Sophomore defensive end Reese Donahue often recalls a conversation he had with his father in the stands of a West Virginia game when he was only about six years old.
A life-long fan of the Mountaineers, Donahue turned to his father and asked him a simple question.
“Dad, how do I play here?” he asked.
“You’ve just got to work hard,” his father replied.
So he did.
Those words turned out to be prophetic as Donahue exceled on the football field as a defensive lineman and earned that coveted scholarship offer from his dream school prior to his senior year of high school. It’s a moment in time that will forever be etched into both his and his family’s memories.
“It means the world to me. Being able to play for the dream school you always wanted to attend, there is nothing comparable,” Donahue said.
The in-state native enrolled at the mid-term at West Virginia in order to get a head start on his college career and made his way onto the field in 12 games last year, recording a dozen tackles.
Serving primarily as a depth piece during his initial campaign, Donahue knows that given the fact all three starters are gone from last year’s team he will be asked to do more in year two.
And he believes he is putting himself in position to handle just that.
“I’m in a whole different place that’s for sure. Definitely a lot more experience and confidence in my game. I didn’t know what to expect last season coming in but the coaches got me ready,” he said.
Aside from physically transforming his body and becoming more lean as well as stronger and faster, Donahue also has embraced the transition of being more of a leader in the young defensive line group. That means connecting more with his peers and becoming more comfortable.
“I want to make sure all the guys behind me know they can rely on me up front,” he said.
In year two, Donahue now doesn’t have to go through as much guess work instead now knows what to expect and what he has to do in order to reach that point.
One of the biggest adjustments for him as come in the film room because although he was an avid-watcher in high school it’s a different ballgame when you get to the college level.
“I definitely have learned a lot more and my mental game has sharpened up a lot,” he said.
Donahue is slated to fill on the of the defensive end spots this coming season but is willing to play wherever the coaches see it best fit. Standing 6-foot-4, 264-pounds, the Ona native is looking forward to fulfilling that childhood dream of not only playing for the Mountaineers but making an impact.
“Instead of just being with the team I want to make an impact and help everybody,” he said. “I want them to help me. I want to make everyone better.”