As we head into the last week before official Week 1 of the season, we continue our 2023 pre-season coverage of the West Virginia Mountaineers. So far, we have looked at quarterbacks, wide receivers, offensive line, defensive line, tight ends, safeties, and linebackers. Now, we provide our WVU 2023 cornerback preview.
2023 WVU Cornerback Preview
In 2021, ShaDon Brown left Louisville to join West Virginia University as the co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs. Adding to this position, he has taken on the responsibility of assistant coach. In his three years with WVU, Brown has had his defensive secondary score three touchdowns, ranked number two in the Big 12 and number 12 nationally. In his first year with the program, they were tied for number two in the Big 12 for interceptions and number three in passing defense.
This season, the 2023 WVU cornerback position has much room for growth. With only three returning players, new faces from the portal, and a couple of freshmen being thrown into the mix, Brown is surely working on a way to round out the room.
With the loss of Charles Woods, Rashad Ajayi, Wesley McCormick, and Tyrin Woodby to the transfer portal, the returning few will have something to prove. Andrew Wilson-Lamp, a redshirt freshman, played 11 games in the 2022 season, including a starting position against Oklahoma State. Wilson-Lamp amassed nine total tackles, four assists, and five solo tackles during the previous season. This is an improvement from his first season in 2021, where he had one tackle, (a solo tackle), and managed to participate in five games.
With five starts and 33 career games, Malachi Ruffin will be a Redshirt Senior during the 2023 season. He first saw action during the 2022 season, playing in 10 games. As each year has come and gone, Ruffin has improved consistently. For his career, he has 40 tackles, 26 solo tackles, 14 assists, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery. In his first season, with 10 games, he had four tackles, versus last season with 26 total tackles. The improvement is there, but the potential for something greater is on the horizon for Ruffin.
Jacolby Spells, coming into his sophomore season, is the other returner. He played in nine games last year, seeing actions in 245 plays total. Spells recorded 13 tackles, four assists, and nine solo, with one interception for 27 yards resulting in a touchdown. While these three may be duking it out for a starting position, those who transferred in during the off-season might give them a run for their money.
Transfer Portal Additions
Montre Miller will have something to prove as one of the two transfers two WVU after the 2022 season. As a redshirt senior from Kent State, Miller will be looking for playing time. During the 2022 season, Miller started all 12 games for the Golden Flashes with 52 total tackles, 40 solo, 12 assists, one forced fumble, and two interceptions. This brings his career total to 115 tackles, 91 solo tackles, 24 assists, two forced fumbles, and six interceptions.
Hailing from Louisville, KY, Beanie Bishop Jr. entered the transfer portal from Minnesota in the off-season. He only spent one year with the program after spending his first four seasons with Western Kentucky. Bishop Jr. has 103 tackles, 79 solo tackles, 24 assists, one sack, one forced fumble, and three interceptions for his career.
With his addition, this rounds out the cornerback room with five athletes who have extensive experience in the position. The battle for starting positions and playing time will be intense this year, especially as the season unfolds.
2023 WVU Newcomers
Incoming freshman for the cornerback room this year includes Josiah Jackson, Jordan Jackson, Jayden Bell, and Quayvon Cyrus, a Parkersburg, West Virginia native.
Photo courtesy: BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK