miles should have had enough time to really adjust to this new place on the field and this new role on the team, you can bet he will be requested for interviews.

He should have quite a story to tell.

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