With the opening of Fall camp on Sunday, it’s officially time to welcome in the 2017 football season for the Mountaineers. And despite the numerous questions hovering over Tony Gibson’s young defense, one thing is certain. West Virginia will trot out the best pair of safeties in the Big XII.
Dravon Askew-Henry is returning from an ACL tear he suffered this time a year ago. Since arriving to Morgantown in 2014 as a 4-star recruit, he has started 26 games and has recorded 104 tackles, 3 interceptions and 6 pass breakups. It is rare for a true freshman to come in and start every game of his career, but Askew-Henry is a special talent that has been hard to leave off the field. So special in fact, that I do not expect Dravon to return in 2018. I believe he is primed for a huge year and will gain even more interest from NFL scouts. Dravon has already begun receiving attention by being named to the preseason watchlists for the Bednarik and Thorpe awards.
The other returning piece of this tandem is senior Kyzir White. White started 12 games a year ago and was one of the Mountaineers’ best pure tacklers and covermen. White really made his name known when he hammered Texas QB Shane Buechele for a sack while forcing and recovering the fumble. Some fans look at the No.8 and immediately think of Karl Joseph, and it is hard not to compare the two when White delivers terrifying blows, but he is his own player. In his first season as a Mountaineer, he recorded 58 tackles, 7 TFL and 2 forced fumbles. He also has NFL scouts drooling at his versatility and His 6’2″ 220lb frame. Kyzir was also named to the preseason watchlist for the Bednarik Award.
Can this be the best safety tandem in the Big 12? Certainly.
Other tandems that will give competition are Duke Shelley and D.J. Reed of Kansas State and Nick Orr/Ranthony Texada of TCU. These two other combos are fairly good, but it does not oust that of West Virginia’s. Note that White and Askew-Henry have yet to play on the same field together, but once they do no one will forget, especially Big 12 quarterbacks.