MORGANTOWN - Former Mingo Central Miner Daniel Buchanan is entering his third season for the West Virginia Mountaineer football program, and even though it feels like he has been there forever, he has his best football ahead of him.
The 6'4" 304 pound preferred walk-on came to Morgantown as a defensive end but he has made the transition over to the offensive line last season.
"I'm still over on the offensive side this year, I'm working at left tackle, "Buchanan said. "Right now I know it seems like I've been here a while myself, but I'm still considered a young guy. I'm just going to be a redshirt-sophomore this season and a most of the guys in front of me are NFL bound. We have a lot of older guys starting on the line this year."
"I've been blessed honestly, because I get to learn from those guys, I get to be around those guys, and see how they do things so I can mimic that. Just learn to work how they work so that I can get to where they are right now. "
Buchanan and the rest of the Mountaineers have went through a big change this offseason as head coach Neal Brown has taken over for former head man Dana Holgorsen and is looking to change the entire culture in Morgantown.
"It's day and night different from what we were experiencing just a few months ago, it's almost like an overhaul of the old traditions and the old way we did things to what's going on now, especially with the playbook and the style of play" Buchanan said. "Everybody has been trying to make that transition and trying to learn as quickly and as effectively as they can."
The Gilbert native said that the Mountaineers and athletic director Shane Lyons found a diamond in the rough when they grabbed coach Brown from Troy, but sees a bright future for the Big 12 power.
"It's going to take some time; you can't achieve greatness in a short amount of time. But as time goes on coach Brown and his staff are going to instill the traditions and the things they expect of the program and attract kids to come here that want to buy into that. I think we have a very bright future, I hope our fans know it may take a little time but I really think we got a good one in coach Brown and the rest of the staff."
The Mountaineers lost a handful of starters from the 8-4 squad a season ago including QB Will Grier, wide receivers David Sills and Gary Jennings, offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste, tight end Travon Wesco, and linebacker David Long to the NFL Draft as well as wide out Marcus Simms, and defensive backs Kenny Robinson and Derrek Pitts to transfer.
Buchanan described the atmosphere around the program as being much more family oriented and said he along with the other players have one-on-one meetings with coach Brown and other members of the staff every 2-3 weeks.
"We're all working hard, not only on the field but off the field with academics," Buchanan said. "Not only that. We are doing a lot more work out in the community now. Coach has really instilled that he wants us to be one with the community; he wants us to give back. We went and visited the kids at Ruby Memorial Hospital, we picked up some trash along the roads, and it just seems like every other week we are out trying to have an impact on the community. "
The 2017 Mingo Central graduate was a part of the Miners only state championship in school history back in 2016 when they went 14-0 and won the Class AA State Title with a 32-7 win over Fairmont Senior.
He spent the early part of his high school career at Man playing for the Hillbillies and says he still receives tons of support from down in the southern coalfields.
"When you come from a small town like I do you receive a lot of support, I get messages all the time from people from southern West Virginia and even central West Virginia that want me to do good just because I'm an in-state kid. That really means a lot to me and I want to thank those people for always supporting me and wishing me the best."
Buchanan and the Mountaineers will play the first game of the Neal Brown era on August 31 at home against James Madison.
Jarrid McCormick is a sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.