MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Kenny Bigelow Jr. made his presence known in West Virginia’s season opener against Tennessee.
In his debut in the old gold and blue, the 6-foot-4, 307-pound nose tackle had two solo tackles and a sack while striking fear into his opponents.
“It was basically his first college start, and like anyone, you’re first college start is always exciting,” defensive line coach Bruce Tall said.
From the first snap, Bigelow played with a purpose.
Coming out of high school, the Elkton, Maryland native was a five-star recruit but he was always plagued by injuries at USC, which never let the redshirt senior live up to expectations.
“My thing is, it wasn’t because there was so much talent around me that I couldn’t get on the field,” Bigelow said. “My thing was injuries. My body didn’t allow me to get out there, but I’m healthy now. That was a great motivation for me coming here to not be another one of those five-star guys who never panned out or was on those ‘greatest that never was’ lists.”
Now, in his final year and a new residence, Bigelow is ready to make it count.
“I was very excited to be out there with all those guys,” he said.
This was the moment the senior defensive lineman had been waiting for. For the first time in years, he was healthy and had found a home, the place Bigelow knew he belonged.
“I was working out with a high school teammate when I was home, and I sent some video down,” he said. “I got to talking with some guys. I came down and visited during the spring, and fell in love with it.”
And the Eastern Christian Academy alum was the perfect fit to a depleted d-line.
“He can do it at all times,” defensive end Ezekiel Rose said. “As long as he’s not gassed, he can get it all the time. I think he can do it while he’s gassed, too. He’s actually a really good player. I love watching Kenny play. I was on the sidelines looking at him, and as soon as he came up and did what he did, I said ‘Run that back. Do it again, Kenny.’ A couple plays later he did it again. That’s what I was talking about.”
Even if Bigelow isn’t on the field, he has taken on the role of mentoring the up and comers like Darius and Dante Stills.
“I try my best to help whenever I can,” Bigelow said. “I see the talent in those guys. I see the potential in them. I see a lot of my younger self in both of them – the good and the bad. Whenever I see something, I make sure to say the things that I wish somebody would’ve said to me. I just try to encourage and talk to them when I can.”
It may have taken him six years but Bigelow’s time to shine is now.
Cover Photo Credit: Ashley O’Brien, BGS