A pair of players from the Mountain State were named among the top returners in college by Pro Football Focus this week. West Virginia University safety Tykee Smith and Marshall offensive lineman Cain Madden were both identified as top returners at their positions heading into 2021.
Smith is coming off of a break-out 2020 season in which he was named an AP Third Team All-American and an All-Big 12 honorable mention. PFF listed him as the no. 5 returning defensive back next season.
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 24, 2021
Smith finished fourth on the Mountaineers with 61 total tackles with eight tackles for loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups. He will be a third-year sophomore in 2021.
Smith’s 2020 campaign was a sight to behold. He was targeted 38 times in coverage across 10 games and allowed just 110 yards for the season. He did not give up a single explosive pass play of 15 or more yards while making five plays on the ball and forcing 10 passing stops.
Similarly, Madden was named an AP Second Team All-American and First Team All-Conference USA at right guard for the Thundering Herd.
Madden has started on Marshall’s offensive line for three seasons and will return as a sixth-year senior in 2021. He helped the Thundering Herd average 178.4 rushing yards per game in 2020 and did not allow a single sack, according to PFF. He was listed as the no. 6 returning offensive lineman, regardless of position.
PFF called Madden “easily the best all-around non-Power Five offensive lineman” returning to college football in 2021.