Spring practice is a time when veteran players can fine tune their skills for the upcoming season. With the WVU football team, this time of the year also presents a challenge to some fringe players hoping to crack the starting rotation.
One of the more highly-contested position battles this spring comes at the cornerback position.
With this position, though, it’s not as if there is some underclassmen ready to make the jump to the top spot of the depth chart. Rather, the Mountaineers have the luxury of two experienced players proving their worth.
Rasul Douglas and Antonio Crawford are both redshirt seniors who will see a lot of playing time for the West Virginia defense in the 2016 season. Just how much playing time will be determined by their performance in the spring practice sessions, which are now drawing to a close.
Douglas and Crawford have 49 games played at the Division I level between them. Of that, only 11 games were played with the WVU football team. Both Douglas and Crawford are transfers who had a wealth of experience at their previous schools.
Douglas has been with the Mountaineers since 2015, coming over from Nasau Community College, where he played two seasons. Douglas saw playing time fairly quickly in his first season with the Mountaineers, recording eight tackles on the year. He played on defense, as well as special teams and saw his most plays (60) in game action in a loss at Baylor.
Crawford, meanwhile, is a year removed from playing in a competitive football game.
He transferred over from the University of Miami and sat out last season due to transfer rules. If his play with the Hurricanes is any indication of how he’ll perform at WVU, head coach Dana Holgorsen and cornerbacks coach Blue Adams are in for a treat.
Crawford recorded 58 tackles in three seasons, where he started two games over that span. In his last game with Miami, the Independence Bowl against South Carolina, he had three solo tackles.
He mainly appeared on special teams with the Hurricanes and will be seeking a much more expanded role with the WVU football team in this, his senior season.
According to Blue Gold News, “Crawford seems to be a little more comfortable playing in press coverage, and recovers perhaps just a bit more quickly. Douglas has great size and leverage, and can dictate against some routes. Assistant coach Blue Adams was watching both intently during the session, and each got appreciable snaps with the first team. Going against (wide receiver Shelton) Gibson, they were tested deep often. Expect even more competition when another wave of newcomers arrives for fall practice.”
Adams arrived in Morgantown in March after a wealth of experience coaching in the secondary at the collegiate and professional level. In what was a home run hire for WVU, Adams’ efforts will pay dividends as he can instill a lot of knowledge into these players.
Most recently, Blue was coaching with the Miami Dolphins. Having a slight connection with Crawford (who played in the same city as the Dolphins) may give him the upperhand in this position battle.