Tyrek Cole is West Virginia's fifth verbal commitment from Miramar High in the class of 2015, and that, plus the connection to current WVU assistant (and former Patriot head coach) Damon Cogdell are the story lines most will follow. Beyond that, though, are Cole's natural abilities as a pass defender, which made him a highly regarded target with offers from more than 20 schools.
WHAT TO LIKE: Cole has a slender build that's made for running and reacting -- twin talents upon which his play is built. When opposing receivers make a move, he is quick to respond, and usually is able to track his opponent without losing contact. Coupled with excellent closing speed, he can make up ground when the ball is in the air, and is very difficult to maintain separation from.
The senior corner also has long arms, which he employs well in coverage off the line. He is good at gaining leverage against his opponents to disrupt routes, and his superior reach allows him to knock away passes that might get by other defenders of similar height. He also displays good instincts in reading routes and beating receivers to the ball, and shows aggressive flashes in undercutting routes to knock away or intercept passes.
While the term "shutdown corner" is often overused, Cole has the ability to be a player around which pass coverages can be planned. If he continues to develop and works hard on refining his techniques, he might often be able to handle opposing receivers one-on-one, or not require over the top help in many situations.
While his height is good, Cole will likely need to add strength in order to combat some of the bigger wideouts he'll face in college. He shouldn't have any problem matching his opponents' speed and quickness right away, but bigger and stronger receivers (think Kevin White) might be able to outmuscle him early on. That's not to say, however, that he avoids contact. He will come up and help in run support, and isn't and grab and hold tackler. He shoots out and will deliver a hit with impact. He'll just need a bit more power behind it in college.
Also to watch is the way in which Cole and his current Miramar teammates approach their first season at WVU. There's no doubt that each of the five current Patriots are Division I level players. Multiple scholarship offers across the group, plus a good fit of skill sets which match West Virginia's offensive and defensive systems, attest to that. However, there will clearly be a bit of a different dynamic when this class arrives on campus, with one-fifth of it comprised of high school teammates. How will the group react? Will they develop into leaders and provide a core aroungd which future teams are built?
As the #12 rated cornerback in the nation by Scout.com, there aren't many holes to pick in Cole's game. He is confident in his abilities, and is already planning to make an impact at WVU early in his career. While there might be some slight concern about him changing his decision again (he decommitted from Florida State before choosing West Virginia), the way in which he discusses the future at WVU, accompanied by his teammates, is a strong indicator that he has settled on his final choice.
Cole's commitment gives WVU seven defensive secondary players in the class, and it might be as strong of a group as has ever joined the Mountaineers. Of course, they still have to perform on the field, and have a long way to go before equalling the achievements of the Vann Washington/Charles Emmanuel/Mike Logan trio, which was the anchor of one of the best West Virginia defenses in history in 1996. Still, at this point, Cole simply adds to a group that is one of the highest rated in recent memory.