Coverage Strength

Defensive backs that have the strength to jam receivers at the line, yet run with them downfield, are in high demand, and West Virginia looks to have found just that in its latest football verbal commitment.

Cornerback Darius Packer, who stands six feet, one inch and tips the scales at 205 pounds, has the strength and speed to perform all of those tasks, according to his defensive coordinator at Fort Scott Community College.

"I would say his biggest asset is his strength," Fort Scott assistant coach Russ Pickett told "He is a strong kid, and he's the bigger corner that everyone is looking for now. He still runs in the 4.4 and 4.5 range, so that doesn't affect his speed any. He is an aggressive kid."

West Virginia's 3-3-5 defense functions best (as does just about any set) when cornerbacks are capable of playing tight man-to-man coverage off the line, and that's an area in which Packer excels.

"He's very good in press coverage," Pickett reiterated. ""He's not afraid to stick his head in there. But he can still cover. We play him at both the boundary and the field corner. We don't flip our cornerbacks, and he has the ability to play both."

Typically, bigger cornerbacks that can help defend against the run play on the boundary, or short side of the field, while corners with better coverage skills play the field, or wide side, where the have to defend a larger area in pass coverage. Having a player with the ability to do both is a bonus, as he can play either side and bring abilities that normally aren't seen at one position into play. If Packer can do that at West Virginia, he will certainly have a leg up on gaining playing time.

Despite having been out of high school for two-plus years, Packer is just now getting his first chance at playing on the college level. According to Pickett, he attended Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College and Bishop State (Ala.) Community College, but a family illness interrupted his career before it got started at the former, and thus he is just now beginning his first year on the field since high school. He will need two semesters at Fort Scott to earn his degree, so the plan is for him to graduate in May before coming to West Virginia. He is expected to have two years' eligibility remaining.

"I think he is on track," Pickett said. "He has been doing well in his classes, and he has his head on straight. I think he will be fine."

Packer, who was originally targeted by West Virginia out of Vigor High School in Alabama, isn't confined to the defensive side of the ball at Fort Scott. His athletic abilities are so good that FSCC uses him on special teams and even on offense at times.

"He is a kickoff return man for us, and he is also on the kickoff [coverage] team," Pickett said. "He is such a gifted athlete that we are using him at running back a little bit. That's where he made his name in high school, from what I understand."

At West Virginia, Packer could obviously play any of the five defensive back positions, but will almost certainly get his first chance at cornerback.

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