Mountaineers’ 2020 Cornerback Preview
We conclude our West Virginia pre-season positional preview series with our Mountaineers’ 2020 cornerback preview.
Previewing a Set of Unknowns
Of all the position groups on the team, cornerback remains the one with the most unknowns. Only two returnees logged snaps in 2019. Nicktroy Fortune played in 11 games and accumulated 312 snaps. Tae Mayo, on the other hand, played in only one game. No other cornerback on the roster has played Division I football. That leaves a lot of uncertainty with this unit.
To be sure, Head Coach Neal Brown set out to recruit a trio of very promising young cornerbacks to fill out his 2020 recruiting class. The staff added David Okoli, a highly-touted four-star prospect out of Maryland. They also added European standout Jairo Faverus, whose measurables compare favorably to almost any cornerback in the entire 2020 class. Finally, they added Darryl Porter, a slightly undersized but shifty corner with plus ball skills.
Four-star former SEC commit Dreshun Miller rounds out the room. Miller was expected to back up one or both of Hakeem Bailey and Keith Washington last season, but he suffered an off-season injury costing him his season. While the injury leaves the room without another experienced body, it also gave Miller an extra year of eligibility. This might prove to be a gift horse for the Mountaineers heading into the next two seasons.
While the Mountaineers lack experienced depth at the position, they have seven players to compete for two starting spots. In other words, they have the bodies to build a three-deep. Looking forward, only one of those (Miller) is an upperclassman. As such, the players know that they are competing for long-term spots. That should help the group develop quickly.
Projecting the Two-Deep
We would expect Fortune and Miller to earn the two starting cornerback spots. On film, Miller reminds us a lot of Rasul Douglas, and, given Miller’s injury and his chance to develop and learn the defense, Miller could easily step in and immediately fill Washington’s shoes. If he ends up being the lockdown corner Douglas proved to be, then West Virginia will have upgraded the position. Fortune has the most experience of the group, and he should hold onto a starting spot as a result.
Okoli and Mayo seem likely to capture their backup spots. Okoli possesses the speed, smarts, and footwork to develop into an all-timer for West Virginia. Mayo has a year under his belt and has adjusted to the increased pace of the college game.
That said, while raw given the level of talent in Europe, Faverus could come on very quickly into the season and challenge not only for a backup spot but even for a starting nod. He certainly has the tools. Tacorey Turner and Porter will also vulture some snaps throughout the season, as the staff will look to build depth and healthy competition between the group.
Despite the immediately apparent lack of experience and depth, the cornerback position promises to be one of the most intriguing position battles this season. If that competition produces the intended result, the group could end up being a highlight for the 2020 Mountaineers.