With the NFL Draft less than a month away, there has been a lot of talk regarding WVU’s two-headed monster at Safety over the last four years.
Karl Joseph and KJ Dillon will more than likely hear their names called in the three-day event, with Joseph possibly being a late first-round pick, and Dillon going as high as the late 2nd round, or early 3rd.
With both players being highly touted, and having great careers at WVU, one must ask if this is the best tandem of Safeties to ever wear the Blue and Gold at the same time.
Safety has historically been one of the Mountaineers strong points over the last 20-30 years, with many players having great careers from the defensive backfield. This list consists of Mountaineer greats, dating back to 1985.
7. Robert Sands and Keith Tandy (2008-2010)
Career Stats combined: 339 Tackles, 19 Interceptions and 3 Forced Fumbles
While this tandem actually tied for the most interceptions on our list, they fall in at number 7. Tandy has enjoyed a nice career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Sands now plays in the CFL after being drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft.
Sands and Tandy were great players for the Mountaineers, and played key defensive roles for Bill Stewart’s defense. Sands declared for the NFL draft after his Junior season, therefore hindering his possible Senior season’s stats and this duo’s place on this list.
Tandy finished his career with 13 interceptions, becoming one of the all-time leaders in interceptions at WVU.
6. Eric Wicks and Ryan Mundy (2007)
Combined Stats: 264 Tackles, 11 Interceptions, 3 Forced Fumbles and 3 Defensive Touchdowns
If Ryan Mundy would have spent his entire career at WVU, this tandem would be higher on the list. Mundy, who transferred from Michigan during his senior season, helped boost the defense for one of the best Mountaineer teams in history.
Mundy was a playmaker for the WVU defense, getting three interceptions during the 2007 season which led to an 11-2 finish and the great Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma.
Wicks was one of the most underrated players for WVU during their great run in the 2000’s. Wicks finished his career with 202 tackles, eight interceptions and three defensive touchdowns during his career. Wicks was the vocal leader for that WVU defense during the 2007 season, and had one of the better careers for safeties in WVU history.
5. Mike Lorello and Jahmile Addae (2003-2005)
Career Stats: 375 Tackles, 14 INT’s, 9 FF’s and 3 TD’s
This hard-hitting duo were the leaders of the WVU secondary for three crucial years in WVU football history. The two were safeties during the 2000’s when WVU transitioned from being a mediocre team, to becoming an elite team.
The team had great success during Lorello and Addae’s senior season, earning WVU’s first 11-win season since 1993. The Mountaineers followed that with two more 11-win seasons, setting the stage for six consecutive 9-win seasons.
The duo wasn’t the flashiest, but these two players got results, specializing in forcing turnovers. Between the two, they created 23 career turnovers with nine of those coming off of forced fumbles.
4. Darrell Whitmore and Bo Orlando (1988)
Career Stats: 341 Tackles, 19 INT’s and 4 FF’s
A lot like the last two, these two players had great team success during their one season together at WVU.
In 1988, Bo Orlando was a senior safety for the Mountaineers who teamed up with Freshman Darrell Whitmore to help lead WVU to the National championship game and an undefeated regular season.
Orlando went on to have a five-year career in the NFL, while Whitmore played in the MLB.
During their season together, they combined for seven interceptions. Head coach Don Nehlen credited the defense for being the root to success that season, despite Quarterback Major Harris having such a high-profile season.
These two were part of what many consider to be the best secondary in WVU history, and it is a shame they only got one season together.
3. Tom Pridemore (1975-1977)
Career Stats: 239 Tackles, 15 INT’s and 2 Defensive TD’s
While he had an interchanging tandem during his WVU career, its hard to not give Pridemore a mention when talking about great Safety tandems in Mountaineer history.
Many people argue Pridemore is the greatest safety in WVU history, and it is hard to argue. With 239 tackles and 15 interceptions, Pridemore could do it all defensively.
He had a very successful pro career in the NFL, totaling 21 interceptions in eight seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
Pridemore had three returns of at least 80 yards during his three seasons at WVU, and played the game with a passion that is sometimes rare to find.
The only knack on Pridemore is the overall success of his teams, but in his defense, his last two seasons in Morgantown were spent under a new head coach after the departure of Bobby Bowden.
2. Mike Logan and Charles Emanuel (1993-1996)
Career Stats: 410 Tackles, 13 INT’s, 4 FF’s and 2 TD’s
This duo roamed the secondary in Morgantown for four years in the nineties, with Eamnuel having one of the most prolific careers of all WVU safeties.
Collecting 270 tackles, Emanuel’s best season came during his sophomore campaign when he had 107 tackles.
Logan played sparingly throughout his first three seasons, but broke out during his senior season. Logan had five interceptions that season, plus 11 PBU’s (Pass Break Up).
With Logan playing the ball-hawk role, and Emmanuel being one of the best tackling safeties WVU has ever had, the two complimented each other very well and led a defense that was the 3rd best scoring defense in College Football, only allowing 13 ppg.
This tandem had two great years together as starters, but both played frequently during their four seasons for the Mountaineers.
1. Karl Joseph and KJ Dillion
Career Stats: 449 Tackles, 15 INT’S, 10 FF’s and 3 TD’s
People like to say that numbers don’t lie and in this case, they don’t. Joseph and Dillon led all safety tandems from this list in tackles, forced turnovers and tied for defensive touchdowns.
These two players were leaders of the WVU defense as Freshman, and were given the responsibility of turning around a defense that was one of the worst in College Football during their first two seasons.
During their Freshman and Sophomore seasons, the WVU defense ranked 117th and 101st in scoring defense. In their final season, they became a top 50 defense while playing in the highest scoring conference in College Football.
But, anyone that knew football understood the talent these two players had during those seasons and now that is being proven by their rising draft stocks. Joseph is the 3rd safety according to NFL.com, and Dillon is not far behind him at 6.
If it weren’t for injuries, these two would have played in every game during their four year careers. Speaking of injuries, the games missed due to them prevented them from having even more prolific numbers.
Dillon missed four games during his sophomore season, and as most of us know, Joseph missed the final nine games of his senior season.
When you really think of that, and compare their numbers to those of the other safeties on this list, it is hard to argue that any other two players played the position better in Mountaineer history.
From the bone-crushing hits Joseph laid on opponents, to the leadership and play-making Dillon showed during each game, these two will surely be missed but will go onto have great NFL careers.