Learning From Mistakes

West Virginia's most veteran defensive players – Darwin Cook and Terence Garvin – weren't even sure a month ago if they'd be on the field for Saturday's game vs. Marshall.

The pair was arrested during the offseason in May for stealing snacks from a local convenience store. It was unlike them, a duo that hasn't been in the doghouse much in its time at WVU.

"I feel like everything happens for a reason. I was this close to not being able to play. I was at my house laying down in my bed just like my freshmen year in high school when I wasn't able to play [because of grades], and I felt like my world was coming to an end," Cook said.

Both players, who have been held out of media interviews since the incident earlier this year, called it a mistake. Garvin also called it dumb.

"It's not something you want to go through, but it showed me how quickly something can go and how quickly you can lose everything," the senior said. "I try to work hard everyday. I try to tell the younger guys to do that, because you might not be able to tomorrow."

Head coach Dana Holgorsen said at his news conference this week that the situation has been handled "a long time ago."

"We've had lots of talks with them and lots of early morning workouts with them to see if they wanted to be here, and they've done everything that they've been asked to do," he said. "They're guys with a lot of experience that have been stepping up in the front lines and two of the guys that we're counting on to be leaders of this defense, let alone the football team. I'm proud of how those guys responded, and they've done everything we've asked them to do."

It was never a decision about what the two would do to get back into the good graces of the coaching staff and their teammates. They would do just about anything anyone asked of them.

"We went through a lot. [Holgorsen] just made us realize what a great chance we have being here at West Virginia. It's a blessing. I smile everytime I wake up," Cook said. "It's a blessing from God."

Both players said their friendship and their families were the two constants that kept their heads on straight from the time of the incident.

"My parents still believed in me and told me all the things I wanted to hear. I haven't looked back since," Cook said.

Garvin added: "You have to keep your faith and pray. I talked to my mom and dad everyday in the summer. Everyday now. I pray everyday. You have to keep your spirits high. My parents got me through it. If it wasn't for them and my faith, I would probably be back home now."

Nevertheless, they're back.

Garvin is by far the most veteran member of this year's defense. He has 24 starts at safety over the last two seasons. Now, under the new 3-4 scheme, Garvin has been moved to linebacker where he will get the start once again.

It will not be without transition, however.

While Garvin had been used at a linebacker-type position in the 3-3-5 at times, he was still more comfortable further back in the defense. This year, it's likely Garvin will spend the majority of his time in the middle of the defense instead of the secondary – and he's getting used to that prospect.

"There are some differences, but for the most part I'm just in the box a bit more," Garvin said. "I try to be versatile and play wherever I'm needed … At the end of the day, it's football."

And remember that Garvin missed the Orange Bowl due to shoulder surgery and all of spring practice. So, he hasn't taken a live snap of football in a game in nine months.

"I feel like it's been forever," he said. "I feel like I've matured so much this offseason. I just went through a lot. It made me who I am now. I'm a different person than I was last year. I carry myself different. I act different. I had to grow up quickly."

Cook hasn't had as rough of an offseason. There wasn't a surgery or recovery that he had to go through, but there were the legal troubles.

Everyone will forever remember him for his 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the 70-33 Orange Bowl victory in January, but he also finished with more than 80 tackles as a sophomore and is six short of 100 tackles for his career in just 13 career starts.

In a span of less than four months, Cook and Garvin went from the lowest of lows to leaders heading into Saturday's game vs. Marshall.

"I always wanted to be a leader … I'm working to get everyone's trust and become a better leader everyday," Garvin said. "I'm just happy to be here. I'm just happy to have a game on Saturday."

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