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Final Grades: WVU Cornerbacks Quietly Held Their Own in 2020

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WVU cornerback Alonzo Addae celebrates an interception against Kansas. (photo via WVU Athletics/Ben Queen - USA Today Sports)

This will be an ongoing series with WVSN’s Cody Nespor and Tom Bragg grading the performance of each position group during the 2020 West Virginia University football season.

Previous grades: quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line and linebackers. Today we look at the WVU cornerbacks:

CODY NESPOR:

Having to replace both of your outside starting corners in a pass-happy league like the Big 12 is a scary position to be in. Having to replace them with guys who have barely played before makes it even scarier. Despite being in this unenviable position in 2020, West Virginia actually had solid corner play throughout the 2020 season.

There were exactly two career Division-I starts between Dreshun Miller and Nicktroy Fortune coming into 2020, both belonging to Fortune. Fortune, a sophomore, had a limited role as a true freshman in 2019 while Miller, a former junior college transfer, missed all of 2019 with an injury. To say there were question marks surrounding the position would be an understatement. To their credit, however, Fortune and Miller both turned in very solid performances this season. 

WVU has the best pass defense in the Big 12 in 2020, allowing just 159.6 passing yards per game. The Mountaineers were the only team to allow an average of less than 200. The only knock on WVU’s corners I think is valid is a lack of splash plays. Miller and Fortune both had just one interception this season while Miller had nine pass defenses and Fortune had three.

With both Miller and Fortune expected to return and a solid 2020 to build on, I have high expectations for these two moving forward.

Grade: B

TOM BRAGG:

It felt like Miller and Fortune were hidden in plain sight for long stretches this season, and that is a good thing. West Virginia’s defense was obviously very good in 2020 and the corners played their part well.

WVU’s cornerbacks were not flashy with big stats — as Cody mentioned they each only had one interception this season — but their names were not called often for getting burned either so you win some you lose some there.

Fortune and Miller were collectively very inexperienced coming into this season, but proved they can hang at this level while newcomer Alonzo Addae — the nephew of co-defensive coordinator Jahmile Addae and a senior who sat out 2019 as a transfer — made plays with two interceptions and five pass break-ups.

Good, not great. No real negative marks here, just nothing that jumps off the page at you.

GRADE: B

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Tom Bragg covers WVU, Marshall, high schools and other sports for West Virginia Sports Now. Tom spent more than a decade as a sports journalist based in West Virginia covering high school, college, youth and professional sports for newspapers in Huntington, Fairmont and Charleston before joining WVSN in 2020. Tom is a graduate of Marshall University's W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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