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WVU defensive staff additions begin

MORGANTOWN - It appears as if Dana Holgorsen is zeroing in on the men he wants to fill out his West Virginia defensive coaching staff. Now the question is if he can get them or not.

One, Oklahoma State special teams and safeties coach Joe DeForest, is apparently already in the fold and the school is merely going through a background check.

A second one, though, seems to be up in the air.

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables is apparently weighing several options, one of which is West Virginia. But he could also be in demand elsewhere. Specifically, Clemson fired defensive coordinator Kevin Steele on Thursday, about a week after the Tigers surrendered an embarrassing 70 points to WVU in the Orange Bowl. Venables could also be a candidate there.

West Virginia, of course, is making no announcements until any hires are finalized. But multiple sources confirmed Thursday that DeForest is already on board and that Venables is being pursued.

West Virginia is in search of at least three new defensive coaches after coordinator Jeff Casteel, line coach Bill Kirelawich and cornerbacks coach David Lockwood left to join Rich Rodriguez's staff at Arizona. The only defensive coach remaining on staff is safeties coach Steve Dunlap.

It became obvious that DeForest was on his way when he resigned his position at Oklahoma State Wednesday after 11 years and told coach Mike Gundy he needed to advance his career. He later told the Tulsa World that he was headed to West Virginia, although his position on the defensive staff is not yet clear.

"It's always hard to say goodbye,'' DeForest told the newspaper. "No one ever wants change. Do I want to leave? No, but I have to leave. I have to leave for my family and my career. I'm just trying to advance my career.

"Mike Gundy has been good to me. If it wasn't for Mike Gundy and [OSU athletic director] Mike Holder, I wouldn't be where I am today.''

DeForest, who also held the title of associate head coach at Oklahoma State, is best known for his recruiting abilities in the Houston area and for his work with the Cowboys' special teams. West Virginia could use both with the upcoming move to the Big 12 and a recent history of erratic special teams play.

One of the reasons DeForest's exact position at West Virginia isn't known likely relates to Holgorsen's other targets, including Venables. There is speculation the two could be co-coordinators.

The reason Venables is available is that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is in the process of rehiring his brother, Mike. Mike Stoops was OU's defensive coordinator before he became the head coach at Arizona. He was fired there in November and replaced by Rodriguez.

With Mike Stoops back at Oklahoma, it isn't clear how that would work as it relates to Venables, who took over as the school's defensive coordinator when Mike Stoops left for Arizona. And while ultimately coexisting might not be an issue, apparently Venables is taking the opportunity to explore his options. His name had been in the mix at Auburn before that school hired Brian VanGorder of the Atlanta Falcons.

Holgorsen has known both DeForest and Venables for years, although he has only coached with one of them, DeForest, for one year when he was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State in 2010.

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com.

 

 


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