Offensive lineman Doug Nester wanted a fresh start, and his home state West Virginia football program was there with open arms to provide it.
Nester, who played over 1,000 snaps in two years with Virginia Tech, elected to leave the program due to his relationship deteriorating with the coaching staff. A contributing factor to that was the Hokies decision to rotate him in and out of the line without ever providing any reasoning.
The Spring Valley product was offered by the Mountaineers out of high school, but never really considered the program after then running backs coach JaJuan Seider left for Florida. Still, the effort that then head coach Neal Brown made when he took the job in January of 2019 resonated with him.
“Their first stop was to me and Darnell (Wright) back in Huntington. That was pretty big and played a big role in me coming back here,” he said.
The other factor was that Nester had several former high school teammates in Morgantown such as his best friend wide receiver Graeson Malashevich, freshman offensive lineman Wyatt Milum and running back Owen Chafin. So, when it came time to decide he didn’t have to wander very far.
“It was a pretty obvious choice for me to come to,” he said.
Nester arrived in Morgantown in January and immediately the expectations were that he would assume a starting role on the Mountaineers offensive line. But he didn’t want anything handed to him and took the spring to make sure that his teammates knew that.
“I try to be a humble guy, but I’ve got to have that confidence that I am a first team guy. And coming into here I wanted to try to prove that to everybody and not just be given a spot,” he said. “That definitely includes myself. I wanted to prove it to everybody here and myself.”
Before he could do that, Nester had to acclimate himself to the differences between what he was accustomed to at Virginia Tech and what he was stepping into at West Virginia. It’s a different offense and Nester basically treated it as if he was an incoming freshman all over again.
That required learning what was expected of him, building trust with his teammates and learning the detail-oriented style that offensive line coach Matt Moore teaches.
“Coach does a lot more with the finer details of my game with what I need to improve,” he said.
The in-state lineman also was able to add more strength to his frame through the conditioning program and quickly became comfortable enough with those around him to offer his own tips.
“Once I got comfortable with everybody and everybody got comfortable with me I tried to give tips and stuff that I learned the two seasons I had in college,” he said.
Nester spent the spring working at both guard and tackle but has since settled into one of the guard spots. That is what he believes is a more natural fit for him and has allowed him to find his comfort level on the practice field and in the meeting rooms.
“I think it’s definitely easier than tackle because you’re on an island all the time out there but also I’ve been playing guard ever since I was seven years old,” he said. “It’s always been my more comfortable position. It’s definitely raw strength at guard.”
It’s taken some time, but Nester now is confident in his role with his new team. And is excited to showcase what he can do on the football field this coming fall.
Who says you can’t come home?