Jeremy Tyler and Brandon Jackson might be members of the same odd stack defense that coordinator Tony Gibson will unleash within the month. But the players have far different comfort levels, as Tyler enters his sophomore season as a solid fortifier to a deep secondary, while Jackson settles in at his new slot along the defensive front.
Tyler, who played in six games last year, started one, managed 17 tackles, including three for loss, while adjusting to the pace and rigors of Big 12 competition. Now, the 6-0, 195-pounder says he feels like a completely different player, and he has begun to show the deeper mental understanding Gibson's defense requires to play at the breakneck pace the first-year coordinator desires. Here, Tyler delves into that understanding, how he has elevated himself physically and his most significant progress from year one to two.
For Jackson, a 6-3, 340-pound junior who flipped to the defensive side of the ball after three seasons on the offensive line, this camp will be primarily about learning new techniques from head and hand placement to initial steps and angles of pursuit. The St. Edwards (Ohio) grad primarily manned the guard spot on offense during his first years at WVU, and figures to provide depth at one end spot or, perhaps, nose at a future point. For now, Jackson isn't at square one, but he isn't ready to play significant snaps, either. The hope is at some point, he can gain enough knowledge and ability to begin to work into giving the Mountaineers a handful of snaps per game. Jackson, below, talks about what spurred the position change and developing as a player under legendary coach Tom Bradley.