Before we go any farther, let's get one thing straight: Sidney Glover is not Eric Wicks. At least, not yet. And to his credit, Glover will be the first person to admit as much when comparisons between himself and West Virginia's departed playmaker are brought up.
"I don't want to put the pressure on myself to be Eric Wicks," Glover said this week.
Wicks, a 6-1 205-pound safety from Pittsburgh, left the West Virginia program having collected nearly 200 career tackles, including 12 sacks. He also left his mark as a game-changer, playmaker or whatever you want to call it, point being that when the Mountaineer defense needed a big play, No. 41 had a knack for delivering. With the Mountaineers struggling to score offensively in his first career start against Virginia Tech in 2004, Wicks picked off a Bryan Randall pass and took it to the house. The following fall during the 2005 season-opener against Syracuse, Wicks scored WVU's only touchdown of the afternoon, again with a pick six. His third career defensive touchdown came in a win over Louisville last season.
In addition to his ability to score defensive touchdowns, Wicks was also one of the team's best blitzers. It almost seemed as though he could get into the backfield whenever he wanted. This latter trait is the one which WVU's defensive coaches are searching for from the safety position, and one which they feel Glover can provide.
"I can see the comparison. I can be physical. I can make plays," he said.
Making plays is not the problem for Glover. Making them on a consistent basis, however, is still something that the second-year spur is trying to improve. Again, Glover displays a healthy sense of self when discussing the need to be more consistent in executing his assignments.
"I've been working hard," he said. "I'm trying to make myself a better player, but sometimes I will have those days when I relapse and I'll go home thinking that maybe I could have worked a little bit harder that day."
At some point between now and the time West Virginia kicks off on August 30 against Villanova, Glover and the coaching staff are hoping that the proverbial lights comes on. If and when it does, Glover's presence both in the WVU secondary and the backfield of opposing offenses could shore up a couple of potential weaknesses for these Mountaineers.
In addition to learning from safeties coach Steve Dunlap, Glover is also drawing on the experience of some unlikely sources: those also competing with him for a starting job in the secondary.
"Even though we're competing, we're all working together to help each other," Glover explained. "Coach is rotating us in (with first-team repetitions), so whoever you're in with, you have to get on the same page with and work together. Even though there is still a competition, we're a unit. We're the safeties."
In all likelihood, the light will not go on overnight. Having played extensively on special teams last season as a true freshman, Glover is at least familiar with the speed of the college game. However just as is the case with any young player looking to fill a bigger role as his career progresses, there will be an in-game learning curve that simply cannot be replicated in practice.
With that in mind, Glover will be approaching every rep he gets with the first team against Villanova with the objective of improving and learning from each and every play.
"Really, right now I'm just working hard and seeing how much I can play," he said. "I just want to work hard so that we can get a win. How much I play is up to the coaches and whatever they want to do.
"I'm just looking to make my first start, get out there and play and get my feet wet," he continued. "I need to gain some experience from however much I play."
Who knows? Maybe by the time his Mountaineer career is over, people will be asking how Sidney Glover will ever be replaced, just as they are now with Wicks no longer wearing a Mountaineer uniform.
"To do what Wicks did by the time I'm done would be great, but I don't want to pressure myself to do that," he said. "If I happen to do those things by the time I'm done, then that would be great."