Continuing in our Way Too Early Depth Chart analysis, today we take a look at the defensive backs.
The secondary was certainly one of the weakest units for the Mountaineers last season. The West Virginia secondary got shredded last season to the tune of 4,063 yards and 38 touchdowns en route to a 108th total defense ranking.
Of course, the short-comings in the passing game are not totally a result of poor play in the secondary, but the play of the WVU corners and safeties was a major component of the faults.
Departures: CB Pat Miller, CB Cecil Level, S Matt Moro, and S Nick Caldwell
Returning: CBs – Broderick Jenkins, Avery Williams, Terrell Chestnut, Nana Twum Agyire, Nana Kyeremeh, Brandon Napoleon, Ricky Rumph, Vernon Davis, Nicardo East, Cecil Level, and Carlton Nash. Ss- Karl Joseph, Darwin Cook, K.J. Dillon, William Marable, Ishmael Banks, Travis Bell, Thomas Chroninger, Mike Hall, and Jarrod Harper.
Recruits: S Malik Greaves, S Jeremy Tyler, and S Daryl Worley
When you look at the Mountaineers depth chart from a season ago, WVU will return three of the four starters from a weak secondary. Another year of experience and another off-season of workouts will hopefully elevate the play of the unit.
One player that Mountaineers fans are expecting to have a break-out 2013 season is sophomore S Karl Joseph. As a freshman, Joseph registered 104 tackles, 1 sack, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. He was the shining star in the back end of the Mountaineers defense and will look to take his game to the next level and become a leader for the young WVU defense.
That was until he got pulled over for underage DUI. The incident will have an effect on Joseph’s availability this spring, but should not be anything to derail his 2013 season outside of the first game or two.
Predicting the 2013 secondary depth chart becomes pretty easy when you assume the three returning starters will hold onto their spots.
FCB: Broderick Jenkins, r-SR, 5’10” 184 lbs; Vernon Davis, SO, 5’10” 175 lbs
FS: Karl Joseph, SO, 5’10” 196 lbs; Ishmael Banks, r-JR, 6’0″ 184 lbs; Travis Bell, SR, 6’1″ 192 lbs
BS: Darwin Cook, r-SR, 5’11” 204 lbs; K.J. Dillon, SO, 6’1″ 202 lbs; Malik Greaves, FR, 6’3″ 200 lbs
BCB: Terrell Chestnut, r-SO, 5’11” 185 lbs; Avery Williams, JR, 5’11” 181 lbs
Terrell Chestnut certainly took his lumps in his first year of action in Morgantown, getting taken advantage of on various big pass plays. Those who have a little bit of memory will recall that Keith Tandy also got picked apart in his freshman season before becoming a reliable cornerback in his sophomore season.
With three starts under his belt, we like Chestnut’s chances to become a fixture in the Mountaineers secondary this season.
Another name to keep your eye on his Vernon Davis. The highly touted transfer from Miami is sure to see time this season in nickel and dime coverage.
One other note about the depth chart projections, we have Travis Bell buried at FS when he was the projected starter at that position last season. This is due in large part to his domestic assault charge that could very well impact his availability this fall.
Overall, the Mountaineers secondary brings a lot of depth back this season and is sure to be improved with another off-season of training under their belts.
For more on the Way Too Early Depth Chart series: