Secondary is prime concern for WVU as No. 2 'Bama looms
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dravon Henry is listed No. 1 at free safety on West Virginia's depth chart heading into the Mountaineers' opener against second-ranked Alabama in Atlanta on Saturday.
Although Henry's ranking does not necessarily impress West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, the true freshman from Aliquippa has come a long way in a short time. Henry participated with teammates in summer workouts and had some contact with the staff, but coaches did not get to take his true measure until the start of preseason camp less than a month ago.
“You forget he's a freshman,” Holgorsen said. “He's the only freshman that we're having this conversation about. Going back to last year and two years ago we were having this conversation about a whole bunch of them. We kind of forget that he's a freshman because he's a mature kid. He's pretty steady.
“He needs to continue to improve, and I think he will. One of the things with true freshmen, with guys you've never put out there before, is what's their demeanor like and how are they gonna respond when there's 70,000 people in the stands and there's a real opponent across the field? Based on what he's done in practice, I think he'll handle it just fine. But we've got to look and see.”
Henry and second-year sophomore Jeremy Tyler, who played in eight games with one start last season, are locked in one of the more interesting position battles.
“We're going to continue to monitor that this week,” said Holgorsen, who acknowledged the media want depth charts, but there is more to it than that.
“I'm going to have this discussion with my team,” he said. “It's about competing for snaps in practice ... throughout the course of the game, throughout film evaluation and moving on to Game 2, as well.”
Meanwhile, another secondary position is in flux after cornerback Icky Banks was suspended for the first three games due to unspecified academic reasons. Holgorsen did not seem overly concerned with losing a fifth-year senior who started all 12 games last season.
“You know, Icky was in a battle for playing time when we pulled him off the field 10 days ago or whatever it was,” Holgorsen said. “(Third-year junior) Terrell Chestnut's been doing well. He's a guy that's been in the program three years. Understands what to do now, is healthy for the first time since he's been here. He was battling for that starting job.”
Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.