Inexperience not a concern for Mountaineer secondary in 2012
Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012
Updated: Sunday, August 26, 2012 23:08
Though youth is plentiful in the West Virginia secondary, cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts isn’t worried. Age and experience may be typical ways to measure a player’s preparedness and ability to play a position, but Roberts primarily looks for just one thing: covering deep passes.
"(Youth) is not a concern to me, because I am looking for guys that can cover the deep ball downfield," he said. "They can be 12 or 21 years old – I don’t care."
A pair of true freshmen defensive backs have answered Roberts’ call and have positioned themselves to make an impact from the West Virginia secondary this fall.
Nana Kyeremeh and Ricky Rumph have captured the attention of fellow players and coaches this summer and could begin doing the same to Mountaineer fans early this season.
Rumph, a native of Daytona Beach, Fla., has used his resilience and consistent level of play to catch the eye of Roberts, his position coach.
"(Rumph) has shown a lot of toughness, because he didn’t know he was going to be playing for West Virginia two months ago," he said. "I feel like he has at least earned an opportunity to show himself on the field.He has been consistent. We are going to give him some reps, and it is our hope that he can contribute early in the season," he said.
Kyeremeh, who hails from Worthington, Ohio, is listed with Rumph in the two-deep lineup of the West Virginia secondary. His natural athleticism and build helped put him on Roberts’ radar.
"(Coach Roberts) told me one time, ‘Put your arms out.’ He said I have God-given abilities, and it is my physical stature – and once I know how to play with it, it will be good to see," he said.
Though both are still unproven, Roberts stands by his claim that if a player can defend long passes, he will see the field.
"If they can cover the deep ball, they are going to get a chance to play. The young guys, especially Kyeremeh and Rumph, have shown us some things," he said.
"We haven’t been in a real game environment with 65,000 people, but I haven’t seen either one of them have a situation get too big for them. With each practice, they have shown they can handle a heavy load."
With returning starters in redshirt junior Brodrick Jenkins and senior Pat Miller, the cornerbacks unit has a solid veteran base from which to grow. The Mountaineers will also look to sophomore Avery Williams and true freshman Brandon Napoleon for further depth at cornerback.
Another pair of true freshmen in the secondary – this time at safety – have also made a name for themselves amongst their peers.
Karl Joseph (Orlando, Fla.) and K.J. Dillon (Apopka, Fla.) have benefitted from practicing against players such as redshirt junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey, who has seen up close what the two safeties are capable of.
"Those guys will compete; they look good, and they understand the game of football pretty well," he said.
"I would think that they are getting the defense down pretty (well), and as a result, that is why those guys are out there with these ones."
Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Joe DeForest pointed to West Virginia’s explosive offense as the key for the quick development of the freshmen.
"They are getting used to the speed of the game against one of the best offenses in the country – and that’s what excites me," he said.
"They get to see (senior wide receiver) Tavon Austin every day. Is there a guy out there better than that to practice against each and every day?
"Karl Joseph gets up there in one-on-one against (Austin) every day because he wants to get better. That’s awesome," he said.
With redshirt junior Darwin Cook, redshirt sophomore Ishmael Banks and senior Matt Moro all returning, the Mountaineers will have a healthy amount of depth to use throughout the season.