MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s VanDarius Cowan, a transfer linebacker from the University of Alabama, has been suspended for the season’s first four games by the NCAA over eligibility issues, a source told 247Sports on Wednesday.
There was no official confirmation from the team.
Cowan, who was slated to be playing the “bandit” position, will miss the James Madison, Missouri and North Carolina State non-conference games as well as the Big 12 opener against Kansas.
Cowan was considered a big catch when he transferred to WVU under then-coach Dana Holgorsen. Cowan came from a top national program after a big time high school career. At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, he came in as a middle linebacker but voluntarily moved to the bandit position in the spring when injuries depleted the position.
However, during the Mountaineers’ fall camp, the team seldom spoke of him as a starting player — an indication it knew what was potentially coming — while Quondarius Qualls moved to the bandit spot and drew rave reviews.
Trouble has followed Cowan throughout his career after he was a 4-star recruit out of Palm Beach Garden High in Florida.
The linebacker was dismissed from his high school team before his season ended, but that did not scare off big time recruiters as he was pursued by such teams as LSU, Ole Miss, Florida State, Miami and Oregon before settling on Alabama.
He played in seven games as a true freshman at Alabama before being dismissed from the team by coach Nick Saban after being arrested for assault, punching a man in a bar.
He sat out last season but apparently never was in the good graces of the new WVU staff.
“There are still some things he’s got to work through to see if he can use that ability,” first-year WVU defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said during the offseason.
He seemed to come around during camp and inside linebackers coach Blake Seiler offered praise for his performance.
“He’s been great,” Seiler said. “It’s been good to see him with the whole summer under his belt at that position. For the first week of fall camp, he’s really starting to feel comfortable and play up to his capability.”