WVU's Holgorsen: Freshman Henry 'ahead of curve'
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Only one first-year freshman appeared on the depth chart Thursday on the first day of West Virginia's fall football practice. But Ricky Rogers, from Gateway, had an advantage. He graduated early and participated in spring drills. He is expected to provide depth to a sizable group of wide receivers that includes several veterans.
Free safety Dravon Henry, meanwhile, took the more conventional path, graduating from Aliquippa in the spring. His name was absent from the two-deep listing at free safety. But he quickly made an impression during the summer in unsupervised 7-on-7 drills and supervised workouts without the football.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen reiterated his statement last week at Big 12 media days that Henry is “in the mix” as a starter.
“We were unable to work (with the ball), but we were able to meet with him, go outside, be part of the conditioning, change of direction stuff,” Holgorsen said after practice Thursday. “We were able to do some specific technique stuff with him.
“He's big and fast and changes direction good and has a good mentality and picks things up pretty quick. He's ahead of the curve for a true freshman.”
Henry was taken under the collective wing of the secondary, notably veterans Karl Joseph, KJ Dillon and Daryl Worley, who played primarily at safety as a freshman in 2013 and is expected to be a marquee player at cornerback this season.
“He's ahead of where I was last year, just because of the 7-on-7,” Worley told West Virginia Illustrated at Big 12 media days. “He's covering so much ground. Even if a corner does get beat, he's right over the top. He's a guy that we can instill our trust in that he's going to be behind us.”
Since he is a freshman, Henry was not made available by West Virginia for interviews.
Listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Henry was a four-star recruit, according to Rivals.com, who also rated him as the second best player in the state. He picked WVU over Pitt, among other schools.
Playing both ways, Henry rushed for more than 5,000 yards. But his future was better suited to defense.
“”He's an exceptional athlete,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said in a phone interview earlier in the week. “Very strong. He's exceptionally alert, and he loves to play the game.”
Off the field, “He's a great kid with great character,” Zmijanac said. “He's a tough kid, but he's not a street kid. A good, solid, B student. One thing about him I can say is that he'll always be at the right place at the right time. He'll be on time. He'll be at every meeting and study session.”
Note: West Virginia will hold its annual football Fan Day from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Aug. 10 in the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility. WVU players and coaches will be on hand to sign autographs. Fans will be limited to one autograph item.
Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.