VanDarius Cowan has not played in a college football game in more than 600 days. That changed this past weekend.
Fourteen months ago, Cowan enrolled at WVU. Since then, 18 West Virginia football games — spanning over two different seasons — have kicked off and met their final whistle. Cowan has been sidelined for each and every one.
In Saturday’s 42-31 loss to Texas — Cowan’s first game donning West Virginia’s old gold and blue — the edge linebacker came up with four total tackles including a sack.
“It was good to have at least one guy that could come in and back-up the Bandit position,” defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said.
The road Cowan took to Morgantown is not one that is often traveled.
A 2017 high school graduate, he was a highly touted recruit coming out of Palm Beach Gardens High School in Florida. Cowan had initially committed to the University of Alabama, where he spent his first year in college.
In his true freshman season with the Crimson Tide, Cowan appeared in half of the team’s 14 games. Despite tallying only two tackles that season, he was a key part of defensive plans for the following year.
However, in July of 2018, Cowan was dismissed from Alabama after the then 19-year-old was charged with misdemeanor assault after he allegedly punched a patron at a Tuscaloosa bar.
“Each of us has a responsibility to represent The University of Alabama in a first-class way, and failure to meet those standards can’t be tolerated,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said in a statement.
The following month, Cowan enrolled at West Virginia. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he was forced to sit out the entire 2018 season.
After going through 2019 spring practice, that time off became four games longer as, in August of this year, Cowan was suspended by the NCAA due to eligibility issues.
Once the calendar flipped to October, Cowan was officially able to see gameday from between the hashes once again. Yet, the coaching staff is still looking to solidify his role.
“We obviously don’t know yet what he does best,” Koenning said. “He’s got some football instincts, so sometimes it’s important to have a guy that’s just got really good instincts.”