Mitchell: Better Depth, Better Ability

Cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell oversaw a unit that struggled with injuries and depth at key points in a trying 2013 season. Now, the Mountaineers are primed with better numbers and increased overall talent, and should be able to better match the Big 12 passing attacks. Here, Mitchell runs down some aspects of play and what he views as keys entering the spring.

Mitchell, a defensive coordinator at East Carolina from 2010-12, had a trying time last season as his unit was hit hard by injuries and had to battle through a down, though never out, Big 12 in terms of quarterbacks and the passing game. The entire unit should benefit from better safety numbers, which will allow Daryl Worley to likely start spring drills as a corner.

The 6-1, 200-pounder began his WVU career at the corner spot, but was moved to safety when the numbers thinned considerably. Worley finished with 45 tackles, with five pass break-ups and a pick. He could be shifted back around pending injuries, but the mantra for new coordinator Tony Gibson is to keep as many players in a single position as possible, allowing them to maximize time and experience.

Mitchell, below, outlines some of the differences in what he taught last season and what will be the details this spring, and the level of player experience that allows him to do that.

Perhaps the frontrunner for a starting spot is Icky Banks, as the 6-0, 180-pounder already has played in 36 career games and started each contest in the field spot last year. Travis Bell was the other starter the majority of the year, and finished with 45 tackles and one pick before Worley took over at the position. But an off-field transgression has left his status as insecure, as he tries to work back into form in the spring. Nana Kyeremeh also figures in after a stellar true freshman season in 2012 which he amassed 11 tackles while playing in all 13 games. Kyeremeh, who has been cleared to practice this spring, missed all of the 2013 season after a preseason injury caused him to miss fall camp and, eventually, take a medical redshirt.

Another player working back off an injury is Terrell Chestnut. The 5-10, 185-pound junior saw action in 10 games last season, but never seemed to reach full go after a knee injury just prior to the Pinstripe Bowl in 2012. Brandon Napoleon, a converted high school quarterback entering his sophomore season, and junior college transfer Keishawn Richardson also figure into the mix. Napoleon likely needs another season to hone the finer details of the position, but Richardson, at 5-9, 170 pounds the smallest WVU corner, seems primed for time after tallying 39 tackles, nine pass break-ups and two interceptions.

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