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Asti: Top 3 Potential Unsung Heroes for WVU Football in 2023



WVU Football WR Cortez Braham

There are several players who need to have big years for WVU football to have a successful season. And while the impact each player may have can be up for debate, everyone is aware of who those players are. But what about some potential unsung heroes?

After already covering the top three most important players for the Mountaineers in 2023, it’s now time to focus on a few players who don’t garner as much attention, but could step up and really help West Virginia’s cause.

Eddie Vesterinen, DL

Not only is Eddie Vesterinen a player on the rise, but he’s someone fans are going to love rooting for. WVU defensive line coach Andrew Jackson called Vesterinen his most consistent player in the final weeks of fall camp. That right there tells you a lot about how far he has come in a year when no one initially even knew how he would even adapt to the game.

Without Dante Stills, the West Virginia defensive line will rely on others to step up, and even though that will mean Sean Martin likely emerges as the best player on the line, it can also allows others like Vesterinen to break through and become a household name across Mountaineer Nation.

Jacolby Spells, CB

Excuses don’t really matter, but one reason for the struggles of the WVU defense last season, especially the secondary, is it was forced to put players in roles they weren’t ready for. While that was a negative of 2022, it could be a blessing in disguise in 2023.

Cornerback Jacoby Spells fits that bill perfectly and is someone the coaching staff keeps mentioning as a player who they expect to be far better with seasoning under his belt. WVU assistant defensive coordinator ShaDon Brown doubled down on that feeling.

Growth of Jacolby Spells as Player Key for WVU Defense in 2023

“The guy who has probably made the biggest jump in the room is Jacolby Spells,” said Brown.Spells, a three-star recruit out of high school, played in nine games during the 2022 season and already has a big play West Virginia football fans may remember for awhile to his credit. However, despite securing the win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg with an interception, there’s a feeling around the WVU coaching staff that Spells has the talent to be much better than he was throughout his freshman season.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native is now listed at 5-foot-11 and 183 pounds. The extra weight and strength from where he was at this time a year ago may aid him be more prepared for any one-on-one battles with receivers and to stay upright more often.

Cortez Braham, WR

For an offensive player, the incumbent wide receiver still around from 2022 could be that guy. Wide receiver Cortez Braham might not be a player casual fans are even aware of, and that’s not their fault because he hasn’t been used all that much to this point. But for better or worse, that is going to change in 2023.

Devin Carter is West Virginia’s clear number one receiver on the depth chart, but the other spots behind him could all be in flux throughout the season. True freshman like Rodney Gallagher and Traylon Ray will play, but they aren’t ready to elite just yet. Ja’Shaun Poke is fast and can create big plays, but he’s more of a spark plug than a top threat. The offense will utilize tight ends as pass catchers, but that doesn’t mean Kole Taylor is going to be the leading receiver overall. Braham has the chance to be right behind Carter and be another big time target.

WVU WR Cortez Braham Excited for Opportunity to Make Plays, Enjoying Vibe of New Receivers

The senior out of Baltimore, Maryland, who is approaching his second season in West Virginia, also talked about feeling more comfortable with the FBS level of college football. “Stop swimming. Coach (Neal) Brown used to get on me a lot for swimming, exposing yourself,” Braham said about what he learned the most last year.

As a player who started off his college career playing at multiple junior colleges, Braham was asked what the transition has been like jumping from JUCO all the way up to experiencing Big 12 football. Braham responded “it ain’t similar” with a big smirk on his face.

After putting up 14 catches for 147 yards in 2022, Braham is hoping for a bigger role and more opportunities this season. He discussed being fueled by doubters back in the spring.


It’s not as if it’s reasonable to expect these players to all of a sudden be among the very best on the team, but getting increased production from each of them will go a long way towards the Mountaineers silencing their preseason critics and having the type of season the program feels is possible.


For a related story, click here for top three most important players for WVU football this season.

Asti: Top 3 Most Important Players for WVU Football in 2023

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