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Look Ahead: 2021 Mountaineer defense already starting to take shape

MORGANTOWN, W.VA- With several key announcements over the last few days, the highly touted Mountaineer defense of 2020 is already starting to take shape for 2021, before fall camp starts in the coming months. 

Sean Mahone, a redshirt Senior who contributed 50 total tackles and an interception during the 2020 season, announced he would be cashing in on his NCAA free season of eligibility next season.

Sean Mahone announced via Instagram Thursday that he would return for a sixth season.

Mahone joins Jeffrey Pooler and Dante Stills (who announced just last month that he would be returning for another season for the Mountaineers, after weighing his options in the NFL draft) in announcing their return over the offseason. 

Pooler and Stills, both from the defensive line, combined for 53 tackles and five sacks during the 2020 campaign.

Barring future injuries or transfers, Neal Brown should expect to return nine of his eleven starters on the defensive side of the ball from 2020. This number also doesn’t include Second Team All-Big 12 defensive tackle Akheem Mesidor, who was named a freshman All-American by various outlets, and Exree Loe who contributed heavily on defense as well.

Mesidor finished the season with 29 total tackles and five sacks, while Loe finished with 46 tackles and a forced fumble. 

The nine returnees from last year were all part of a squad that finished in the top five of total defense for the entire FBS, allowing an average of just 4.65 yards per play.

What makes these rankings even more impressive was that it was done all without an official defensive coordinator for the season. Jordan Lesley and Jahmile Addae split the duties all season, with Lesley focusing on the front of the defense, and Addae the back.

With as much returning production, it appears Neal Brown is prepared to find similar numbers for his defense this coming season.

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