We are officially less than three weeks from the start of the 2020 season and with a new season comes new faces. If you have been following along to our "Freshmen Faces" series, you will have received a small introduction to each scholarship freshman on the roster. Today, we offer evaluations of each freshmen on the defensive side of the ball. So, let's get to it!
DL Akheem Mesidor
Mesidor (6'2", 268 lbs) has through the roof kind of potential. I'm usually very cautious about giving a true freshman high expectations, but not with Mesidor. He is going to be an absolute stud on the Mountaineer defense. He gets off the ball extremely well, he's sneaky quick, slippery, and constantly fights his way into the backfield. He can play both inside and out, but I think you'll see him more on the edge because of his pass rushing ability. He is one of the very few over the years that I am confident will be a star at some point in his collegiate career. This dude can play.
DL Sean Martin
The narrative about West Virginia high school football is that it doesn't produce many high-level athletes. Over the past few years guys like Dante Stills, Darius Stills, Isaiah Johnson, Dorian Etheridge, Doug Nester, and several others prove that narrative to be false. Sean Martin (6'6", 260 lbs) is just another example. He has a high motor and has a great combination of strength and speed that will make him a problem for Big 12 offensive tackles over the next four or so years. Martin has all the tools to be a top pass rusher in the league and will have the opportunity to watch and learn from Dante Stills.
LB Taurus Simmons
Simmons was a speedy/lanky defensive end in high school that needed to add on some weight to withstand the play at the collegiate level. Since signing with West Virginia in December, he has packed on a much needed 22 pounds. He weighed in at 210 lbs when he signed and according to the official team site, now checks in at 232 lbs. Speed is the name of his game as I previously mentioned, but what's most impressive is his closing speed and being able to go from one end of the field to the other to make a stop. His main priority in high school was to get after the quarterback, so there's not a whole lot of film out there on his coverage skills. With him playing the BANDIT, he won't have to drop into coverage all that often, but I'm sure the coaching staff is working with him diligently on sharpening that area of his game.
LB Lanell Carr
Carr has a knack for getting into the backfield and racking up sacks and tackles for loss. He's got pretty good speed to go along with his size and makes the life of a left/right tackle very difficult. He can drop back in coverage, but his best trait by far is being a pass rusher and after reviewing film of those in the previous signing class, I think it's safe to say he is the best pass rusher to come from that group.
LB Eddie Watkins
Watkins is a perfect fit to play the BANDIT position in Morgantown. He has a quick first step off of the ball, great burst off the edge, and can get skinny in tight gaps. He's a vicious hitter and can really contain the edge in the run game. He played much of his high school career with a hand in the dirt, so being a standup edge rusher may take a little time to get acclimated to, but it should be a seamless transition. The goal is still the same - get after the quarterback. He recorded 66 tackles and ten sacks in his senior year at Hillcrest en route to earning 2019 4A Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State First Team honors.
CB Daryl Porter Jr.
Porter Jr. is a bit undersized, but you wouldn’t know it by watching how he plays. Isn’t afraid to go up for 50/50 balls and will get physical. His biggest asset is his speed, probably has the most speed of the secondary signees in this class. Initially, I wasn't projecting much playing time for him in 2020, but with the fall camp he has had so far, it seems like Neal Brown will be throwing him in the rotation.
CB David Vincent-Okoli
A two-way star in high school, Vincent-Okoli brings a high level of athleticism to the Mountaineer program. For much of his recruitment, it was unknown which position he would play at West Virginia, although it always seemed to be on the defensive side. He has great hands, but more importantly, top-end speed. He glides across the field and makes getting to the ball look effortless. That quickness was also shown during his days of running track. At the 2019 Maryland 3A track & field championships, he won the 100 meters (10.75 in prelims), 200 meters (21.78 in prelims) and 4x100 relay (42.14).
Vincent-Okoli is dynamic with the ball in his hands, so there could be a future for him in the return game at some point.
CB Jaïro Faverus
Faverus is a raw talent with an extremely high ceiling. He dominated his competition in high school, but will be a big challenge when he faces better competition everyday in practice. He's a pure tackler and plays well in man coverage, but could be someone that the coaching staff looks to move to safety at some point.
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