Newcomer Nester impressing on WVU offensive line
Doug Nester is no stranger to the Mountain State, but he is a stranger to West Virginia.
Luckily for him, his reputation as one of the state’s best high school football players in the class of 2019 follows him to Morgantown, and his prior experience makes him a key addition to the WVU football team’s offensive line.
Nester, a junior, currently is going through his first spring session with the Mountaineers after transferring from Virginia Tech in December, joining fellow Spring Valley High School alums Graeson Malashevich and Owen Chafin.
Through two weeks of spring ball, Nester has been making strides to nestle himself in as a role player down in the trenches for the Mountaineers this fall.
“You can see as he learns what we’re doing and what the expectations are and then what his job is in each scheme. You can see him starting to play with confidence and be more physical,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said on Thursday. “(I’m) excited about him. I think he can be an upper-level Big 12 offensive lineman without a doubt.”
Nester, who primarily saw time on the field at the guard position for the Hokies, has been working at a variety of positions on the offensive line for WVU this spring. Versatility on the offensive line has been a big emphasis for Brown and company the last couple of weeks.
“I thought his last two days, he’s been impressive,” Brown said. “We’re playing him at guard and tackle, trying to dual-train a lot of those guys up front on the offensive line.”
Offensive line coach Matt Moore returns the majority of his unit from a season ago, losing two of the five starters this offseason in Chase Behrndt and Michael Brown, both receiving All-Big 12 honors a season ago and choosing not to return.
The returning starters consist of some question marks but create a solid foundation for Moore and the offense to build off of.
Brandon Yates arguably is one of the most experienced of the bunch, having started the bulk of last season after overtaking Junior Uzebu in the starting group. After Uzebu announced his transfer from the program, Yates became an anchor on the left side of the line.
Zach Frazier, a native of Fairmont, enters his sophomore season having made a handful of starts at the guard position last year. James Gmiter is in a similar role, as well, having been a starter before missing a start due to COVID-19, tossing his role around.
Parker Moorer and John Hughes round out the right side, having split the season at right tackle.
As the team progresses through the spring, while Brown has said that he does not plan on naming starters until later in the year, the early practices are beneficial for identifying some players to stand out.
“You try to throw as many situations as you can at them,” Brown said. “The purpose is to get them to make mistakes because mistakes are great teaching tools, and you hope they don’t repeat that mistake a second time. If that happened in a game, it’s a major issue but in spring practice we make the correction.”
But, throughout the ups and downs of spring ball, Nester has shown the potential to be a stellar protector for the Mountaineer offense.
“We’re glad we have him now and look forward to him playing a big role for us over the next couple years,” Brown said.