MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–The loss of Dravon Askew-Henry left a huge void on defense for the West Virginia University football team but it opened a new opportunity for senior Jeremy Tyler.
The 5-foot-11, 207-pound safety has always been good enough to start but someone has always been a little more superior. Now Tyler gets his chance to shine for the Mountaineers at the free safety position.
“Jeremy has always been a guy that we have count on,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “He’s been a player for three years and understands our system, knows what we expect. He’s a great leader and a guy we were counting on early on coming into this camp. He’s right where I think he should be taking that role at free safety and running with it so we’re very excited with him.”
The Lithonia, Georgia native has the talent to get the job done but he lacks the starting experience Askew-Henry has. But don’t think for a minute that he won’t excel at the task at hand.
“I mean Dravon obviously has more experience back at free (safety),” redshirt senior safety Jarrod Harper said. “He’s played it for two seasons. JT is doing well. He is making plays; in the scrimmage he made plays and had an interception for a touchdown. He is doing what he has to do, he is learning, he is watching film, and he is studying.”
Tyler came to WVU out of Martin Luther King High where he was a two-year starter. As a senior he was a Class 5-A all-state and all-region selection and played in the Georgia All-Star game, notching three tackles and one interception.
As a Mountaineer, Tyler continued to succeed. He finished the 2015 season with 20 tackles, including 19 solo stops, one interception, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
“Jeremy has the tools to do whatever we want him to do,” safeties coach Matt Caponi said. “He’s a good boundary safety, and he showed a couple years ago and the last two scrimmages, that he’s a pretty darn good free safety too.”
“It’s the versatility of how well he moves, how well he understands the scheme and understands the game, plus his ability to do things in zone coverage and in man coverage.”
Tyler is a physical and versatile presence on the field for the Mountaineers.
“JT, he is playing in the spot so he knows how to come up and be physical on the line and stuff like that,” Harper said. “I think JT, he brings that extra, I don’t want to say he is more physical than Dre. He’s not but He brings that extra boost to his game. He does good back there. He’s physical. He’s played the spot before. He’s comfortable with coming up and making tackles in the holes.”
So after three years of being the odd man out, Tyler is finally going to get his chance this fall.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst