These two latest WVU football transfer portal additions could help transform the defense.

In a huge move, WVU snagged Northwestern standout defensive backs Jaheem Joseph and Garnett Hollis Jr. to begin the week.

Recent WVU transfer portal commit Garnett Hollis Jr. suited up for Northwestern last fall.
Recent WVU transfer portal commit Garnett Hollis Jr. suited up for Northwestern last fall. / John Fisher/GettyImages

The West Virginia football team has kicked off the week with a bang -- and it will likely result in a big change in on-field defensive production in 2024.

On Monday, former Northwestern defensive back Jaheem Joseph announced via X/Twitter that he was transferring to WVU for the 2024 season, adding a new face to a position group that struggled with depth last fall.

And it just so happens that he won't be coming alone.

On Tuesday, fellow Northwestern defensive back Garnett Hollis Jr. announced he would follow his teammate to Morgantown.

While neither Joseph or Hollis Jr. have a ton of national buzz surrounding their names, their addition to the program should not be overlooked.

Last season, Northwestern finished the season ranked 15th in the nation in passing yards allowed, giving up just 182.9 yards through the air. In addition, they finished tied for 25th in the country in total interceptions recorded.

West Virginia, on the other hand, had less success defending against the pass. The Mountaineers were a dismal 85th nationwide in passing yards allowed (237.4 per game) and tied for 52nd in interceptions.

Both Joseph and Hollis Jr. played a prominent role in Northwestern’s stout pass defense last season, as they each registered playing time in all 13 games. 

Joseph managed 24 tackles and one pass breakup on the season and also nabbed three interceptions. He ended the Northwestern era of his career in style with two interceptions in a 14-7 bowl win over incoming Big 12 program Utah. 

Evan Smith, Jaheem Joseph
Jaheem Joseph. / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

After that game, Joseph talked about just how first-year Northwestern coach David Braun’s defensive approach developed his skill as a ballhawk.

“When bringing in (Braun’s) new system, it was always a heavy emphasis on eyes on the ball,” Joseph said. “We work on it in practice drills, turnover circuit every Thursday before practice…it’s drilled into our mindset of find ball, get ball.”

Meanwhile, Hollis Jr. tallied 49 tackles, three pass breakups, and one interception during his 2023 campaign. Following Northwestern’s win over Purdue last fall, Braun heaped praise upon Hollis Jr. and his teammates Rod Heard II and Bryce Gallagher.

“Those are three names that (any NFL team) would not be crazy to have on their teams,” Braun said. “They embody what it looks like to play the game the right way.”

What may prove most valuable about the addition of Joseph and Hollis Jr. may be their experience. Each brings first-hand knowledge of what it takes to see playing time in the Big 10, one of the top-tier football conferences at the FBS level. Not only that, but they proved they know how to win at that level. Having those types of players could prove invaluable for the Mountaineer defense, allowing them to play a similar role as consensus All-American Beanie Bishop did this past fall.