Donovan Miles Seizes Opportunity as WVU Fullback - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Donovan Miles Seizes Opportunity as WVU Fullback


All careers come to an end. At some point, due to any number of factors, the time comes to hang up the cleats and say goodbye to the game.

Donovan Miles has no intention of ending his collegiate career without a fight.

When Miles, a linebacker the past four seasons for West Virginia, heard about the opportunity to move across the line of scrimmage and play a new position at fullback in his senior season, he jumped at it.

The Stafford, Va. native hadn't played offensive football since high school, but he was ready to do whatever it took to help the team and give himself a chance to contribute on game days in a way he has not experienced since coming to Morgantown.

"I feel like I can contribute right now and being on special teams, I always have a good chance," Miles said Tuesday. "That's where I feel I can contribute the most on the team at this point in my career, but I do feel like I have a good chance to play fullback."

The opportunity presented itself when a fellow fifth-year senior Mountaineer, Matt Lindamood, vacated the fullback position.

Linebackers coach Keith Patterson, a man Miles says he feels like has been coaching him since little league, addressed him about the opportunity and made it clear to both Miles and the offensive staff that he felt he would be the best fit.

Miles, envisioning himself as a leader on the team, took the challenge head on.

"It's been tough. It's a big adjustment," he says. "It's a learning curve, but with the help of my teammates – Shawne Alston, Ryan Clarke and [Andrew] Buie – and especially my coaches, it's been an easy transformation."

The running plays have been easier than the passing plays. They say there's a reason why defenders aren't playing offensive skill positions and it's because they can't catch. Well, for Miles, a broken hand makes it a little more difficult, too.

While on kickoff team for the Orange Bowl, Miles got his left hand caught in Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins' helmet. He broke it then and has been practicing with a hard cast ever since. He says the latest x-rays show that he should be back to 100 percent and able to fully contribute, hopefully improving his ability to haul in anything Geno Smith or Paul Millard throw his way.

Miles puts everything he has into finding success at fullback and he has already made so much of an impression that his name was listed second on the depth chart behind veteran Ryan Clarke. He admits, though, that the first few days at the new position felt foreign for a variety of reasons.

"I felt weird being on that other side of the ball after being four years on the blue side," Miles says of wearing the defense's blue practice jersey. "Going to the white side, it felt weird. Once I got over it, it didn't matter. I looked at them like they were on the other side of the ball, just like I looked at the offense when I was on defense."

So everyday, he lines up across from his old linebacker brethren. The men who once flanked him to the right and left are now straight ahead, trying to get past him to the quarterback or running back.

His role has changed, but his familiarity with his old duties is proving beneficial as he settles in at fullback.

"When I'm doing pass blocking drills, I get into a linebacker mindset just to figure out what they're about to do, what's going to be their first move," says Miles. "I've even talked to good pass blockers like Shawne Alston about what did they do when I came against them to beat me and that helps me out."

Alston, who admits he does not like linebackers, may have taken some convincing that Miles had truly joined his side, but in just a few short practices he needs no further persuasion. As a fellow senior, it didn't take long to understand and appreciate the drive that Miles is bringing to this latest endeavor, knowing his time with the team is winding down.

"You can see the hunger in him," says Alston. "Just when he goes through drills, you can [hear] the noise he's making because he's working hard. The aggressiveness is definitely there. When you're aggressive and you give great effort, everything will just come along eventually."

The transition is already ahead of schedule as he pushes his way up the depth chart and into position to make a real impact on the field after just five practices in his new jersey.  

His sense of urgency is heightened with the knowledge that his career is coming to a close, but Miles believes that his imprint on the program does not depend on how well he adapts to a new position.

"On the field, I haven't made that much of an impact, but just this brotherhood in the locker room and even with my coaches off the field and in the classroom, I've made an impact," Miles says.

"When I do graduate and leave, I'll feel good about that."

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