WVU LB Bartlett shines following death of brother
MORGANTOWN — An arrow is pulled backward before it is launched forward. West Virginia linebacker Jared Bartlett followed a similar path this offseason.
In June, Bartlett’s brother, Richard, was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident in their home state of Georgia. He later died from his injuries.
Jared Bartlett was in the midst of a strong offseason of preparation, according to head coach Neal Brown. Bartlett continued to work hard in the fall, but struggled in limited game action.
Bartlett’s struggles were nowhere to be found last Saturday. The redshirt sophomore tallied three second-half sacks on Virginia Tech’s Braxton Burmeister, forcing a crucial fumble on the last one.
West Virginia ultimately came out on top, winning 27-21. On Tuesday, Bartlett was named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
“Tragedy affects people differently and, once that happened, he’s had a renewed focus, kind of a seriousness about his preparation,” Brown said. “I was extremely pleased for him that it paid off in a game situation, much less a rivalry game, in a couple huge moments for us.”
Bartlett is a reserve at bandit, a hybrid position on defense that takes skills from both the defensive end and outside linebacker positions. Among those skills Bartlett possesses is quickness, which allowed him to dominate against the Hokies.
“Jared has grown so much in the last year as a player,” defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley said. “He comes to the sideline, it was first quarter/early second quarter, and he said ‘Coach, I’m mismatched with these guys on the edge.’ So, I trust him, and put him out there.
“It’s pretty easy to see, a lot of times we’ll have guys protect us because of the interior.
“When that happens, he took full advantage of it. I’ve always told him his advantage is speed, and he has to use that. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but that’s okay. I think he figured that out and had a great game.”
Mike O’Laughlin, West Virginia’s starting tight end, returned to the field Saturday after missing the first two games while nursing an injury.
Offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said O’Laughlin is still a work in progress.
“Your biggest growth in offensive football or as a football team, in our opinion, it would be Game 1 to 2,” Parker said. “Some things you know you’ve got to fix because the film had told you. For Mike, it was his first game. Although Mike statistically didn’t grade out great yet, his biggest growth this year is going to be from Game 1 to Game 2.”
Freshman RB enrolls
Running back Jaylen Anderson, a four-star prospect, has officially enrolled at WVU.
Anderson, who missed the entirety of fall camp, was seen on the sideline at Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech.
Brown said Thursday that Anderson will redshirt and prepare for spring practice.
“What we’re doing is working towards getting him off to a successful start in school,” Brown said. “At the same time, we want to get him into a position where he can compete in January, so he joined our developmental lifting group with the other guys that we anticipate redshirting. We’re excited he’s here.”